Derby d’Italia is almost upon us. This Sunday, Juventus will host Inter Milan at the Allianz Stadium. It is a fixture that usually brings a lot of excitement and drama. There is a lot at stake. Juventus is looking to distance itself from Atalanta to ensure the Champions League qualifying 4th position. Inter, on the other hand, is looking to stay within 3 points from the league leader AC Milan side. In this article, you can read about three things to expect from Juventus vs Inter.Embed from Getty Images
1. Juventus Will Play not to Lose
Here is the first of three things to expect from Juventus vs Inter: I expect Max Allegri to prioritize a point in this game. Juventus fans will not be excited to hear this but it does not mean Juve will not try to win. Rather, the priority will be not to lose.
While many pundits have been vocal about Juve’s chances of winning the league, the reality is that Juventus is looking to ensure a Champions League qualification for next year. The league leaders AC Milan are 7 points clear and with just 8 games to go, it is likely too much for Juventus at this point. On the other hand, Atalanta can be just 5 points behind if they win their extra game in hand. If Juve loses to Inter and Atalanta gets another result; that is just a 2 point gap. Given how pragmatic Mr. Allegri is; he will be prioritizing staying ahead of Atalanta more than chasing a highly improbable title.
This would not be the first time Juventus has employed the “let’s not lose” approach this season. In late January, Juve visited AC Milan and finished the game with 0 shots on target. While this stat makes it seem like Juventus barely escaped with a 0:0 scoreline; that would be a wrong assessment of the game. Juventus kept Milan at bay and did not allow them to create much either. In fact, Milan walked away with 0.67xG (expected goals). Eye test would tell you the same: Milan did not create anything dangerous and Max got his “point gained” in an important away game.
This is just a single example of how Max has approached big games this season. Juventus has played top five teams seven times this season. Juve lost two and drew five. However, their defeat at home vs Atalanta back in November was the last time they lost a league game. They’ve since tied Napoli, Milan, and Atalanta; and will be looking to keep up the unbeaten run vs Inter.
2. Juventus Will Need to Take its Chances
The second of the three things to expect from Juventus vs Inter is that Juventus will regret once again if they are wasteful with their chances. The last high-profile game Juve played was vs Villareal a few weeks ago. They lost 3:0 at home. However, Juventus should have been up 2:0 at halftime. The team missed great opportunities to score and conceded the first shot on goal that Villarreal managed in the 78th minute (which also happened to be a penalty).
If Juventus has any chance of winning this game (and ultimately challenging AC Milan to the title), it must be clinical in front of the goal. Much like Villareal, Inter will not be forgiving. Vlahovic and Dybala/Morata must take their chances. That is the only way Juventus can beat Inter this weekend.
Juventus will not dominate the game and they will not have five clear-cut opportunities to score. It is going to be a low-scoring game and if Juventus wants to take some points they will need to take their opportunities.
3. Dybala To Go Out With a Bang
According to Sky Sport Italia, Paulo Dybala should start against Inter on Sunday night, in his last derby d’Italia with Juventus. https://t.co/uJv7ovsote #Juve #JuventusInter #JuveInter #FCIM #Inter #SerieA #Calcio #Dybala— footballitalia (@footballitalia) April 1, 2022
The last of the three things to expect from Juventus vs Inter is Dybala all fired up. Reports from Italy predict that Dybala will start, what could be his last Derby D’Italia. In fact, this is the first game for Juventus after the news broke that Juventus will not renew Dybala’s contract and he will be free to leave this summer.
Dybala has nothing left to prove for Juventus. He spent 7 wonderful years in Turin. With 113 goals, he ranks #11 on Juve’s all-time scorer’s list. And just two shy of legendary Roberto Baggio to make his way into the top 10. Now, he’s got 8 games left (potentially 10 with two games left to play in Copa Italia), and he will be looking to leave on a positive note.
Currently, Juventus does not have a more technically gifted player than Dybala. If he does start vs Inter, he will be tasked to carry the creative load up top and make something happen with Vlahovic.
When Vlahovic arrived, I wrote that Dybala would have a fantastic finish to the season. You can read the article here. Unfortunately, injuries have deprived us of his brilliance. However, my earlier analysis stands. When healthy, Dybala and Vlahovic have linked up very well. Dybala assisted Vlahovic on his first goal, and Vlahovic assisted Dybala on his last one. They fit with each other really well. But, this is Dybala’s swan song and I expect him to bring his magic one last time vs Inter.
It is going to be another pragmatic game from Max. While I do not expect Inter to create too many dangerous opportunities, I expect the same for Juventus. There may be one or two decisive moments and Juventus will need to make the most of it.