As the season’s first iteration of the Derby D’Italia approaches, it behooves us to take a brief look into the history of the storied fixture involving two of Italy’s (and indeed, Europe’s) greatest sides.
Famed Italian journalist Gianni Brera conceived the moniker Derby D’Italia in 1967 for Italy’s two most successful sides at the time. Internazionale Milano and Juventus Football Club had never been relegated from Serie A and held the most domestic titles in Italy between them. Despite not being from the same city, the match grew in such scope that it became a huge spectacle in world football.
The success of both clubs over the years only increased the rivalry between them, with Juventus and Inter ranked first and second in wins and goals in Serie A history. Domestically, Juventus has (officially) won 27 Serie A titles, nine Coppa Italia titles as well as four Supercoppa Italiana titles. Inter Milan has won the Serie A 17 times, the Coppa Italia five times and the Supercoppa Italiana four times, respectively.
Juventus holds a strong edge over Inter in the Derby, with 92 wins out of 210 matches played to Inter’s 66. The fixture has been drawn 52 times with Juventus holding a superior goal differential of +38.
The relationship between the sides has always been strained at best. In 1961, due to a pitch invasion, the league first awarded the derby to Inter only to overturn their ruling and force a replay of the match. In protest, Inter sent out their youth team and were run off the pitch 9-1. Extending even into politics, two deputies came to blows in the Italian Parliament in 1998 over Juventus’ 1-0 title-deciding win in which Inter were denied a clear penalty and Juventus were awarded one just seconds later.
2006’s Calciopoli scandal in which Juventus was relegated, two titles handed to Inter and some of their most prized possessions sold to their bitter rivals helped cement the hatred between the Italian giants.
This year’s matchup will once again prove to be a decisive one for both teams as Inter’s recent domestic dominance continues. Since the Calciopoli scandal, Inter has won every Serie A title, breaking Juventus’ reign at the top. This year has been much of the same with the machine from Milan rolling on virtually unopposed as Juventus struggles with form, injuries and confidence.
At this point Inter is fully seven points clear of AC Milan in second place and eight points clear of Juventus in third. A win on Saturday would put the Nerazzuri in pole position to stroll to yet another Serie A title.
Juventus and Inter stand in dire opposition at this point in the season. While domestically, Inter look to be a well-oiled machine (notwithstanding their 2-0 demolishing at the hands of Barcelona in Champions League), Juventus has struggled mightily of late with their most recent match a crushing 2-0 defeat by Cagliari.
Despite the much-vaunted signing of Brazilians Diego and Felipe Melo, injuries and poor form have kept Juventus from jelling as a cohesive unit, with the worrying issues of defensive frailty and inability to score goals at the forefront of new manager Ciro Ferrara’s mind. Italians Fabio Cannavaro and Fabio Grosso have settled in moderately well with Juventus, but the fragility of the defense has become a serious issue that must be addressed.
On the other hand, Inter Milan’s new forward pair of Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o have formed a great understanding, scoring goals for fun and running rampant through Serie A with 15 strikes between them. Defensively, the signing of Brazilian Lucio has strengthened an already-formidable Inter back four, helping the Milan giants carry a league-leading +22 goal differential compared to Juventus’ +11.
Despite the acknowledged gap in quality between Juventus and Inter Milan, the derby still proves to be an intriguing fixture. Juventus will hope to reverse their recent woes in Serie A and Europe with a much-needed win over their bitter rivals. By the same token, Inter will look to continue their dominance over the Bianconeri, attempting to make the gap between them unassailable as the winter transfer window approaches. Whatever the outcome, it will surely prove to be a mouthwatering fixture.
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