Serie A Week 6 – 3/10/10 (19.45 UK)
Inter – Juventus
The Derby d’Italia has always been a fiery affair, none more so than since the Calciopoli scandal that continues to rage on.
Juventus were demoted to Serie B after the 2006 trial and saw two Scudetti revoked, including the 2005-06 edition that was instead handed to Inter. Now the Bianconeri have made an official appeal to have that it removed from the San Siro trophy cabinet following the discovery of new wiretap evidence. “Rather than ask for the 2006 title to be revoked, surely Juventus ought to be handing back more Scudetti,” blasted general manager Ernesto Paolillo.
The tension will also be sky high because this is a crucial game for both sides in Serie A. Inter are top of the table, level with Lazio, after their surprise 1-0 defeat at Roma and have a series of injury problems to deal with. Juve are still mid-table, as Sunday’s 4-2 result against Cagliari was only their second win of the season.
Entertainment looks likely, as the Bianconeri can ‘boast’ the worst defensive record in the Division, having conceded nine goals in five games. That’s not counting the Europa League group phase, which would take that tally to 13 goals in seven. Gigi Del Neri’s men are also easily the most prolific, but have to find a balance, especially against a side as clinical as Inter.
Rafa Benitez has a quandary on his hands for this game and injuries are at the heart of it. Samuel Eto’o and Cristian Chivu have been complaining all season at being played out of position, but the potential absence of Diego Milito, Lucio, Walter Samuel and Marco Materazzi could ‘force’ them into playing their preferred roles.
Eto’o showed exactly why he wants to work as a centre-forward, netting a hat-trick in the 4-0 Champions League demolition of Werder Bremen on Wednesday evening. Chivu can take the centre-back position as really the only remaining option, giving Davide Santon the chance to shine on the left.
The injury situation is still up in the air. Thiago Motta is out of action, but Javier Zanetti, Samuel, Lucio and Milito could still recover in time. Goran Pandev returns from his knee problem and Julio Cesar is ready after his precautionary substitution against Bremen. If Milito doesn’t make it, then Coutinho can move into Eto’o’s old wide role.
Juventus also have problems on the treatment table. Amauri is still a doubt, with Gigi Buffon and Armand Traoré long-term absentees. Alessandro Del Piero is always up for this big game, but could be benched after playing in Thursday’s 1-1 Europa League draw with Manchester City. Vincenzo Iaquinta scored in that game and is the only other alternative to partner Fabio Quagliarella.
Alberto Aquilani got his debut last week, but is again likely to be overlooked in favour of Felipe Melo and Claudio Marchisio. Paolo De Ceglie is back from injury, but all eyes are on Milos Krasic after his sensational hat-trick against Cagliari.
Keep an eye on: Samuel Eto’o (Inter) – He really is on fire at the moment and has a point to prove in the centre-forward role. The Cameroon hitman has scored 11 goals in official games so far this season – five in Serie A, four in the Champions League and two in the Italian Super Cup. Against a not very quick Juve defence, he could run riot.
Last five in Serie A: Inter (D W W W L) Juventus (L D W L W)
Last season: Inter 2-0 Juventus
Top tip: Not only is Eto’o in great shape, but he scored twice in three meetings with Juventus last term between Serie A and the Coppa Italia.
Stat fact: This fixture has not ended in a Serie A draw since the 2-2 on November 28 2004, followed by one away win and two consecutive home victories. The last goalless stalemate was in February 1999.
Inter (probable): Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Cordoba, Chivu; Stankovic, Cambiasso; Pandev, Sneijder, Coutinho; Eto’o
Juventus (probable): Storari; Motta, Bonucci, Chiellini, De Ceglie; Krasic, Felipe Melo, Marchisio, Pepe; Iaquinta, Quagliarella