The first Italian Derby or the Derby d’Italia as it is known in Italy came to a conclusion at the Allianz Stadium in Turin on Saturday night. The match which ended in a stalemate, had plenty of talking points. Here are 5 such talking points from the first inter-city derby of the season:
1. Inter are giving emphasis to Italian players:
Italian football has a rich history and the clubs too are known for certain traits. A few British men founded the AC Milan club in 1899. However, they did not allow the foreigners to play for them and as a mark of protest from the huge Argentine immigrant population, Inter Milan were formed in 1908 with the motto of “We are brothers of the world”. Much like what their name suggests, Inter have always given more emphasis to foreign players than home-grown players, unlike their crosstown and the national rivals AC Milan and Juventus. Saturday night’s match was the first time in 15 years when Inter fielded more Italian players in their starting XI than Juventus.
While Inter had Danilo D’Ambrosio, Davide Santon, and Antonio Candreva in their starting XI, Juventus only had Giorgio Chiellini and Mattia De Sciglio starting. Inter also had the duo of Roberto Gagliardini and Eder come on as substitutes. This goes on to show that Luciano Spalletti and Inter are looking forward to giving Italian players more first-team football, probably as an after-shock of Italy’s bizarre exit in the World Cup qualifiers.
2. Handanovic is probably the only shot-stopper in the class of David De Gea:
It is almost a foregone conclusion these days that in order to score a goal against Manchester United, it either has to be a horrendous defensive error or an exceptional one, for David De Gea stands like a wall in their goal.
For Luciano Spalletti’s Inter, Slovenian Samir Handanovic is doing a similar job every passing day. If his save against Cagliari was spectacular, his save against Juventus was simply out of the world. Even though the whistle was blown later to adjudge Khedira as off-side, it was breathtaking nonetheless. He also produced a handful of top quality saves in the match that earned another clean sheet for him and his Inter back line. It is needless to say, he is surely one of the 5 best shot-stoppers in the world right now and Inter are very lucky to have him between the sticks.
3. Mario Mandzukic will be Allegri’s best bet in the long tiring schedule:
Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic has been one of the best performers for Juventus since joining from Atlético Madrid in 2015. He had scored a picturesque equalizer against Real Madrid in last season’s UEFA Champions League final. Returning from injury, Mario was directly drafted into the squad in place of Brazilian Douglas Costa by Massimiliano Allegri. The Croat did not disappoint his coach’s confidence with an eye-catching performance against the table toppers. During his 90 minutes on the pitch at the Allianz, he had 5 shots inside the box, 1 from outside, hit the woodwork once, forced a few inhumanly saves from Handanovic and completed 25 successful passes. He also won 14 duels, 4 aerial duels, 4 successful tackles, 2 clearances as well drawing 4 fouls. His performance earned him a man of the match award in the derby.
4. The Inter back-line is truly worthy of being called “the best” in the league:
The Serie A this season has been the most exciting in recent times as the Top 3 sides are 2 points within each other, with the 4th and 5th placed teams 5 and 8 points of the top with a match each in hand. The Serie A teams this season have been solid at the back. Inter have conceded the least number of goals with 10 in 15 games in the league; the same as SSC Napoli and AS Roma. On Saturday, the Milanese club, led by probably the defensive signing of the season in the whole of Europe Slovakian Milan Škriniar, became the first team in the league to stop the free-scoring Juventus from scoring. Juventus had previously scored 41 goals in 14 games, never once failing to score in a Serie A game before this season. But despite having 19 shots, 8 of which were on target, the Old Lady of Turin failed to find the back of the net despite having the likes Of Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado and Gonzalo Higuain in the attack.
5. Luciano Spalletti trumped Allegri with his own Catenaccio:
At the end of the day, Juventus lost 2 points in the draw. Inter coach Spalletti was clearly playing for the draw in the tough away fixture in a stadium, where Juventus is known to lose rarely. Spalletti’s defence aided his defensive tactics as the defending champions failed to score for the first time this season. Allegri was clearly outwitted by Spalletti’s tactics and the end result is that Inter are still top of the table, 2 clear of their title rivals. This result solidified Inter’s claims for the Scudetto to be legitimate, as they showed they are not the side to bow down too easily.