There was an extremely diverse range of emotions felt by the fans in the stands of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Sunday evening of Matchday 23, as Inter and Juventus emphatically battled it out for top spot in Serie A in a tense Derby d’Italia.
The approach Simone Inzaghi‘s side took into the game gave the hosts a lot of enthusiasm and confidence, but that soon seemed to turn into doubt and maybe even a little fear was creeping in, as the Nersazzurri allowed Juventus to pose a threat on occasion only for the Bianconeri to waste the chances they carved out.
In the end, though, as much as the hosts should probably reflect on their struggles to make the most of the possession they had, their overall supremacy cannot be questioned Inter proved to be the only team on the pitch looking fully convinced by what they had at their disposal.
Inter in control of the Scudetto race, but…
This may not come as a total surprise, given Inter‘s impressive record against the strongest Serie A sides, but the magnitude of this test posed the Nerazzurri with a challenge that reminded many of the 2022 Milan derby. Then, Inzaghi‘s side took the lead before suddenly crumbling in the final 20 minutes and eventually paving the way for AC Milan to win the Scudetto.
This time against Juventus, even when the game was at its most balanced, Inter never looked to feel weak in their knees, even facing the prospect of opening a four-point gap at the top of Serie A with a game in hand, which charges them with further responsibility.
Given how close the two sides sat in the Serie A table coming into the weekend, and not forgetting the season’s previous Derby d’Italia at the Allianz Stadium, the Matchday 23 meeting was always a hard one to call. Now, though, Inter are clear favourites for the title and will need to confirm that status against Atalanta (their game in hand over Juventus) and AS Roma in the coming weeks.
This month of February will prove to be decisive, one way or another, in testing Inter‘s resolve. Should they make it through with the lead, they should be able to get comfortably over the line.
Did Juventus pay for their lack of experience in Derby d’Italia loss to Inter?
As for Juventus, it was probably too much to expect a bolder display from a team who have been in reconstruction since the summer.
Once again, though, they made the gap between themselves and Inter look tighter than it really is, or should be. And despite their cautious and opportunistic approach, there were even moments in which they could’ve changed the course of the game by showing a bit more craftiness or ruthlessness in front of goal. As well, a considerable number of their players have little experience in games of such magnitude.
In this regard, the prospect of watching Inter take control of the title race could relieve them of the pressure that may have had nerves growing of late.
Now, Juventus can focus first on fending off AC Milan‘s assault on second place, and then thinking about staying in the race with Inter and praying for a Nerazzurri implosion.