After a disastrous season which has seen Inter fail to qualify to any European competition, it seems that the changes made during the summer have helped them find their way again, which will be tested in the most difficult of manners against champions Juventus, also off to a smooth start.
The arrival of Walter Mazzarri has turned Inter into a 3-5-2 kind of team, with Nagatomo and Jonathan on the wings, while Palacio and Ricardo Alvarez are in charge of creating havoc in the middle. However, his most important unit, and especially against Juventus, will be the midfield with Guarin, Cambiasso and the surprising youngster, Mateo Kovacic.
Inter won their first two matches against Genoa and Catania (not the strongest of rivals) without conceding a goal, yet scoring five. Is this a return to normalcy for the side? Gianluigi Buffon has mentioned Juventus seeing Inter, their rivals in the Derby d’Italia, as legitimate contenders for the title, but that may be only respect talking. Last season Inter had a wonderful start to the season, which included a 3-1 win over Juventus in Torino, but winning only one match in the final couple of months last season doomed Inter’s chances of having a happy ending.
For Juventus, it’s been business as usual: Winning the Italian Super Cup, while getting a big win in Sampdoria, a place they traditionally struggle at, and beating Lazio quite easily one more time. The absence of Claudio Marchisio hasn’t slowed this team one bit, as they find more and more ways to do well with Paul Pogba, who will be very hard to push from the lineup once Marchisio is completely healthy again.
The addition of Carlos Tevez up front brings Juve another dimension they lacked last season, although it seems Conte isn’t really convinced about the identity of his partner, with Fernando Llorente confused about not getting too many minutes early on, instead having to watch Mirko Vucinic enjoy the credit.
Last season Inter’s key tactic in the win over Juventus was denying Pirlo the ball. This time, with Vidal and Pogba being a much more integral part of Juve’s plans and ball movement, it won’t be that simply.
Prediction – Mazzarri usually makes life difficult for Juventus, but it’s been rare to see Napoli actually beat the two-time champions, not to mention that the quality of his team right now is inferior to the one he had in the South of Italy. With the Champions League on their minds, Juventus might not use their strongest of lineups, opening a window for a draw that will please both sides.