Juventus v Inter Milan, Serie A, December 5, 2009
Arguably the match of the weekend occurs on Saturday night in Serie A, as the Derby d’Italia is contested between powerhouses Juventus and Inter Milan.
All the pre-match pressure has settled on Juventus, with the Bianconeri having fallen eight points behind the reigning champions after last Sundayâ€™s 2-nil defeat by Cagliari, which in turn followed another 2-nil loss at Bordeaux in the Champions League in the Old Lady’s previous outing. With successive defeats to overcome, the general feeling is that Juve have virtually no room left for further mishaps.
Such is the tension in Turin, speculation is rife that coach Ciro Ferrara’s reign in charge could soon be forced to a dramatic halt, especially if they lose to their old enemy.
Whispers suggest that Juve will be without Felipe Melo due to bacterial laryngitis, while doubts also remain over Fabio Grosso’s availability for the game after the Italian missed the defeat to Cagliari with a hamstring problem.
On the plus side, Juventus should welcome back Giorgio Chiellini (7/1 to score) to their side, albeit with a face-mask, after the defender had his nose broken in the loss to Cagliari. Chiellini will slot in next to Fabio Cannavaro (7/1 to score) at the heart of the Juve defence, with the hosts’ knowing that they need to sure-up when defending set-pieces, which has been one of the sides’ Achilles heels this season.
Up front Amauri (6/1 to score first) is a physical threat even though he doesnâ€™t score as often as he should whilst Alessandro Del Piero (16/5 to score & Juve win) will be hoping to get on the scoresheet for the first time this season after a lengthy injury lay-off. Happily the match could also see the return of top scorer David Trezeguet after recovering from a recent a calf injury. (Juve are 17/10 to keep a clean sheet.)
Jose Mourinhoâ€™s Inter Milan continue to dominate Italian football and the â€œSpecial Oneâ€ will be well aware that this is the perfect opportunity to put Juventus out of contention. The Nerazzuri have lost just once in the league all season and look by far the most likely team to win the Scudetto.
Both Diego Milito and Samuel Etoâ€™o (5/2 for either Milito or Eto’o to score first) have banged in goals in the early months of the campaign and Mario Balotelli (7/2 to score & Inter win) is unlikely to have forgotten that he scored away at Juventus last season. Inter will be without marauding right back Maicon for this one as he is suspended and Wesley Sneijder is a major doubt to continue an incredible run since joining in the summer. The Dutchman has won every match bar one in Serie A so far.
Hanging over both teams are the midweek Champions League matches coming up with Juventus and Inter Milan needing positive results to progress. Historically this match is usually a tight affair â€“ last season three goals were scored in 180 minutes of football and this is likely to be the case again.
Inter in recent years have made a habit of doing just enough against their closest rivals and although they may still be waiting to make an impact in Europe, these matches are their bread and butter.
101gg predicts: Juventus 1 â€“ Inter Milan 2 (8/1)
Full match odds here.