Inter Milan moved level with league leaders AC Milan with a confident 2-0 victory against Juventus in the Derby D’Italia at the San Siro on Sunday evening.
Arturo Vidal struck a priceless opening blow against his former team with a thumping header in the 13th minute before Nicolo Barella doubled the lead shortly after the break to secure a big win in the context of the Serie A title race.
Here are five things we learned from the San Siro:
Vidal strikes against former club
Having not scored a goal in Serie A since May 2015, and not yet got off the mark in the league for Inter, not many will have backed Vidal to score the opening goal of the clash.
The 33-year-old midfielder has often been criticised for his performances in the centre of the park during the opening months of the season. However, his powerful header from Barella’s cross could prove vital in the Serie A title race between his former and current employers.
Midfield magnificence from Inter
Speaking of the central-midfield position at Inter Milan, that was a huge reason behind them notching victory. The midfield three of Vidal, Marcelo Brozovic and Barella controlled the match, suffocating their Juventus counterparts. Every time either of Adrien Rabiot or Aaron Ramsey received the ball, they were very quickly swarmed upon, limiting them to very limited chances.
It wasn’t just an impressive defensive performance though. Barella arguably put in a man-of-the-match showing by dictating the tempo of the play, providing an assist for the first goal, before then sealing the win with a well-taken strike of his own.
Poor finishing halts thumping defeat
Whilst Inter of course were brilliant, there could be one criticism on the night and that’s poor finishing from their regularly reliable forwards. Romelu Lukaku had a few opportunities of his own, whilst Lautaro Martinez also passed up a few golden chances.
Sharing six shots between them throughout the 90 minutes, they should have at least had a goal each, eventually sparing Juventus what could have been a humbling defeat.
Old Lady too reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo
It’s often the case that when a certain team’s key player isn’t quite performing to their maximum, that the whole team doesn’t click. That was certainly the case for Juventus at the San Siro, with Cristiano Ronaldo having a rare off night. Despite him having half of Juventus’ total shots throughout the game, the Portuguese rarely threatened Inter goalkeeper Sami Handanovic.
The visitors also did not have the players to compensate for his below-par showing, with Paulo Dybala restricted to the sidelines and Alvaro Morata also not having quite the desired impact.
If Juventus really want to force themselves back into contention for the league title, they really need to learn to be not so reliant on their star man.
Juventus out of Serie A title race?
Having lifted the last nine Serie A titles in a row before this season, it would previously have been unthinkable that they were seven points off top spot in mid-January and almost half-way through the campaign. That is exactly the situation that Andrea Pirlo’s men find themselves in though following what is their second league defeat of the campaign.
The Old Lady now sit at odds as wide as 3/1 with William Hill to win the league this season, whilst Inter are now installed as favourites at a price of 11/8.
Inter Milan: Handanovic (7); de Vrij (7), Skriniar (7), Bastoni (7); Young (6) (Darmian (6), 72′), Vidal (7) (Gagliardini (N/A), 76′), Barella (9), Brozovic (7), Hakimi (7); Martinez (6) (Sanchez (N/A), 85′), Lukaku (6).
Juventus: Szczesny (6); Frabotta (4) (Kulusevsi (6), 58′), Bonucci (5), Chiellini (5) Danilo (5); Chiesa (5), Rabiot (4) (McKennie (6), 58′), Ramsey (5) (Bernardeschi (5), 58′), Bentancur (6); Morata (5), Ronaldo (5).
Goals: Vidal (12′), Barella (52′)
Referee: Daniele Doveri
Yellow Cards: Bonucci (36′), Young (60′), Morata (62′), Barella (67′)
Red Cards: N/A