The Bianconeri will be crucial outsiders who will start the competition. Inter have six points at Juve this season and still have a chance to defend the title (barf). AC Milan slip at some point in the last three rounds. Inter also have an advantage in mutual encounters this year, with no defeats in the three they have played.
However, all three games were relatively close. In their first meeting at San Siro, Juve were thoroughly outplayed, but did not allow Inter to knock them out and managed to pull them out even after a late penalty. Their next encounter was at the Supercoppa Italiana in January, a game played to a dead heat just to see Alex Sandra’s mistake at literally the last second of the gift Nerazzurri win 2-1. A month ago, Inter visited Allianz and saw Juve play an unusually aggressive game, but were left without a 1-0 winner thanks to a somewhat unpredictable penalty shoot-out — and a few equally cunning non-calls from the other side.
Juve will enter this game as outsiders, and rightly so, but these results of the mutual meeting show that Juve can really win this game – if they correct everything properly.
And what does correcting things mean? I’m glad you asked, Timmy. There are some very defined keys to this game for the Old Lady, and we will implement them here.
Starting … now.
Let the porter work
At his peak, Samir Handanovic was one of the best goalkeepers in Serie A – and perhaps in the world. There were a few individual seasons in which he was probably the best performer that year. He will enter the legend of Inter, and rightly so.
But he is now 37 years old and not as old as some of his contemporaries. During the last two seasons, some earthquakes have crept into his game. This was clearly seen in April, when Handanovic made several mistakes that could have been far more serious had Juve managed to get him to pay for them. It is clear that he is in the final stages of his career. Inter admitted it smoothly agreeing by arrangement with future free agent Andrea Onan, currently in Ajax.
But Onana will not arrive until the summer, which means that Handanović will be among the bats of Inter next Wednesday night – at least if he is healthy. While playing against Udinese over the weekend, he missed Inter’s postponed match with Bologna last week due to a stomach injury. Let’s check out how his spare, Ionut Radu, worked in his absence.
URKAJ OD ANDREJ RADU.
LOSS OF INTER THAT COULD COST THEM SCUDETT.
THE TITLE IS NOW IN MILAN’S HANDS. ⚫ pic.twitter.com/c48UCXVs4n
– CBS Sports Golazo @ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 27, 2022
Whichever goalkeeper ends up in the game, Inter now have serious concerns about the goal. Juve must make the most of it by throwing as many shots at the target as possible.
This, unfortunately, has been a tricky proposition lately. Overall, Juve collected shots at a much better speed than it was earlier in the season, but there were not enough quality attempts. Look no further than the last game between the two teams. An eye test showed Juve’s team was far better than it was most of the year, but the statistics behind that performance tell a different story. Despite beating Inter 22-5, only four of those shots were in the box, a serious setback for Handanovic, who is clearly struggling. Juve have seen similarly big differences between shots and shots in the last games against Bologna and Venezia. In the last game, Juve scored only four of 17 shots on goal, only one of those four came from an open game, and it was all performed by defenders.
This trend will have to change if Massimiliano Allegri wants to avoid Juve’s first trophy-free season from 2010-11. Their opponents are shaky on goal at best, and if they want to pull out the irritation, they will have to take advantage of it and get the keeper to work as hard as possible.
One of the keys to Juve’s first few games against Inter this season – as well as last season – was a man who is no longer on the team.
Dejan Kuluševski was much slandered during his time at Juve. He has never fulfilled his potential (although he is now showing it in large quantities in London), but my former big adult son has played key roles in several Derby d’Italias over the last few years taking on the thankless task of marking Marcelo Brozovic.
Brozovic is a straw that mixes Inter’s drink. without his presence at the foot of their midfield, their course tends to fall apart, and he missed out on some of their poorer results this year. Only Milan Skriniar has a higher passing rate, and he has a key pass in the game on average, apart from being a defensive rock, averaging 2.3 interceptions and 1.1 interceptions per game, which is the highest for both teams.
Brozovic is the key to Inter’s midfield, and his neutralization as much as possible is a big step towards them. The question is how to do it now that there is no Kuluševski, who did a pretty good job during the tenure of Andrea Pirlo and the first part of Allegri. Allegri seems to have compensated last month by putting pressure on the whole team, which seemed pretty good, given that Inter had only five shots and hit only a target from the white spot. Allegri should think on Wednesday about making a similar plan, or if not something that will similarly keep Brozovic closed and incapable of orchestration.
You would think this goes without saying, but after Supercopp it has to happen again. If Alex Sandro hadn’t farted into his brain with literally seconds to go, that game goes into penalties and who knows what might have happened.
Inter is a tough enough team to win as it is. Giving them a chance to beat you up is a recipe for disaster. Juve must enter this match focused and refrain from any donation until the change of jersey after the match. Otherwise they could be punished very quickly.
Be as healthy as possible
What this essentially means is praying to any sacred thing you attribute that Juan Cuadrado manages to be healthy enough to play in this game. All the other injured players, like Weston McKennie and Manuel Locatelli, are pretty ready to miss the rest of the season at the moment. Cuadrado is the only creator of the difference that could return for this match, and frankly, it will be much needed. Cuadrado is one of the most consistent sources of attack on the team, and while without him they broke through Sassuolo and Venezia, you can be forgiven for being far less in the mood for their chances against Inter with Federico Bernardeschi starting from the right. If Cuadrado is healthy, the chances of success increase significantly.
The consequence of this is to ensure that guys who are healthy stay that way. With the top four closed, Friday’s game against Genoa is completely pointless, and it’s not a bad idea to dive into the U23 side and give a few guys a breather. The second team is currently playing in the playoffs to promote Serie C after finishing eighth in their Girona this season, but their purpose is ultimately to serve the first team, and if that means bringing in a few guys to give guys like Danilo a breather before the biggest remaining match on schedule, must be done. A major injury could completely change the game and should be avoided.