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Sunday December 10 2017
The perfect game

Not exactly a feast for neutrals, the goalless draw between Juventus and Inter would be considered by some the ideal tactical stalemate, writes Emmet Gates.

“The perfect match would end 0-0,” wrote legendary Italian journalist Gianni Brera.

Brera, whose football ideology shaped the way Italians thought about the game throughout the 20th Century, believed a goalless draw was the ideal blend of defensive and attacking strength without any errors (and thus no goals).

Brera might well have been pleased with the outcome of the latest Derby d’Italia, then. The game won’t go down as one of the best Juventus v Inter duels, but it did offer some insight into where both teams lie at this stage of the season.

Whilst last night’s encounter wasn’t the grudge match that it morphed into post-Calciopoli, it simmered without ever exploding into life. In recent years the fizz had been lost somewhat from this clash, as their fortunes went in opposite directions over the course of the decade. Juve have coasted past Inter in this fixture with relative ease. Indeed, Inter had only taken one point away at Juventus in over five years.  

Max Allegri surprised everyone by leaving Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa and Alex Sandro on the bench, showing the frightening level of squad depth the Bianconeri now possess. Inter lined up pretty much as expected, with Luciano Spalletti’s men having no European football to contend with, they had a week to prepare for the game.

Yet, it didn’t really correlate to their performance on the pitch. Inter’s front four pinned Juventus back in the opening stages, but consequently also nullified their own potency. Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva scarcely kicked the ball throughout the evening. The pair had delivered more crosses than any other player in Serie A this season, yet were futile here, brilliantly locked down by Blaise Matuidi, Mario Mandzukic and Juan Cuadrado.

With Allegri utilising three players in the middle of the pitch, the central areas became congested. Mauro Icardi and Gonzalo Higuain were for large parts of the game reduced to bystanders as the ball ping-ponged around in midfield.

Samir Handanovic has long been an underrated goalkeeper, and Spalletti’s men owe a huge slice of gratitude to the tall Slovenian. Handanovic was equal to everything Juve could throw at him, and he also was granted some luck as Mandzukic hit the crossbar with a header on the stroke of half time.

Despite being the fresher of the two sides, Inter didn’t register a single shot on goal in the first half, a feat they hadn’t achieved since the Milan derby in May 2014.

In the second half Juve turned the screw and peppered Handanovic’s goal with shots, with Mandzukic particularly guilty of wasting some promising opportunities; Allegri’s tactic of raining in crosses from Cuadrado and Kwadwo Asamoah on either flank working well, with the big Croatian towering over Danilo D’Ambrosio. Inter offered nothing in response.

As Paolo Valeri blew for full time, Spalletti can feel the more relieved of the two Coaches. Inter proved that they will be right up there at the business end of the season, showing a resilience that has been absent at the club since the Jose Mourinho era. They dug deep in the cauldron that is the Allianz Juventus Arena, with Spalletti’s team becoming the first side to walk away from a game in said stadium with a clean sheet since Udinese managed a 1-0 win in August 2015.

After the game, Borja Valero stated that Inter had come to Turin to win, yet it’s clear that wasn’t the case. However, Inter remain the only unbeaten team left in Serie A.

It’s another clean sheet for a Juve team that - with a defence at the beginning of the season that was in total disarray - has now managed clean sheets in their last five consecutive games. Allegri switching to a three-man midfield has added a better balance and a defensive solidity that had been previously lacking.

In the end, it was a clash that would’ve had Brera gushing today. 

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Have your say...
Inter played well within their limitations. Juve squad is no doubt better than Inter but they lacked the desire to win on their own home turf. Allegri is too negative in his approach. he should have played Dybala, Sandro. benching your best players in one of the most important match is bizzare.
on the 16th December, 2017 at 8:32am
Libero is a cheater. Scared just like all of Inter constant dirty fouling from behind with the ball out of reach.
The aim is to score more goals not commit the most fouls, scare to let Juve turn on the ball.
Forza Pordenone!
on the 11th December, 2017 at 9:25pm
Marco- You can't lay all the blame on Marione not finishing. What did the rest of the team do?...nothing. We had nobody creating anything, and how do you create when your midfield has Matuidi and useless Khedira? Asamoah at LB who can't keep the ball or make a half decent pass/cross?. Most of our attack went through Cuadrado who becomes to predictable. You put Sandro and Costa in there at minimum, and we get all three points. He didn't even use all his subs and leaves Berna on the Bench also.
on the 11th December, 2017 at 5:33pm
Libero - you want him to call a penalty when the ball hit Benatia's hand while he was falling?.....nice try.
on the 11th December, 2017 at 5:23pm
handball in box should have been called and inter would have won 1-0. valeri was wrong to not check var.
on the 11th December, 2017 at 2:56pm
are juve and Milan fans disguising as inter fans on this post? times must be hard lol
on the 11th December, 2017 at 11:04am
C'mon, the Allegri bashing is a little harsh. Had Mandzu finished his 3 golden chances you would all be saying how good Allegri is tactically and how great the squad depth is that you could afford not to start Dybala and Costa.
Games are determined by moments, tactically Allegri got it spot on for a win in both attack and defense, it was just a bit of bad luck in those "moments". They had ample chances to finish off Inter.
From a Milan fan
on the 11th December, 2017 at 12:40am
@Anonymous why must there be at least one idiot ruining every blog. Its ok everyone its ok we found captain idiot!!
on the 11th December, 2017 at 12:05am
As an Interista, prior to the game we were looking at this match as a measuring stick to see how far inter has come and how we measure against one of the top 5 teams in Europe. We are still a long way off, juve deserved the three points, just missing a goal, inter did not resemble a team that will win the league this season or next season. May 2018 will look like...
1. Juve
2. Roma
3. Napoli
4. Inter
on the 10th December, 2017 at 11:47pm
@Anonymous: Juve want to win Europe. European Champions don't make excuses about midweek matches, they do the job. Inter are a team in development, barely out of FFP limits. Juve are a mature, deep, developed squad competing to win everything. Juve should have won that game. Usually, but not always, such mental weakness is the responsibility of the coach to fix.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 11:38pm
So it was a advantage for Juve to play midweek in the Champions League?
on the 10th December, 2017 at 10:44pm
jingle bells jingle bells interesti laughing all the way p.s juve fans talking about a deserved win? how ironic lol
on the 10th December, 2017 at 10:31pm
Spagliato, @Joon.

Juve had all the advantages: deeper squad, better players, more experience, more accomplished coach, playing home, several good chances. Yet they couldn't score. Poor finishing by Mandzukic and others, striker inconsistency this campaign, plus several unforced giveaways are all signs of mental weakness.

Inter played about as well as people expected. They're a developing squad with new coach, many new players and only one scoring threat. Juve should have won; they choked.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 9:56pm
The post match comments should be enough to tell you the philosophy of both coaches. Despite Inter not doing enough to win, Spalletti was not happy with a goalless draw, wanting a win. Allegri, on the other-hand, lol, for him was a fantastic result. This is the reason I do not trust Allegri anymore. He does not have the ambition to win the CL and yes that is my bias at this point. Serie A should be a formality for them now. Allegri should be coaching a provincial mid-table team, not Juve.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 8:22pm
My biggest problem is that Khedira plays in slow motion and Matuidi is ok but has less attacking confidence than in PSG.

@Calcione... Allegri showed that he is mentally weak and afraid to go for it. Juve on the other hand made Inter look like a bunch of U20 players playing against the senior team. Inter was the mentally weak team on the pitch with zero ideas. Don't confuse the two
on the 10th December, 2017 at 8:07pm
Am I the only one who was frustrated with Asamoah every time he touched the ball? I love and appreciate everything he provided in the Conte era, but he's too one dimensional. I don't think he won a single one-on-one moment. Why wasn't Sandro or Costa on? The rest of the team was fine, but any chance down the left was squandered by Asamoah literally almost every time. Ugh.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 8:06pm
This game revealed again how Juve simply are a mentally weak team, which is why they always choke in Europe. Despite so much more depth than a respectable but not exceptional Inter, they couldn't manage a goal --at home. It's always a mystery which June players will show up to play on any given day. Such inconsistency is a psychological issue.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 7:03pm
Allegri leading like a coward. We needed the 3 points. He again shames us with his subs, awful tactics, and squad selection. Even more wasteful in hindsight because Napoli drew with Firenze.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 6:46pm
Allegri has proved he has the tactical versatility to compete with & beat the very best but sometimes changing tactics for the sake of it is problematic. Even though Dybala is struggling to find his early season form he still has the capability of making things happen, especially for Higuain who is a different animal when he knows La Joya is nearby. Not starting Douglas Costa in such a huge game & not yet trusting Bernardeschi are hard to fathom. The game was there to win but we failed.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 6:00pm
Whatever Inter's tactics, which they have the right to play, Juventus' player's & management have only themselves to blame for not winning. Inter were there for the taking, but we not good enough to knock them out. It is clear to see that Mandzukic & Higuain should not play in the same starting XI, it has to be one or the other. Higuain is one of those strikers that never look like scoring until they do as he is ill-disciplined & shows too much emotion which cripple him in certain games.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 5:46pm
As i said on the blog during the game, allegri should have played costa, dybala and gone all out for the win, that would have sent out a big message as we could have gone top.Inter are an ok team who have relied heavily on incardis goals and the big advantage of no European games.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 4:56pm
This was perhaps Inters toughest game of the season.All of the scudetto contenders have trouble with Juve in Turin, it is just a fact.Inter is not the finished article but still managed not to lose to Juve, Napoli and Roma away in the first part of the season.We do not yet possess the depth that these other teams have (besides Napoli who don't have a scary bench).We are still top of the table with half a season left to go. We also get to play the top 3 at home to close out the season.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 4:44pm
look at all these kids crying. if you think juve deserved to win, THEY WOULD HAVE WON IT ALREADY.r3mp
on the 10th December, 2017 at 4:43pm
Juve tactics were very clear. Stop Icardi from getting any service at all and to do that they did what many teams in seria a failed to do and that is to completely stop Candreva and Perisic in both attacking and defending. Handanovic saved inter at the end to earn a valuable point but the threat from Icardi was very real as his only shot on target hit benetia hand even though it was not a penalty but it showed the form he is in right now.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 4:26pm
Average performance but good result for Inter nevertheless. See you at the reverse fixture for potential title decider Juve. Things will be different in Giuseppe Meazza..

Allegri's tactic was actually spot on, Spalletti, Perisic, and Icardi would love to get more space if Juve were to field more attacking line up. Especially with only 2-man midfield and just 1 hard working midfielder.

Given how clinical icardi is, and his fine record against Juve, maybe 2-3 shots on goal are enough.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 4:26pm
Inter's defense was not on par with Juve. Handanovic as always saved you. Unlike Szczesny that had 0 saves to make, and we all know if Inter was in any euro cup you would not even be in the top 4 in serie a atm
on the 10th December, 2017 at 2:36pm
The shame is not having a single shot at goal. At least when Juve played Napoli. Juve had the 2 biggest chances of the game with one of those resulting in a goal. Inter however showed how weak their team is, and for sure will not win any titles.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 1:04pm
"Perfect" games do not end 0 - 0; only a loser mentality would say so.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 12:45pm
Aside from that it was a decent game to watch. Inter played well considering the team they have. They dont have much quality options on the bench so did well not to concede. Juve i think just needed a bit more luck and should have used all of their subs and at better times. Oh well good luck guys i personally welcome the competition. Fed up of all the mindless bashing. Im interested to see what you peeps thought about the game as well.
on the 10th December, 2017 at 12:41pm
Its max's fault juve did not win. I dont like having firepower like costa, dybala and bernadeshi sitting on the bench. Also only 1 of those 3 came on. I mean yes inter are doing well but its not like we were playing against barca, bayern, real ect. Why not go for the win instead of seeing mandzukic mess up every clear chance we got over and over again. Also if we were 1st on the table maybe i wouldnt have mind playing like that but come on man. Max did a lot for juve so i wont bash him until apr
on the 10th December, 2017 at 12:32pm

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