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Sunday September 29 2019
More than a Derby d'Italia

Football Italia’s Chief Correspondent Richard Hall asks if this Inter side really has what it takes to topple Juventus or does history already tell the story?

“Juventus won eight Serie A titles in a row, often winning hands down.” Antonio Conte continued that he was glad to have 18 points out of 18 as Inter’s impressive start was the best they have managed since 1966-67. The Nerazzurri are certainly throwing their hat into the ring and the ex-Bianconeri boss is definitely calling out his old team. There is a title challenge, that is for sure, but that is a brave thing to do. The Old Lady are veterans at this cat and mouse game, so Inter should be wary, history is always a good guide in situations like this and they also face each other next Sunday.

Helenio Herrera won his opening seven rounds in 1966. Foggia, Vicenza, Atalanta, SPAL, Lecco, Brescia and Torino all fell to an Inter side that had the likes of Mario Corso, Jair, Sandro Mazzola and Luis Suarez, just to name a few. This team were devastating and were taking on a Juventus side who they believed they were superior to.

Despite all the promise, the crushing Derby Della Madonnina win and the mixture of defensive collectiveness and individual brilliance, it would be a man called Beniamo Di Giacomo to break their hearts, as Mantova beat them 1-0 on the final day of the campaign. Juve’s win against Lazio sealed the Scudetto.

Whilst the world and football has changed light years from then, the lesson is still the same. Don’t write off Juventus. In 2015-16 I interviewed Roberto Mancini about his incredible start to the campaign. He talked about this rigid discipline and focus and how the team should not take their eye off the ball. They had beaten Atalanta, Carpi, won the Derby and then saw off both Hellas Verona and Chievo. What happened next was a disaster, as the day after this interview, I sat and watched Fiorentina tear Inter apart 4-1 at San Siro. They went on to draw their next three and inevitably, Juventus won the Scudetto.

Once again, this season there is hope. Conte has his team playing with aggression, style and a dogged determination that hasn’t been seen in Milan for some years. Talk of comparisons with Herrera or Jose Mourinho seem to echo from every Piazza in the city, especially since the Nerazzurri have stopped doing ‘pazza’ things. Antonio’s message was clear, Inter need to drop the ‘pazza’ tag. It was his request that the song C’e Solo L'Inter would replace Pazza Inter Amala when the teams walk out. There isn’t to be any symbol of the old crazy.

When Inter, 2-0 up away to Sampdoria saw Alexis Sanchez run into the box looking certain to get a third, many would have looked to the heavens and thanked the Lord for this new Coach. Moments later, when the Chilean walked off the pitch for being booked (for the second time) for diving, many would have changed their prayers. When Sampdoria then scored, these same people would have started to shake their fists at the sky, as it would have seemed that no matter what, Inter were going to throw this away.

This was Fiorentina all over again, this was that Mantova moment, this was so many games everyone had seen before, but it wasn’t. Inter came back with 10 men to win 3-1 and in turn lay down the gauntlet to Juventus. This was a spirited display with Conte banging the drum after the game saying that this group was good enough to battle back and that the difficulties made them stronger. This isn’t the Nerazzurri of old, something has started to feel different.

When Gigi Buffon admitted that Inter and Juventus are going head to head for the Scudetto and that they are wary of Conte and company, the battle lines seemed embedded. In that same interview however, the veteran goalkeeper talked of how Juventus were starting to enjoy their football under Maurizio Sarri although they were building brick by brick. It certainly seems that in Turin, ‘The Old Lady’ are starting to become what their Coach wants them to be, even if their expansive play hasn’t quite managed to dig deep into their DNA just yet. The danger for Inter is that if it does, it could be mind-blowing.

The Derby D’Italia is next and it is at San Siro. This is an opportunity for the Nerazzurri and Conte to deal a hammer blow to the champions elect. The would be more than three points, as the clubs are both in the process of changing the fabric of their being. Juventus are wanting to entertain, whilst Inter just want to win. The game will not just give an idea of how close the title race could be, it could also signal a changing of the guard.

Have your say...
@Johny
Why so salty?, conte could’ve played with more attacking & experienced players to break down slavia. But so what? It’s a draw, where does this ‘thrashed’ come from. Any big teams can draw against lesser opposition. Inter underestimated slavia, learn and move on.

Handa didn’t even have a single big save against cagliari,, even w/o red card, inter were always in control against udinese, still would’ve won regardless,, and we dominated lazio at 2nd half. Go rewatch the game.
on the 30th September, 2019 at 9:27pm
@ inter
Huh? "inter rested players for the derby"? You didn't see the match, I have to say. Only Gagliardini and Candreva started in the first 11 vs Slavia and "rested" for the derby against Milan;) Safe to say that in the most important match of the season (so far), Inter was trashed by a Slavia Prague side without any world class player. And more of this... on home soil, at Meazza.
on the 30th September, 2019 at 12:58pm
LOL Conte. I can't wait to see Juve crush Inter while he watching on the sideline. John Elkann's words "a cherry picker" to him seems affecting him deeply to chose Inter.
on the 30th September, 2019 at 7:32am
Look fwd to this derby, hopefully will be as tense (hopefully more) as El Classico during Pep's Barca & Mourinho's Madrid era.
on the 30th September, 2019 at 4:39am
What everyone seems to be missing - nobody thinks inter are going to win every game this year. But in years gone by, wev always performed well against the better teams, won more than we have lost, but its the easier games against mid to low table opposition that we continued to drop points. Games like the weekend against Samp after the red card would def have been a draw last year. Only 6 games down, but rather be 6 wins then less than that :)
on the 30th September, 2019 at 12:16am
@ Johnny - Slavia were better than inter because they were more prepared, inter rested players for the derby and anyone who watched could see there was no press, lack of intensity, inter expected to walk the match and paid the price. Lazio were very good in the first half, handa saved a couple of great chances, but just like Lazio did well in first half, inter were even better in the second. They went a man down and still completely dominated Samp.
on the 30th September, 2019 at 12:12am
Not a big Sarri fan, but my Juve show up for the big games, especially against Inter, and will pull a Slavia on them, beating them all over the pitch. It's the least we can do against that traitor Conte......
on the 29th September, 2019 at 11:18pm
I wonder how Icardi is enjoying not playing at PSG....
on the 29th September, 2019 at 10:12pm
Too much about Internazionale. Really? They have a new coach, runs a great streak of wins, but let's get a grip. Those whose easy-peasy matches, the REAL game was that against Slavia in Champions League, just least than 2 weeks ago. C'mon, the best Inter player vs. Lazio was their goalie. Handanovic was brilliant even against Cagliari, not to mention that vs. Udinese, Inter won after De Paul was sent off. So, what are talking about? The real deal is Sensi, a huge impact, but that's it.
SLAVIA;)
on the 29th September, 2019 at 6:14pm
The first real Derby D'Italia after that 2011 one in San Siro. May the best team win.
on the 29th September, 2019 at 3:14pm
@Robel Juventus under Allegri was a team that would get the result but only just. Juventus played down to there competition most of the time that's why the scoreline would be close but they always won. Inter have improved greatly under Conte and Juve have gotten even stronger and is basically slow burning like diesel when they get a full head of steam they will steamroll all of Italy. It takes time to implement Sarri's style than Conte, Conte style is instant while Sarri is not
on the 29th September, 2019 at 2:52pm
I think Juventus will win, buy it will be a fun game to watch.
on the 29th September, 2019 at 2:00pm
I truely believe that Inter will certainly defeat Juventus come next Sunday. If we recall back the last game at San Siro was a closely contested match and the coach was that clown while Juventus had a well oiled machine guided by their long servant coach who guided them to multiple Scudetti.

So, I say that with greatly improved squad and capable coach at the helm, I definetly fancy Inter. However,the Scudetto talk is absolutely premature and still see Juventus as clear favourites.
on the 29th September, 2019 at 12:45pm
It should be a great game next week

Neither team has been utterly convincing yet, especially Juve, who are a bit fortunate to have as many points as they do

Inter have been better, and Conte's usual instant effect seems to have happened again. He helped mid-table Juve and Chelsea become champions in his first seasons

Juve still have the best squad, despite weaknesses like Danilo and Khedira and a lack of cover at full-back

Inter really need to win next week to send out a strong message
on the 29th September, 2019 at 11:30am

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