Three wins from their last four games including impressive performances against high flying AS Roma and Lazio has seen Inter Milan climb up the Serie A table to challenge for a Europa League place next season.On Saturday afternoon they welcome champions Juventus to the San Siro for this season’s second instalment of Il Derby D’Italia and the timing of this game could not be better for coach Roberto Mancini and his team, after the Bianconeri’s astonishing performance in Madrid on Wednesday which saw them claim an unlikely place in the Champions League final on June 6th.
A win on Saturday would (temporarily at least) see I Nerazzurri leapfrog their main challengers and put them into one of the automatic qualification spots for next seasons Europa League ramping up the pressure on Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Genoa who all play later in the weekend. Inter Milan will have to do this without their star player of recent matches Anderson Hernaneswho, having scored both goals in their 2-1 away win at Lazio, picked up his fourth booking of the seasonmeaning he will have to view this one from the stands.
The absence of Hernanes could mean a starting place for Swiss international XherdanShaqiri playing in the role just behind a front two of Mauro Icardi and Rodrigo Palacio. There’s more bad news on the injury front for Mancini after it was revealed that Colombian midfielder FredyGuarin will miss the rest of the season with a thigh injury, his place could be filled by Croatian Marcelo Brozović. Saturday may also be goalkeeper Samir Handanovič’s penultimate match at the San Siro amid rumours of a reported summer move to AS Roma.
Celebrations went on long into the night on Wednesday as Juventus returned to the final of the Champions League after 12 years. The Turin giants could land the treble this season having already clinched the domestic title and with the Coppa Italia final against Lazio to play on the 20th of May. Coach Massimo Allegri will opt to rest players this weekend after an exhausting two legged semi-final against Real Madrid and with the domestic cup final only days away.
French midfield star Paul Pogba will in all probability, start on the substitute’s bench having only just returned from injury on Wednesday night in the Bernabeau with Andrea Barzagli partnering Angelo Ogbonna in the centre of defence. Stefano Sturaro could join Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal in midfield with Argentine Roberto Pereyraplaying the number 10 role behind Fernando Llorente and Wednesday night’s hero Alvaro Morata.
The corresponding fixture at the start of the year ended in a 1-1 draw. Carlos Tévez gave Juventus an early lead before Mauro Icardi levelled things for Inter Milan with 25 minutes to go. The big question ahead of the return fixture is just how hungry I Bianconeri will be now all thoughts are turning to early June.
Our Probable Formations:
Inter (4-3-1-2) Handanovič; D’Ambrosio, Ranocchia, Vidić, Juan Jesus; Brozović, Medel, Kovačić; Shaqiri; Icardi, Palacio
Juventus (4-3-1-2) Buffon; Padoin, Ogbonna, Barzagli, Rômulo; Sturaro,Marchisio, Vidal; Pereyra; Llorente, Morata
BY STEVE MITCHELL