Sunday evening’s big showdown in Italy comes from the San Siro as Inter host Juventus in the derby d’Italia.
EARLY PACESETTERS INTER BEGIN TO STUMBLE
After a whirlwind start to the new season which saw them win their opening five league fixtures, Inter were brought crashing down to earth in their last match in front of their own fans, hammered 1-4 by Fiorentina who now have a two point advantage over Roberto Mancini’s side at the top of the table. A hard earned, if not spectacular 1-1 draw in Bologna before the international break, means that the Nerazzurri go into Sunday’s high profile contest against their bitter rivals shaken and needing to stir. The two-week hiatus in the domestic championship has given the 50-year-old former Italian international tactician time to assess where the team’s problems lie and reports suggest he will switch formation on Sunday to try to bring more equilibrium to the starting XI.
JUVENTUS FINALLY WIN AT HOME TO BRING BACK THE BELIEF
It may only have been a 3-1 home win against Bologna (their first of the season) but it meant the world to coach Massimo Allegri as his team set their sights on climbing the Serie A table. The best sports betting sites still price them at *3.50 to be crowned champions once again in May, which is a testament to the fear the Old Lady instils into the rest of the opposition. Sunday night’s contest is being billed as a chance to grab the psychological edge over a title rival, Allegri will just be thankful for his team to get their first league win on the road this season.
All the pre-match gossip surrounds Mancini’s proposed 4-2-3-1 formation that he seems to favour for Sunday. It will certainly be a controversial decision should he go with it, as many observers believe big summer signing, French midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, should be relegated to the substitutes bench after some indifferent recent performances. Mancini however, views things a little differently and the youngster looks set to play in the holding role alongside Brazilian Felipe Melo. This would spell bad news for Chilean hard man Gary Medel, who could be the unlucky player to miss out.
Allegri will welcome back Italian international Claudio Marchisio (priced at *9.00 on the best online betting sites to be an anytime goalscorer on Sunday) into his midfield with German World Cup winner Sami Khedira, set to make his second consecutive start after returning from his long injury lay-off. Swiss defender Stephen Lichtsteiner, who has undergone minor surgery to fix a breathing problem, is still not ready to return and Argentinian midfielder Robert Pereyra is also missing due to injury. Juan Cuadrado, who has been excellent since his loan move from Chelsea, should keep his place in the centre of the park.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Inter (4-2-3-1) Handanovič; Juan Jesus, Murillo, Miranda, Santon; Kondogbia, Melo; Perišić, Jovetić, Biabiany; Icardi
Juventus (3-5-2) Buffon; Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli; Evra, Pogba, Marchisio, Khedira, Cuadrado; Dybala, Morata
HEAD TO HEAD
Inter have not beaten Juventus at the San Siro since April 2010. The Bianconeri certainly has the current psychological edge over their rivals, having won the last six meetings. Last season’s corresponding fixture is not the best barometer however, as the game was played in May with the Old Lady already having been crowned champions.
Inter 2.62 Draw 3.20 Juventus 2.80
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)