Frustration all round as Juve triumph over Inter

Posted by Mike Whittaker

A rain soaked Saturday afternoon saw the Nerazzurri host the Bianconeri in an encounter that ended with a result that was, in truth, expected. Am I disappointed with seeing Inter lose 2-1 to bitter-rivals Juventus? Of course I am! There are two teams the Interisti enjoy seeing their club beat over any other in the world, one is cross-town cousins AC Milan and the other is Juventus.

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The Derby d'Italia is always an important fixture, no matter where the two teams stand in the table. Although Italian football isn't seen as the powerhouse league it used to be, any meeting between these two giants should always be considered a highlight of world football.

This time around however, the 'derby of Italy' doesn't seem to be deemed important enough to warrant its usual Saturday or Sunday evening time slot, instead it was played out on a Saturday afternoon. This time slot is a rarity for Serie A and to group the highlight of this weekend's Calcio in with several other matches just seems like a kick in the teeth for both Inter and Juventus, who in my opinion deserve the usual prime time placement the fixture usually commands.

For us fans in the UK, it came as a double blow because of legislation here the TV channels are not allowed to broadcast live football between 15.00 and 17.00 on a Saturday afternoon, which left myself and many others having to rely on temperamental internet live streams to view one of the biggest games of the season.

I am told this ruling is to ensure that stadiums are filled during this prime time for English league matches, but in my opinion it is ridiculous to enforce it for foreign leagues too. Let's face it, not many of us can afford a day trip to Italy to see the game, so depriving us of a quality viewing experience at home is ludicrous.

The game itself was a very even affair with both sides enjoying 50% of the possession, but just like the first encounter back in November, it was Juventus who struck first early on in the game. Just three minutes into the match Fabio Quagliarella teed up a long-range dipping shot from outside the area that flew perfectly over the Inter defence and out of the reach of Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic. Unlike the controversial goal in the previous meeting, this one was completely legitimate and onside, I would even go as far as to say - through gritted teeth - that it was a fantastic goal, expertly taken.

Inter eventually gained an equaliser nine minutes into the second half, unsurprisingly through Rodrigo Palacio, but for all the good signs the Nerazzurri showed on the pitch the problems that have plagued the Milanese side all season were plainly obvious throughout the match. Inter players found themselves dispossessed all too easily, allowing the Bianconeri to launch dangerous counter-attacks. Bad positioning, especially in the defensive third, left wide open spaces for Juventus to take advantage of.<

It was partly this flaw that led to Alessandro Matri's goal, a strike that, as it turned out, won the game for Juve. The ease with which the visitors got past the Inter defence was unforgivable and when Quagliarella managed to send the ball into the path of the striker the Inter players were stood waiting for the whistle to be blown, thinking the ball went out of play instead of just playing on until the whistle was blown.

To be honest, I am surprised the Inter players even thought Nicola Rizzoli would make that call in their favour, after all the Bolognese referee has in the past appeared to be biased against Inter, especially after admitting publicly that he's a Milanisti. Of course I am not accusing him of any wrong doing or deliberate oversights on his part, but it would seem that the referee is slightly harsher to the club that are the main rival to the one he supports.

An apparent example of this in this game came when Antonio Cassano was brought down in the penalty area by Giorgio Chiellini but Rizzoli waved to play on, had Inter been given this spot kick then the outcome of the game could maybe have been different.

One call Rizzoli did get right however, was the red card for Esteban Cambiasso in the dying seconds of the game. Cuchu's nasty tackle on Sebastian Giovinco was deserving of the sending off and the veteran Inter midfielder should've known better than to let the frustration of losing such an important game affect his play on the pitch. In fairness to Cambiasso, he is reported to have visited the Juventus changing room after the match to apologise for making such a rash challenge.

The truth is this game could've gone either way, all the stats prove how close these two teams were in terms of possession and with chances on goal. The deciding factor was the mentality that the Nerazzurri players came into this game with. Before the match both myself and Andrea Ranocchia spoke of how Inter could win this derby as long as they approached it in the same way they did against Tottenham, but the team that took to the pitch this weekend bore little of the confidence or belief that we witnessed two weeks ago in the Europa League.

This possibly isn't entirely the fault of the players, I believe that if Stramaccioni hadn't once again switched to a three man back line and instead stuck with four defenders it may have possibly given Inter the slight edge to at least claim a point in this encounter. As it stands I will, grudgingly, admit it was a deserved win for Juventus and with just eight games left this season I just can't see either Napoli nor Milan being able to catch the Old Lady in the drive for their 29th Scudetti.

As for Inter's chance of finishing third and claiming that final Champions league spot, I have serious doubts as to whether its achievable this season. The deciding factor will be Wednesday's match against Sampdoria, when the two teams make up their game in hand. Anything less than a win for Inter and it will be fairly safe to say that the best they can hope for is another season in the Europa League.

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