Derby d'Italia: The infamous Inter-Juventus rivalry

Posted by Mike Whittaker

Diego MilitoGettyImagesDiego Milito will hope to swing the derby d'Italia Inter's way

This weekend sees Inter travel to the Juventus stadium in Turin for the 183rd Serie A meeting of the two most successful clubs in Italy. The derby d'Italia, as the fixture was dubbed in 1967 by the famous Italian sports journalist Gianni Brera is one of the most intense matches in world football. With a fierce rivalry that is so deeply rooted in each club's history, it is almost an unwritten rule that fans of one club will automatically despise the other even if they're unsure why.

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The animosity between Inter and Juve has over half a century's worth of history, and although no one knows for certain what started the rivalry between the clubs it is widely accepted that the famous 9-1 Juventus win in the 1960/61 season was a major contributing factor. Unsurprisingly it all boils down to what we'll call irregularities on the Bianconeri's part that have fuelled the fires between the two clubs.

In April of 1961 second placed Inter travelled to Turin to take on first placed Juventus, and like the situation this season Inter were only four points behind the league leaders. Confidence was high for the Nerazzurri after winning the Milan leg of the fixture earlier in the season, and the team were hopeful to repeat the result and close the gap on first place.

Unfortunately, more fans than the stadium could hold turned up to see the game resulting in around 5000 spilling out from the stands to watch from the sidelines and even from the Inter bench. Despite the extreme overcrowding the game started as planned, but after just 30 minutes of play the referee called for the match to be abandoned when Juventus fans stormed the pitch.

According to the rules at that time Inter were rightly awarded a 2-0 win, just as Juventus had been in similar circumstances a few seasons previously, but Juventus took offence to this decision and appealed to the Italian football governing body, the FIGC (Funny how they didn't see anything wrong when the decision favoured them!).

On the last day of the season, the court ruled that Inter's win wouldn't stand and the game would have to be replayed. In the eyes of Inter, the players and the fans this ruling virtually handed Juve the Scudetto. To make matters worse the head of the FIGC at that time was Umberto Agnelli, president of Juventus FC (father of the current president, Andrea Agnelli) which anyone with sense can see was a severe conflict of interests.

Inter president Angelo Moratti (father of the current Inter president, Massimo) and legendary coach Helenio Herrera decided the Nerazzurri would play the match, but to show it for the farce that it was they fielded the primavera team in protest. The outcome was a 9-1 destruction of Inter by Juve and a rivalry that continues today was born. It's staggering to think that events that occurred 50 years ago are still colouring fans' opinions, but we have long memories and the legend of that game lives on.

Since then there have been many more controversial games with dubious outcomes, including the one that sparked my own loathing for the Turin club and made the rivalry relevant to a whole new generation of Interisti. In 1998 Ronaldo was famously denied an obvious penalty shortly before Juventus were granted an undeserved one down the other end of the pitch. Eight years later the world discovered the real cause of these dubious decisions as the Calciopoli scandals were revealed - resulting in Juventus having two titles stripped from them and being demoted to Serie B.

Last season Juventus stirred it all up again as they won the Scudetto, claiming that the stripped titles were rightly theirs and they were entitled to add a third star on their shirt signifying they've won 30 Scudetti. Even though officially the world football governing bodies only recognise 28 titles, both the club and fans still insist that they have 30, even showing this in their recently built stadium.

As you can see this rivalry is so intense that it is a defining element for both fan bases and has elevated itself to one of the biggest in world football, often compared to the likes of Celtic v Rangers or Boca v River plate. Add to all this the fact that the newly invigorated Inter are hot on the heels of Juventus in this seasons title chase, and the Nerazzurri would love to break the Old Lady's 49 game unbeaten run. All the history, passion and depth of feeling involved in the derby d'Italia, not to mention the importance of securing the win, almost guarantees the match will be one of the highlights of world football this season, a game that will thrill and entertain regardless of your loyalties.

Nothing would bring me greater pleasure than seeing Juventus knocked back down to earth with a win for the mighty Nerazzurri. Most importantly, no matter what they say or do, they can never change the fact that despite Inter has less Scudetti, the Nerazzurri possess a few things Juve will never have - and above all else a treble!

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