One of the if not the marquee matchup in Europe this weekend will happen on Saturday as Juventus travel to Milan and take on rival Inter in the Derby d’Italia. The reason the games between Juventus and Inter are referred to as the Derby D’Italia is because it is the biggest game on the calender each Serie A season and also considered one of the most intense encounters played each Serie A season.
What makes the first encounter of the 2013-14 Serie A season the most anticipated game in Europe this weekend is that both come in having won their first two league games. Juventus have started the season with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria and a resounding 4-1 win over Lazio. The two-time defending champions have picked up where they left off last season as they have continued playing like a well oiled machine in the favored 3-5-2 formation preferred by coach Antonio Conte.
Like Juventus, Inter also come into the game having won their first two league games under new coach Walter Mazzarri. After having finished ninth in the 2012-13 season, Inter needed to get off to a good start. And with many new players coming into the squad no one was sure how they would start, but Inter have looked good in their wins over Genoa and Catania. Like Juventus, Inter also play in a 3-5-2 formation and have seen improved defensive play as a result of Mazzarri making the formation shift.
In a game which will be hard fought and disputed tooth and nail, the key to victory for either team will be who wins the midfield battle. It is in this area of the field where Juventus hold a clear and noticeable edge over Inter. Expect to see the usual starters for Juventus play in the midfield with Andrea Pirlo playing as the deep lying central midfielder flanked by Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba who are right now in top form. For Inter expect the midfield trio to consist of Fredy Guarin, Ricky Alvarez, and Mateo Kovacic. While Alvarez and Kovacic have had very good starts to the season, it is possible for them to be troubled and outrun by Juventus midfield and wing backs.
Expect to see a spirited game with both teams coming out and looking to control the battle of ball possession as they try to jump on and put the opposing defense on their heels in the first 15-20 minutes. After that, expect to see the game slow down and become more of a classic type of play in a derby where skill can sometimes take a backseat to physical play. In the end, I think Juventus win 2-0 with goals from Andrea Pirlo and Fabio Quagliariella in a game where Juventus score early, step off the gas pedal and then hit Inter on the counter midway through the second half to wrap up all three points.