In the game of the week in Europe, Juventus traveled to Milan and took on rivals Inter in the Derby d’Italia to get matchday three in Serie A started.
In what was a well contested game, Inter and Juventus drew 1-1 to maintain their undefeated starts to the 2013-14 Serie A season. What stood out was how new Inter coach Walter Mazzarri and players who were not on the team last season were instrumental in how well Inter played.
Inter came into the game having won their first two games of the season, a necessary start for the team after a disappointing end to the 2012-13 season which saw them finish ninth. Aside from winning the first two games, Inter have also done a good job of playing better defensively. Inter came out in a 3-5-1-1 formation with the surprise being Ricky Alvarez playing an advanced role as a supporter for the lone striker Rodrigo Palacio.
The first half saw Juventus be the better of the two teams as they controlled ball possession and had the better scoring chances. Yet, the Inter defense was stout, led by Hugo Campagnaro, who played for Mazzarri at Napoli. This would change in the second half for Inter, who began to assert themselves more in attack as Juventus began to fall by the wayside physically to a certain extent.
The introduction of Mauro Icardi, a player who was signed over the summer by Inter from Sampdoria, helped give Inter more fluidity in the final third. It was Icardi who scored the 1-0 for Inter as he took advantage of lax defending to chip a shot over Gianluigi Buffon. While the lead for Inter would only last for two minutes as Arturo Vidal equalized for Juventus, Inter were able to end the game at least being able to hold onto a draw.
This was a very good result for Inter as they continue to build something after last season’s debacle. It is clear that coach Mazzarri has done a good job of solidifying the defense and giving it structure with help of Campagnaro, whose past playing for Mazzarri in his three-man defense has paid dividends.
In attack, Inter have more tactical flexibility this season, and the fact that they can bring a player like Icardi in from the bench is a testament to this. While Inter will probably not finish in a Champions League spot, this is a team who can finish in a Europa League spot at the end of the season.