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Monday, February 14, 2011

Del Neri Outwits Leonardo in the Derby d'Italia

Derby d'Italia, as the match between Juventus and Inter Milan is famously called, is always a fiery encounter and not just because it is a match between two giants of Italian football but due to their rivalry after the Calciopoli scandal. For Juventus, beating Inter has always been a thrill in itself and last night such emotions were visible on the faces of all the top Bianconeri directors. Alessandro Matri's goal at the half hour mark sealed the match. The match had a lot to it than what the 1-0 scoreline would suggest.

If anybody had doubts on Leonardo's tactical abilities, their view could have only been strengthened after last night's match. The game was won more by the Del Neri's tactics on how his team contained all the possible attacking threat from Inter. Giorgio Chiellini at left back produced a stunning individual duel with Maicon, a treat to watch for the neutrals and at the same time little forward movement for Maicon. Surprisingly, we saw Chiellini more in the Inter half before the 45 minute break. On the other end, Eto'o was well marked by the 18 year old Sorensen, a remarkable show of faith from Del Neri towards the youngster asking him to mark a very experienced and in-form striker in such a big match. Inter's 4-3-1-2 looked narrow as Juventus were able to cut out all the supply from the Inter wings. The pressure was now on Sneijder to provide that killer pass to Pazzini but both the players were allowed very little space with tight markings from Bonucci, Barzagli and Aquilani. Aquilani had a great game defensively but offered little going forward on the counter attack. Perhaps this match showed how much Inter relies on Maicon and Eto'o than Sneijder. Juventus, when in possession, made more meaningful runs into the Inter defence. This was one of the characteristics of Juventus before the winter break when they had a good unbeaten run.

Matri's continuous movement caused problems for Inter as he regularly dropped deep, collected the ball and shifted the play towards Krasic who used his pace well to burst into the box through the right. Javier Zanetti as a right back looked tired after his midweek International duty for Argentina.The goal was a result of a similar move with Krasic letting an unmarked Sorensen cross into the box and a fine header from Matri ensured Juve took the lead. Another point of reference for Juve attack was Luca Toni who held the ball up well thus creating space behind him.

Leonardo might have provided a few inspired substitutions in recent weeks but his hold on this game looked weak. Pandev was introduced for Kharja and later Japanese international Nagatomo for Cambiasso. However, this game will be also be remembered for the miss of the season from Eto'o who failed to bury the ball in the back of the net in front of an open goal at the dying minutes. He, instead hit the crossbar and it landed just in front of the line denying the chance of apoint for Inter. Hardly a minute later, Eto'o again fumbled to get past Buffon on one-on-one situation. The match was tensed till the death, with Inter desperately searching for the equalizer and thereby providing the required space for Juve to score a second. Matri missed a few decent chances but Juve fans will remember his brave effort of staying on the pitch to ensure his team won despite struggling with a pain on his ribs.

During the start of this season, Juventus overturned a bad league start with a home win against Cagliari and then continuing with a good unbeaten run till the winter break. The fact that fascinates the most is that this time too, after last week's away 3-1 win over Cagliari, this short run of two wins in two games could lead to something positive.

In the pic: Matri getting past Inter centre back Ranocchia, chased by Maicon.

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