Juventus
    03.02.2017 16:00 - in: Serie A S

    #JuveInter: key names and numbers

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    Traditionally one of the biggest matches of the Serie A season, Juventus.com provides a bumper preview for Sunday’s Derby d’Italia against Inter
    Derby d’Italia data

    Juventus vs Inter. Bianconeri vs Nerazzurri. Two of Italy’s most successful clubs lock horns once more this weekend under the watchful eye of world football.

    It is the Old Lady who hold the upper hand in this fixture and victory on Sunday would be their 80th in the league against their old rivals. Inter, for the record, currently sit on 46 wins, while there have been 42 draws.

    Now focusing purely on their encounters in Turin makes even better reading for the reigning champions: 83 matches, 57 home wins, 15 draws and only 11 losses.

    Rare as they are, one of those defeats did happen to come at Juventus Stadium when in November 2012 a Diego Milito brace and Rodrigo Palacio strike sealed a 3-1 scoreline for the side then managed by Andrea Stramaccioni.

    That game aside, it’s been a very positive picture for the Bianconeri on home territory, winning six and drawing three of the last 10 meetings in front of their fans. 

    Shaping up for Sunday

    Since losing away to Fiorentina on 15 January, Juventus have picked up back to back wins over Lazio and Sassuolo, keeping clean sheets in both matches and generally dictating matches from start to finish, facing very few, if any, opposition attacks in the process.

    This has coincided with Allegri’s introduction of a more attack-minded 4-2-3-1 formation, in which all of his forward-thinking star players have shone so far from Gonzalo Higuain at the cutting edge of the line-up to Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira in midfield via Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado in between.

    The age-old theory that attack can sometimes be the best form of defence is certainly ringing true of late and the Bianconeri are looking for what would be a fifth league game without conceding in their last six this Sunday.

    After seven wins on the spin, Inter are the form side in Serie A and have risen from 11th to fourth place under Stefano Pioli, nine points off table-topping Juve.

    The only blot on the Nerazzurri’s recent record is Tuesday night’s home defeat to Lazio in the Coppa Italia quarter-final, which leaves them with only the league to focus on and the aim now will surely be of continuing their climb into the top three and qualification for Champions League football next season – an objective that had seemed heavily compromised by their slow start under former coach Frank de Boer.

    Key individual duels

    Sunday’s Derby d’Italia will pit a number of exceptional talents against one another and there could well be several individual duels taking place within the match itself.

    At first glance, the battle for supremacy in attack between Gonzalo Higuain and Mauro Icardi is perhaps the most eye-catching. Pipita’s eight goals in his last six games has seen him draw level with Inter’s frontman and fellow Argentine Icardi at the summit of the Serie A scoring charts (15 goals) and, while team victory will count for much more, both men will be keen to add to their tallies at Juventus Stadium.

    Moving into midfield, there’s the interesting face-off between Miralem Pjanic and Joao Mario. New signings for their respective clubs, both players have settled in well to their new surroundings with key contributions in the final third. Pjanic has eight goals and nine assists to his name in all competitions, while Inter’s Portuguese playmaker has set up three and scored twice in his last six league outings.

    Looking at the two rearguards, Leonardo Bonucci has established himself as the complete centre-back in recent seasons – adding fine distribution and a goalscoring touch to his usual defensive duties – and he deservedly received recognition through his inclusion in the FifPro World XI in December as well as the Best Player award for the 2015/16 Serie A campaign at Monday’s Gran Galà del Calcio.

    Among the men set to line up at the other end of the field for Inter will most likely be Jeison Murillo. The Colombian has won 71.8 per cent of his tackles and 62 per cent of his 50-50s, chipping in with 62 defensive clearances in the process.

    Then there’s the battle of the goalies: Gianluigi Buffon and Samir Handanovic. At the age of 39, Juve’s iconic keeper and captain continues to show razor sharp reflexes, such as his double save from Matteo Politano and Alessandro Matri against Sassuolo. Opposite number Handanovic is also enjoying a strong season between the sticks – his fifth for the Nerazzurri – and has kept five clean sheets in his last seven Serie A outings.

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