When Juventus take on Inter in the 161st league championship Derby d’Italia tomorrow, they will create the latest chapter in the history of a match-up that has captivated Italian football fans as one of the most fiercely contested in world football.
First and foremost it is a clash between two of the most successful Italian sides, as Juve and Inter have won 49 Scudetto titles between them. But the “Derby d’Italia” term coined by legendary journalist Gianni Brera in 1967 at the height of Italy’s “economic miracle” shows that its significance goes beyond just sport. It is also a battle between the two biggest northern cities, the two greatest industrial and economic powerhouses of the last century.
Juventus have had the best of the tie overall with 76 wins to Inter’s 45, and it has traditionally been a high scoring affair, with an average of nearly three goals per game. The heaviest defeat that the Bianconeri have inflicted on their Derby d’Italia opponents was a 9-1 home victory in June 1961, with six of those scored by Omar Sívori in the year that he won the Ballon d’Or.
That day was also the final appearance of Juve icon Giampiero Boniperti, honourary president of the club after playing his entire career in the black and white stripes and holding the top scorer record for more than 40 years until it was broken by Alessandro Del Piero.
If their recent form at the San Siro is anything to go by, the Bianconeri will approach the game full of confidence and looking for a third straight success in Inter’s back yard. Both of their last two triumphs in Milan have come by a 2-1 margin, while they have emerged victorious from four of the last five championship encounters contested against the Nerazzurri.
In October 2011, Claudio Marchisio scored a memorable winner at the San Siro, netting from the edge of the area to seal a crucial victory in the course of Juventus’ Scudetto triumph.
The last time the two sides met was another 2-1 away victory for the Bianconeri in March this year, with Alessandro Matri this time getting the decisive goal after Fabio Quagliarella had shot the visitors into an early lead with a spectacular long-range drive.
It remains a hugely-anticipated fixture, and no doubt tomorrow’s 161st Derby d’Italia will not disappoint.