Inter Milan and Juventus both had difficult starts to the Serie A season. However, the two coaches managed things in different ways and Inter Milan coach Simone Inzaghi was able to turn things around while Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is still in a difficult situation. After twelve matches, Inter Milan are sixth with twenty-four points, one behind fourth place AS Roma while Allegri's team is seventh with twenty-two points. The two teams will face each other on Sunday at the Allianz Stadium in Turin for a crucial Derby d'Italia that will tell us a lot about the Champions League race (you can catch all the action on Paramount+ and when you sign up using offer code ALLYEAR get 50% off the annual plan).
While their start of the season was pretty similar in the domestic competition, the UEFA Champions League group stage told us a different story. Inter Milan went through the group stage and qualified for the Round of 16 in the most difficult group with FC Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona and Viktoria Plzen while Juventus arrived third with only one win and three points scored against Maccabi Haifa, while Benfica and Paris Saint-Germain qualified for the knockout stage. Juventus will play the next round of the UEFA Europa League, but the disappointing European campaign put more pressure on the position of Allegri. Let's try to analyze what Simone Inzaghi did that Allegri didn't, at least so far, to improve the performances of the teams.
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Inzaghi was forced to change
The Nerazzurri, after a difficult start, had only one defeat in the past four weeks against and that was against Bayern, after they were already qualified for the knockouts in the Champions League. Meanwhile, the last game they lost in Serie A was against AS Roma on October 1. Inzaghi made some choices that had some important benefits for the whole roster and environment of the team. It started with the goalkeeper. Samir Handanovic, who was also the captain of the club, was benched after some poor performances that culminated against AS Roma with a goal scored by Paulo Dybala. From that moment on, Inzaghi decided to start all the following matches with Andre Onana in goal, and the former Ajax goalkeeper has been one of the best players on the pitch as he proved that he deserved the chance to be the starter.
Marcelo Brozovic, who sits at the base of Inter's midfield got injured in September with the Croatia national team and missed all the following matches. Inzaghi decided to play the most important matches with Hakan Calhanoglu as a playmaker where Brozovic usually plays, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan played alongside Nicolò Barella in the midfield. This new role of Calhanoglu gave a new fresh air to the team and he proved to be a good option in that position, one who can continue to offer a new tactical solution in the future when Brozovic is back. These tactical choices didn't change they way Inter play, but gave some key players a new role in the team and had a positive influence on other key players. Inter were really close to collapse, but Inzaghi was able to turn things around just in time before his position could potentially be in the danger.
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Allegri could do more despite injuries
On the other hand, Allegri had to face a much more difficult start of the season, especially after the Bianconeri were eliminated from the Champions League's group stage. The coach's tactical choices were also very much affected by injuries. In fact, Juventus had a major issue with injuries in the past month, with some key players such as Gleison Bremer, Dusan Vlahovic, Leandro Paredes and American International Weston McKennie all not available. Federico Chiesa finally came back against PSG on Wednesday after he missed the whole year after suffering an ACL injury. Paul Pogba, who still hasn't played a match after his comeback at the club, will also miss the 2022 World Cup with France, as announced by the agent of the player on Monday.
Despite the injuries, it is disappointing that the team is not improving the quality of soccer they play, and this is for sure something that Allegri is responsible for. The Bianconeri tried to change the tactical system, switching from the 4-3-3 to the 4-4-2 and also to a 3-5-2 lately, but despite all the changes, results didn't arrive. It's fair to say that Allegri should have probably tried to stick to one system because all these changes created only more confusion inside the dressing room, even if most of them were driven by some notable injuries.
While young talents such as Nicolo Fagioli, Fabio Miretti and Samuel Iling-Junior are starting to have some game time and are definitely the most encouraging factor as of now, experienced players like Leonardo Bonucci and Danilo are underperforming, while newcomer Bremer and young talent Federico Gatti are still trying to get adjusted. The defense is probably the most worrying side of the squad after the club tried to renovate the roster but also sold Matthjis de Ligt in the summer to Bayern Munich and replaced him with former Torino' captain Bremer, who needs time to become the player he used to be in the past. Allegri was always confirmed as the coach of the club by the board, but this upcoming week will be key to understand if they will give him more time after the World Cup break. The Derby d'Italia will definitely be a crucial turning point of the season for both coaches and teams.
- Date: Sunday, Nov. 6 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
- Location: Allianz Stadium -- Turin, Italy
- TV and live stream: Paramount+
- Odds: Juventus +205; Draw +225; Inter Milan +135 (via Caesars Sportsbook)