The TV schedule this weekend is jam packed full of sporting events, there is absolutely far too much going on! Take your pick from the Ryder Cup, Chelsea-Arsenal, Barcelona-Mallorca and Real Madrid-Deportivo and that’s just on Sunday! That line-up also ignores Il Derby del Sole (The Sun derby) between an exciting Napoli side and a Roma side lacking confidence.
With all of that on offer, why would you want to settle down on a Sunday evening to a bit of nitty gritty niggly Serie A? Il Derby d’Italia is one of the most anticipated games in the Serie A calendar, contested between Juventus and Inter, perhaps not the title-clincher it once was but still carries the sentimental importance that Manchester Utd vs Liverpool does in the English Premier League.
The name for the tie was coined by Italian journalist Gianni Brera in 1967 as a tie between the ‘Girlfriends’ of Italian football as the clubs are occasionaly referred to. For a significant portion of the last half century it had been a tie between the two most successful sides in Serie A, this was breifly ended by Milan who overtook Inter for most Scudetti. The balance has been restored in the last 6 years however with Inter’s relatively easy run to 5 consecutive titles. The rivalry has its roots in April of the 1960-61 season, the game in Turin abandoned due to crowd trouble and a pitch invasion was initially awarded to Inter but then reversed and a replay was ordered after the final round of games. By the time the replay came around the title had already been sealed by Juventus and Inter boss Helenio Herrera fielded his youth side who were duly given a 9-1 spanking by the now champions of Italy. Let the games begin.
Despite stuttering to a 0-0 draw against Bologna, mainly thanks to Bologna goalkeeper Emiliano Vivano, Inter are now back at the top of an incredibly competitive Serie A. Rafa Benitez is struggling to shake of the spectre of ‘the special one’. His hands have been tied by the lack of transfer activity during the summer and the achievements of a season past that will be nigh on impossible to re-achieve never mind better.
Benitez has too many options available to him after Samuel Eto’o put a hat trick past Werder Bremen in a 4-0 demolition on Wednesday evening. Notably the exclusion of Diego Milito from that midweek game allowed Eto’o to play in his favoured position as the central striker. The Argentine will return at the weekend and this could force Eto’o back onto the wide right channel we have become accustomed to seeing him in, a position he has been openly reluctant to play for extended periods.
Meanwhile Juventus are a side who are still very much in transition with Gigi Del Neri still looking for consistency from his new signings. Centre back pairing Bonucci and Chiellini, Italian National team pairing also, will need a little more time to gel after having let 3 goals in against Lech Poznan, Sampdoria and Palermo already this season.
Del Neri has been rolling out the sound bites today after being questioned over his famous 4-4-2 he stated that with his flying wingers it bore a better resemblance to a 4-2-4. It will be an interesting battle in the middle of the pitch against Inter’s established 4-2-3-1 shape, a formation that is unlikely to change under Benitez. Whichever central midfield pairing Del Neri decides to go with they will have an enormous amount of work to do if they are hoping to keep hold of the ball.
Inter are certainly favourites for the but with so many unpredictable results already this season in Italy’s top flight I’m hoping we’ll be served up a cracking fixture. It has been a great tie over the last few years, Chris Nee of Two Footed Tackle has provided a lovely round-up of the last 5 games.