Juventus will play their biggest game since the 2015 UEFA Champions League final when they host Inter on Saturday in the Italian derby.
There is much at stake for Juventus. Not only did they see their most formidable rivals end their nearly decade-long Italian Serie A domination, they also found themselves flirting with the very real possibility that they wouldn’t qualify for the Champions League next season. In fact, regardless of what Juventus achieved on Saturday, they need services elsewhere, even though Atalanta, Milan and Naples are all within walking distance.
And the Champions League is more important than ever for Juventus, who Only deep financial difficulties will be exaggerated If they fail to reach the competition.
Coach Andrea Pirlo is under more pressure than ever to succeed, and while the 3-1 victory over Sassuolo in the middle of the week provided some relief, Juventus’ performance this season has not been good enough.
There was some skew in their troubles in recent days, although Romelu Lukaku and several of his Inter teammates were not penalized for the 3am meeting after the 3–1 win over Roma. Juventus complained that Weston McKinney and several of his team-mates had been subjected to more cruel treatment for a previous breach, even though the Nerazzurri players had been eating dinner after the match and were legally within their rights.
However, it is another ingredient that adds flavor to a relationship that is always a contentious issue.
Juventus recently lost 3-0 at home on Sunday at home to Milan, and another such result would be disastrous for them, potentially ending their Champions League hopes and leaving Pirlo’s coaching credibility in tatters.
Meanwhile, Antonio Conte expects his Inter counterpart to keep his team foot on the ground and add to the pain of Juventus. A repeat of a 2-0 win in January would suit him.
Juventus have a full squad to choose from, while Inter are missing only Alexander Kolarov and Arturo Vidal, with Alexis Sanchez expected to return to the fold. Lautaro Martinez was sacked in the middle of the week for lack of efforts against Roma but must be retained after he apologizes for the bombing targeting Conte.
Expected line-up: Juventus vs Inter
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