On Friday, Gazzetta dello Sport addressed its front-page headline to Juventus.
“Who is going to stop you now?” demanded the newspaper above a picture of Pablo Osvaldo, the striker who has completed a loan move from Southampton. That would be some coup for the champions; although Osvaldo has struggled to adapt to the Premier League, the fact remains that he scored 16 times in 29 Serie A games for Roma last season.
Given that Juventus already sit top of Serie A, with a six-point lead over second-placed Roma, and a league-leading 51 goals to their name, it is easy to see how their rivals might come to despair. Frankly, their opponents this Sunday were already feeling rather fraught.
What a difference four months makes
Inter are one of only three teams to take points off Juventus so far this season, having held the Bianconeri to a 1-1 draw when the two teams met in Milan last September. But back then the mood amongst Walter Mazzarri’s men was rather different to what it is today.
They had started brightly under their new manager, winning their first two games. Their form over the next few weeks would see them cast as dark horse contenders for the title.
These days, by contrast, Inter are struggling to hold on to fifth place, and with it Italy’s final Europa League berth.
They are yet to record a victory in any competition so far in 2014, and have won just once in Serie A since November. Impressions of a club in disarray under new owner Erick Thohir were reinforced by the club’s bungled handling of a mooted exchange deal with Juventus, which would have sent Fredy Guarín to their rivals in return for Mirko Vucinic.
They did at last get one good piece of transfer business done this week, signing Hernanes away from Lazio for a reported €3m up front plus €17m more at the end of the season. Many will feel they have overpaid, though, for a player whose performances this season have not lived up to those of years gone by.
The Brazilian’s arrival still does not solve their more pressing need up front. Inter have scored just a single goal in their last five games.
There were reports that the Guarin-Vucinic swap might be resurrected, which would certainly have put an interesting slant on this Derby d’Italia.
Juventus should win regardless though, and given the Nerazzurri’s recent struggles in front of goal, I might back them to do so without conceding at odds of 2.40. The unders also look like a good price to me at 2.25.
Best bet: Juventus to win without conceding a goal – 2.40