A vintage Juventus visit the San Siro on Sunday night for yet another blockbuster domestic clash.
The Bianconeri are on a roll, and victory in the Derby d’Italia will put them level on points with Sunday’s opponents, Inter Milan: last season’s champions. The Nerazzurri have lost just once in Serie A, although that defeat did come last weekend away at Lazio.
Nevertheless, Simone Inzaghi’s Inter remain a force and are essentially a watered-down iteration of Antonio Conte’s juggernaut. Their dynamics, technical proficiency and stringent structure pose so many problems for the opposition and Massimiliano Allegri has his work cut out if he’s to mastermind a Juventus victory in this one.
The Bianconeri boss is set to welcome Paulo Dybala back to the fold, but it remains to be seen whether the Argentine will start the contest after almost a month out with a thigh strain. Still, Juventus are fully fit for the Derby d’Italia and here’s the starting XI Allegri could deploy.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – It’s four clean sheets on the bounce for Szczesny, whose stock is on the rise again following a torrid start to the new season. The Poland international’s a shoo-in to start.
Danilo (RB) – The Brazilian looked exhausted against AS Roma but still produced a fine performance that manifested his intelligence and versatility. Danilo earned a much-needed rest in the week and is ready to return to the starting XI for Sunday.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) – No one has registered more Serie A minutes for Juventus than Bonucci (630) this season. The veteran has enjoyed a stellar start to the campaign and is developing a stout relationship with his potential partner on Sunday…
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – Giorgio Chiellini could easily return to the starting XI following his vintage display against the Giallorossi. However, De Ligt is in superb form and he produced a dominant performance against Artem Dzyuba in the 1-0 win over Zenit. The Dutchman deserves a consistent run in the team.
Mattia De Sciglio (LB) – The man of the moment. After impressing on his return to the team against Roma, De Sciglio teed up Dejan Kulusevski’s winner in the week with a delicious delivery from the left. The right-footed Italian must start on merit, and he strangely looks more at ease at left-back.
Federico Chiesa (RM) – It’s been an unproductive period for Chiesa since he bagged the winner against Chelsea. However, his recent ‘struggles’ can be attributed to his deployment in a central role. I don’t think it suits him. Nevertheless, he returned to the wing against Zenit and looked typically menacing. On Sunday, I expect Allegri to return to the 4-4-2 and utilise the dogged Italian in midfield. He might be tasked with tracking Inter’s left wing-back in the defensive phase.
Manuel Locatelli (CM) – The Italian garnered some respite ahead of Sunday’s clash as he was substituted before the hour mark on Wednesday night. Locatelli is the lynchpin in Juventus’ midfield and he’s simply a must-start against Inter’s majestic trio.
Rodrigo Bentancur (CM) – While Juventini might be clamouring for Arthur Melo following his tidy cameo in Russia, Bentancur is Allegri’s guy on the big night. The Uruguayan’s diligence and energy out of possession will be imperative to disrupting the rhythm of Nerazzurri metronome Marcelo Brozovic and chief creator Nicolo Barella.
Weston McKennie (LM) – Adrien Rabiot’s back but the Frenchman will have to impress to regain his spot in the team. McKennie was bright on Wednesday night and is well-suited to Rabiot’s hybrid function. Should he play this role, the American will be tasked with screening Barella in his favoured right half-space while pressing Inter’s right wing-back. In possession, he’ll attempt to receive between the lines, offer bursting runs in behind and persistently enter the Nerazzurri’s box.
Dejan Kulusevski (CF) – Paulo Dybala should make Juventus’ squad for Sunday but I don’t expect him to start. Thus, it’s time Kulusevski earned another start following his midweek winner. The Swede needs to take his chance soon, but he’ll enter the contest brimming with confidence. I like the dynamic between himself and his strike partner.
Alvaro Morata (ST) – Kulusevski’s presence between the lines means Morata can do what he does best: doggedly run the channels. The Spaniard was uninfluential against Zenit but he’d enjoyed a productive start to the season before his injury. His transition threat will be imperative against an Inter side who are susceptible to the counter-attack.