Take the game to Inter Milan
Inter’s current superiority over their Derby d’Italia rivals is distinct and this qualitative gap will be exacerbated by the Bianconeri’s availability on Wednesday. They’re without key men, but that’s not to say they’re incapable of pulling off the upset.
However, I fear that Allegri will play into Juve’s inferiority complex and plan to hold off the Nerazzurri as opposed to taking the game to them. The Old Lady have proved time and time again under Max’s stewardship that they’re a better team when handed more freedom to play and what exactly have they got to lose on Wednesday? There are no expectations whatsoever.
Inter are brilliant and they’ll control the contest for the most part. But Juve can’t allow this contest to boast the dynamic of a clear underdog and favourite. It can’t be attack versus defence akin to Juve’s 4-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge back in November. If Allegri adopts his default approach of blocking space and counter-attacking, Juve will inevitably succumb to wave after wave of Inter attacks because they’ll struggle to get up the pitch in Federico Chiesa’s absence.
Although, the aggressive nature of Inter’s exterior centre-backs, particularly Bastoni, means that there often is space to exploit in transition down the flanks. But will Juve be able to make the most of it considering their likely personnel?
I have my doubts, which is why I’d love to see the Bianconeri take a more aggressive approach. While they lack the explosive profiles to do damage on the counter, they possess a group of midfielders capable of retaining and circulating possession. Allegri needs his midfield to be bold on Wednesday because Inter are a good, but not excellent, pressing outfit. Their number of high turnovers in Serie A this season (172) ranks fifth, while their 11.5 PPDA (passes per defensive action) is seventh lowest in the division – the lower the number, the more effective the press.
Thus, Juve must be wary of Inter’s work without the ball, but they shouldn’t be overwhelmed. They have the requisite security in the build-up to play out from the back and bypass Inter pressure. The Bianconeri must be patient in possession and limit the number of low % direct balls into the forwards. Otherwise, Inter’s superb back three will have their way with Alvaro Morata, Inter will dominate the ball and Juve will sink deeper and deeper.
Without possession, a 4-3-3 structure would be better suited to compromising Inter’s build-up compared to Juve’s typical 4-4-2. The former allows Juve to match Inter’s defence and midfield man-for-man, while the latter gives Inter a natural overload in the build-up. While I don’t expect Juve to press persistently on Wednesday, they must be aggressive in their defensive block and ensure every action is an ordeal for the Nerazzurri.
I’d love to see some vintage grinta on display and for the Bianconeri to take the game to their superior hosts. They have very little to lose, and plenty to gain.