Juventus are as healthy as they’ve been in weeks and their recent injury-list exodus has arrived at an optimal time with the Derby d’Italia on the horizon.
With Alex Sandro and Denis Zakaria returning to the training field over the recent break, only long-term absentees Federico Chiesa, Weston McKennie and Kaio Jorge remain on the sidelines.
Thus, Massimiliano Allegri has several dilemmas regarding team selection for Sunday’s derby. It’s a crucial encounter in the race for the Scudetto and nothing but three points will suffice for the Bianconeri, who are hoping to make a late run for the title.
Juventus’ predicted XI vs Inter Milan
Contrary to popular belief, I fancy the manager to go bold with his starting XI. So, without further ado, here’s how Juve could line up for the Derby d’Italia against a faltering Inter Milan side.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – After helping Poland to the World Cup, another huge game awaits Szczesny on his return to calcio. It could be a busy night for the Polish international.
Danilo (RB) – A “champion” in the eyes of Allegri, Danilo is a shoo-in for Sunday despite returning from South America late in the week.
Daniele Rugani (CB) – It’s a toss-up between Rugani and Giorgio Chiellini, and I think Allegri will opt for the former due to his presence at Continassa over the past two weeks. Rugani scored in Wednesday’s friendly against Pro Sesto.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – Obviously.
Mattia De Sciglio (LB) – Luca Pellegrini impressed against Salernitana two weeks ago but I believe the manager will opt for the more reliable and less streaky De Sciglio for Sunday’s derby. The versatile full-back has performed better off the left this season and he’ll have a tough assignment in this one. Physical behemoth Denzel Dumfries has emerged as one of Inter’s primary goalscoring threats in recent weeks.
Arthur Melo (CM) – This might be a rare occasion where Allegri trusts Arthur Melo in a big game. The Brazilian has been sufficient since becoming a regular in the starting XI and, hopefully, he can dictate proceedings for periods akin to how Marcelo Brozovic inevitably will for the away side.
Manuel Locatelli (CM) – Locatelli missed Juve’s last Serie A outing due to COVID, but he was in action for Italy over the break and he’s a sure bet to start on Sunday. Juve desperately need a big game from the elegant midfielder who’ll likely be given the licence to support the front three.
Denis Zakaria (CM) – Zak is back! The January arrival spent a month on the sidelines with a thigh injury before returning to training at the start of the break. Initially, he was expected to make Sunday’s matchday squad, but the latest trends suggest he could earn a start in his maiden Derby d’Italia.
Paulo Dybala (RW) – This will be Dybala’s first appearance since it was revealed that he won’t be extending his Bianconeri contract. Only time will tell how that revelation affects his play on the field as we enter the final stretch of the season. However, I suspect La Joya will be determined to go out on a high note.
Dusan Vlahovic (ST) – Allegri waxed lyrical over his shiny new Serbian toy in a recent interview, describing him as one of his generation’s best. He’s almost guaranteed to start his first Derby d’Italia on Sunday despite picking up a minor knock over the break. These are the sorts of encounters where Juventini need to see the most efficient iteration of the 22-year-old.
Alvaro Morata (LW) – Morata was Juve’s leading scorer in March and his ‘hot’ streak continued during the break as he scored a brace for Spain against Iceland. On Sunday, the selfless forward will perform his take on the Mario Mandzukic role.