MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) tackles Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia semi-final first leg tie between Juventus and Inter Milan.
Juventus v Inter Milan | Wednesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 2
The Derby d’Italia is always a spicy affair and the first leg of Wednesday night's Coppa Italia semi-final between Juventus and Inter Milan should be as eventful as ever.
These fixtures tend to provide controversy, corruption and epic encounters and I’m hopeful the latest instalment will keep us glued to the television screen this midweek.
Juve have enjoyed the better of the contest in recent seasons (W6-D4-L1) and the Old Lady are understandably skinny at 8/11 (Betway) to claim first leg honours. Massimo Allegri's side have recovered from a dreadful start to clinch 13 successive domestic victories and move to within two points of league leaders Napoli.
Sunday night’s 1-0 success over Roma was functional rather than flashy and marked the 13th fixture in which the Bianconeri had avoided defeat in Turin (W10-D3-L0). They were made to work by the capital club’s bus-parking 3-4-1-2 tactics but Paulo Dybala’s genius, not for the first time, proved decisive.
The Coppa Italia champions and record 10-time winners have kept eight clean sheets across those aforementioned 13 home outings with nine games falling below the 2.5 goals line. But Allegri has stated he’ll be resting and rotating a few key players in midweek as Juve continue their attack on three competitions.
Dybala, scored of 12 goals in 16 Serie A starts, has started on the bench for Juventus in both of their Coppa Italia outings whilst Leonardo Bonucci and Sami Khedira both look highly likely to get a breather on Wednesday. Nevertheless, I’ve still plenty of faith in the Old Lady’s well-oiled machine coming good.
Juventus are even-money off a -0.75 Asian Handicap with BetVictor but I prefer to explore SkyBet’s 6/4 offering on a home win by 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1. The Bianconeri have beaten Inter 10 times in the past 10 campaigns and nine of those triumphs arrived by one of those three correct scores.
If the Old Lady are surging towards another Scudetto, the Nerazzurri are beginning to be found out. Roberto Mancini’s men have secured a solitary success in five Serie A matches and just two triumphs in six across all competitions (W2-D2-L2).
The early pace-setters slid from top spot to fourth and although they’ve W7-D3-L1 in 11 away trips this term, they’ve only played one team who are currently in the top-seven of Serie A on their travels and that ended in defeat at Napoli.
On Sunday, the Nerazzurri had their stomachs turned when conceding a late leveller to struggling 10-man Carpi from Kevin Lasagna and it pushed Mancini into a rage, saying:
“A team like Inter needs to score more than once. One goal is not enough and we probably need to go into the market now and buy an attacker. There are some goals that even I could score at 50-years-old!”
It’s an exaggeration to say the wheels have fallen off because I’m not too sure all four were on in the first place. Inter have been relying on the brilliance of Samir Handanovic all too often and have failed to completely convince as major Scudetto contenders for the most part.
Incredibly, the guests’ goalkeeper is stopping 84% of all shots-on-target that Inter have faced whilst the visitors have barely enjoyed more than 50% of the total shots-on-target and/or shots across their league matches thus far –by comparison, eight clubs are performing stronger in the attacking stakes.
Since November, Inter have been to Torino, Napoli, Udinese, Empoli and Atalanta in league football and been out-shot in all five fixtures (85-58 in total) and not enjoyed more on-target efforts than their hosts in any game – 28-16 in total.
Juventus’ 69% share of total shots-on-target is second only to Napoli and, even if Allegri does tinker with his starting XI, he’s already suggested this match has serious significance, so don’t expect the hosts to take it lightly.
All things considered, I expect a Juventus victory but it’s difficult to see them taking Inter apart. The Nerazzurri have lost 16 of their previous 28 trips to top-six finishers since 2010 but only four of those defeats were by more than a two-goal margin so our correct score grouping should do the trick.
Juventus v Inter Milan – Juventus to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 (6/4 SkyBet)
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