Inter were under no illusions about Wednesday’s trip to Turin. “Juventus have recovered so many points in recent weeks and they’re definitely in great form,” Coach Roberto Mancini warned. “We’ll need to put the hard work in and fight.”
The tactician was eyeing a positive result in the first leg of the Coppa Italia Semi-final, although the Nerazzurri faced a side which had won all five matches in 2016, scoring 11 times and conceding once. This was in comparison to Inter’s New Year form, just two wins in five. Their Scudetto aspirations have taken a hit and thanks to Alvaro Morata, so too have their Coppa Italia hopes.
The Spaniard returned to scoring form in the first leg. He converted a first half penalty after Juan Cuadrado was felled and then smashed home his second past the hour mark. Paulo Dybala gave Juve a seemingly insurmountable lead with a late third.
Inter will have to score at least three times in the return to have any hope of advancing. But that’s been the issue this season. They have netted multiple goals only five times this term. To make matters worse, Mancini will go into the second leg without Murillo and Joao Miranda, his first-choice central defensive pairing. Both are suspended. Meanwhile, Andrea Ranocchia is set to join Sampdoria. So when it comes around there will be headaches.
They are hoping for a Derby della Madonnina in the Final, a first since 1976-77. Milan are on their way to Rome after defeating Lega Pro side Alessandria in the first leg of their Semi-final on Tuesday.
But before thinking of a Coppa Derby, the Milanese giants clash this Sunday in what is a pivotal Serie A encounter. You must go back to January 6 for Inter’s last League win, a run which has seen them slip to fourth, six points behind leaders Napoli. At one stage they looked likely Winter Champions. Danilo D’Ambrosio is looking forward to a shot at redemption. “The Derby is a chance for us to get going again but there’s nothing wrong with this squad. We’re humble and compact and we just need a couple of results to go for us.”
It’s important for Milan too. Sitting only two points outside the European places, Sinisa Mihajlovic’s team must build on their Coppa success. They’ll also be out for revenge, after falling in the first Derby.
With both sides back amongst Scudetto and European contention, this is poised to be one of the most intriguing showdowns in years. Inter must pick themselves up from what has so far been a disappointing 2016. If not, the early season promise may not be fulfilled.