“I would absolutely not be content with a point at the Juventus Stadium. We go there to play it without fear, as that must be the mentality of a sportsman.” Those were the words of Inter captain Mauro Icardi in response to a question about the Nerazzurri’s plan of attack ahead of Friday night’s crucial Derby d’Italia against the Bianconeri.
Indeed, it was refreshing to hear the Beneamata’s on-pitch leader make such a clear statement of intent in anticipation of what will be his side’s toughest test of their season so far. Given the fact that there is already an 11-point gap between the two teams in the league table, Inter have no option but to claim all three points or they can consider their chances of clinching the Scudetto to be over.
Furthermore, during an interview with Sportmediaset, Stefan de Vrij also had some words of encouragement for the Nerazzurri fans who will be travelling to Turin later this week: “How will we stop Juventus? Defensive concepts are always the same, we’ll go to play. Juve are a very strong team who have already proved that strength in the league. It’ll be an intense match and a great challenge.”
On the other side of the coin, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri is only too well aware of how difficult a challenge lies ahead for his players. Here is what he had to say when questioned about Friday’s match after being crowned coach of the year at the Gazzetta Sports Awards: “It’s a difficult match, a fascinating and wonderful one against a great side with a lot of technical quality. We’ll have to ensure we are ready, but the team is in good shape and we arrive in the best possible condition.
“It’s a big game because we are in a strong position at the top of the table, Inter are third and doing very well. It’s the game of the year because it’s the Derby d’Italia and that’s always one of the toughest there is, five out of five on the difficulty scale, but then we need to get to May and win the Scudetto. Mauro Icardi is a great centre-forward and a difficult one to face, but I am more than happy with my Juventus forward players.”
Considering the calibre of opposition they will face, it does of course remain to be seen whether Inter can stay true to their word and find a way in which to take the game to Juventus. Very few manage to do so, which is why Luciano Spalletti must come up with a masterplan that will keep his team in the race to secure their first Scudetto since 2010. While it is refreshing to hear the likes of Icardi and de Vrij speak so openly about the Nerazzurri’s attacking intent, actions do always speak louder than words. They do, therefore, have a lot to live up to once the game kicks off 48 hours from now.
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