Juventus have every reason to be excited as the hard-fought 2-1 win over Inter sent them one point clear at the top of the Serie A. It’s been a season where Inter have been greatly hailed as the side capable of ending the Serie A champions’ monopoly of the Scudetto for the past eight seasons. The Bianconeri have now put a stop to all that hype and handed Inter their first league defeat of the season. While the familiar sight of Juventus topping the league is something we’re all used too, it’s a different context this time and it would be premature to write Inter off just yet after their two successive defeats (Barcelona and Juventus) on the bounce.
At least an important figure in the Juventus camp thinks so as well. Head coach Maurizio Sarri played down the importance of Juventus replacing Inter Milan at the top of Serie A after beating them 2-1 at San Siro on Sunday.
Gonzalo Higuain came off the bench to score the winner in an intense Derby d’Italia clash as former Juve boss Antonio Conte suffered a first league defeat in charge of Inter.
Sarri told the club’s official website:
“Overtaking (Inter) at this time has little meaning. What matters is the performance and character shown against a strong team, which had always won up to this moment.
“We entered the game with a good approach, and we deserved to win.”
Paulo Dybala’s opener was cancelled out by a Lautaro Martinez penalty before Higuain’s late decider.
Sarri acknowledged the defending champions need to work on dominating possession more following the narrow win.
He added: “From this point of view, we have already taken important steps.
“What we need to work on is dominating the match, having territorial supremacy, pressing better and more, taking away any attacking initiative from the opposition so that we can spend our whole time in the opposition half.”
Sarri is perhaps right to take a tentative approach to the title race instead of getting carried away with his team’s new position in first, especially considering the lead still stands at a very fragile one point.
Also the manner in which Juventus had to scrap out the win suggested Inter will still be a thorn in their part later on in the season. Antonio Conte did say to Sky Italia that the injury to Sensei affected Inter’s gameplay and who knows what might have been the outcome of the derby had the in-form midfielder remained on the pitch the whole 90 minutes.
One thing that was clear in the match was the fact that both teams looked evenly matched and as predicted, they are looking like each other’s only hindrance as it stands.
However, Juventus should be careful as the lead still reads one point as earlier suggested. The Bianconeri might currently have the first advantage over Inter in terms of head-to-head points but with Inter boasting a +10 goal difference (three more than that of Juventus), a result as bad as a draw will see Inter reclaim their top spot once again. And the best is never realized when players play with fear or naiveness.
Even an unmentioned Atlanta sit only three points behind Juventus in third place and like Inter, they have a better goal difference than Juventus as well (Skysports). All indicating that a lot can change in a flash if Juventus go on to let overconfidence get the better of them.
At this stage, it would be best if Sarri and his side are more focused on racking up as many points as they can without putting too much importance on their league position just yet. Inter side look resilient and it’s certain they will give Juve a tough run for the Scudetto this season.
31 more games to go and 93 potential points to be earned, It’s still too early to conclude anything concrete about any side’s chances. Although Inter’s defeat now leaves Juve in the prestigious category of being the only side in Europe’s top five leagues yet to lose a game (in all competitions) this season. Which is something they can be proud of going into the international break.