In Udine the homeside's pace was the winning-key, whereas in Turin it was Juventus' ability to keep short distance between defence and midfield. Udinese played with a 3-5-2 formation, which was too quick, offensive and mobile to allow Thiago Motta and Stankovic to dictate tempo and passing. On Sunday night game Juventus used a very square 4-4-2 and couldn't imitate completely Udinese's tactic as Delneri' squad is much more physical and prone to a muscular game.
Juventus tried to achieve Udinese's goal [forcing Inter playmakers towards not threatening passes] in a more defensive way - giving Inter no room between Juventus' back-four line and the quartet in midfield. Krasic, Aquilani, Melo and Marchisio, assembled a very close package, whose first worry was not to allow any fastbreaks or open play. Juventus' only attacking schemes were long balls to Toni or Matri or crosses from the right - all very plain, very academic, no genius whatsoever, but also very effective.
Despite looking better equipped with skills and quality, Inter's determination to set the game pace was frustrated by Juventus tight 4-4-2. Thiago Motta's attempts to open Juventus wall with horizontal passing didn't mix well with Sneijder's lack of patience. The Dutch looked very sharp and determined but his desire to urge more movement from his team mates forced him to keep the ball longer and miss more passes than usual. The chemistry between Inter's two playmakers this time didn't work very well and frustration could be seen in Maicon, Pazzini and Eto'o faces. The usual offensive weapons were totally inoffensive, led to get balls in nowhere lands.
When you don't find space, the risk is that you end giving lot of space. That's exactly what Inter did to allow Juventus' goal. The homeside scored the only goal of the game with a winning header from Matri, left alone in the very middle of the penalty box. The former Cagliari forward could have scored two more - another header and a volley just wide. Very bad defending by Cordoba and Ranocchia on both headers.
Juventus were the lesser team but the more comfortable with his game plan - very demanding by a physical point of view but also very clear to assimilate and applicate. A kind of replica of what Inter did last season against Barcelona or, just to change sport, of what Nadal usually does to defeat Federer - sending all balls towards the Swiss backhand. A clear game plan mitigates the gulf in talent and can rewrite the script.
So Juventus won. They deserved to win. Inter could have scored the equaliser at the minute 89 when Eto'o missed a sitter hitting the bar. But seven or eight points from the top is not a huge difference. In perspective this defeat can be more helpful than that missed point, as it will force Leonardo and his guys to fix few things before playing against Bayern Munich in two weeks time. Despite being only third in the Bundesliga, Bayern look stronger and play better than the very-limited-but-very-lucky outfit which reached the UEFA Champions League final last season. Losing against Juventus was very well-timed indeed - we're going to see a more balanced Inter from now on.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Javier Zanetti. The way he managed to keep at bay Krasic for nearly the whole game sets another example of his footballing intelligence and ability to handle any type of opponent even at 37.
Serie A 2010-11 / Day 25
JUVENTUS: Buffon; Sorensen, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Krasic, Aquilani, Felipe Melo (73' Sissoko), Marchisio (71' Pepe); Toni (65' Iaquinta), Matri. Coach: Delneri
INTER: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Ranocchia, Cordoba, Zanetti; Kharja (59' Pandev), Thiago Motta, Cambiasso (72' Nagatomo); Sneijder; Pazzini, Eto’o. Coach: Leonardo
Goal: Matri 30'
Yellow cards: Sissoko; Thiago Motta, Maicon
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