Key Players: The Derby d'Italia
Fresh from a strong start to the New Year, Pirlo and his boys will be looking to secure another victory in their clash against Inter in order to boost their title hopes. Let's look at the players who will play an important role in influencing the match in Juventus' favour.
1. Federico Chiesa:
Alongside Weston McKennie and Morata, the former Fiorentina star is in contention to be named the best signing of the summer window. His pace, finishing and off-the ball movement have been impressive ever-since his arrival from Florence. On Sunday, Chiesa is once again anticipated to create problems for Inter's backline - which is expected to consist of a 5 man defence (when not in possession). Whoever starts between Darmian and Young will undoubtably have a long night keeping tabs on the speedy Italian. This in turn could minimize the attacking potency of Conte's men, as breaking forward with supporting wing-backs may not be all-positive as it was in past matches, given the strength of Chiesa.
2. Weston McKennie:
All of Juve's greatest games under Pirlo had something in common: McKennie was among the starting midfielders. The young American, against all the odds, is flourishing in Turin. His goal instinct, penetrating runs, an his presence in the penalty area at just the right time, all contribute to the American's game. Against Inter, McKennie will once again will be vital when asked to cope with the 3-man midfield Inter is bound to field. As well as acting as a spare man in the edge of the box during the attacks, Weston will have a lot on his hands Sunday evening.
Once again, the Brazilian is certainly a key player for this important fixture. As previously mentioned , Inter will likely approach the match with a 3-5-2 formation, with Hakimi on one flank, and one of either Darmian or Young on the other. One of the weakness of a 3-5-2 formation, is the fact that it can easily be broken down if the opposition overloads on the flanks. Danilo, who has been overlapping quite a bit in his centre back role this season, is once again expected to play in this role against Inter. As a result, this will give him the opportunity to overload the wings with Chiesa. Aside from his attacking contribution, Danilo will also share the very big task of controlling in-form Belgian forward, Romelu Lukaku, while also worrying about his striking partner, Lautaro Martinez. I feel as though he is fit for the task, as it seems he will be cast alongside defensive partners Leonardo Bonucci, One of Merih Demiral or Giorgio Chiellini. Given the physicality and experience Danilo possesses, this could help make him the man who plays a part in stopping Lukaku from contributing.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo:
Even though Sarri was heavily criticized for not having a backup plan and sticking to his go-to tactics for each game, one of his tactical masterclasses as a Juve coach came last year against Inter. Keeping in mind that Inter head coach Antonio Conte will play his formation of a 3-5-2, Sarri opened the flanks with deploying a very narrow midfield and defence - which then triggered Conte to send his wingbacks down the channel. Once deploying his wingbacks, areas of the pitch opened for both Cristiano and Dybala to join the attack, and occupy the spaces they were open by the absence of the wingbacks. Again on Sunday, Cristiano' presence alone is expected to pin-back Inter's backline and hopefully be a counter to Inter's talented attacking options. Once Inter opens up and allow space for Cristiano to operate, there is an absolute certainty that he will do what he does best.