What we Learned from Inter 1-2 Juventus
It initially felt like deja vu all over again. Once more, another slow start and 1-0 down early at Inter. This time however, Juve responded and turned things around from what had been a dismal showing in Milan a few days earlier. The team turned disadvantage into motivation and their first half performance certainly demonstrated this. Two goals in the first half to turn things around certainly had us thinking there would be more, but an away win is pretty good at your hated rivals. While the game seemed to be in Juve's control for a large part of it, there was a part of the game, especially from half until around the 70th, where Juve pulled some sensational stops to keep the lead intact. This only grew Inter's frustration leading to a period at the end of the game in which Inter lashed out at the Juve players with desperate fouls, Juve sealing a 2-1 victory.
Demiral's performance was a true roller coaster, he was the villain one instance and then he saved the lead in the next. The start for him was a disaster, with him, De Ligt and Sandro all caught ball watching as Lautaro snuck up behind them to get a shot that barely inched past Buffon. While still 1-0, Demiral had another moment of madness as he made a dangerous tackle on Sanchez that could have been much more. A yellow early on nevertheless and a compromising position to be in with your center back booked early. All of this in contrast to his second half performance in which he held Inter's forwards in his back pocket. Should Juve hopefully progress, his goal line clearance will be a a big reason why. When Buffon came out to attempt the save, everyone pretty much saw Sanchez scoring, yet somehow Demiral completed an extraordinary clearance off the line with his body off balance and the ball very close to entering.
With regards to the penalty, yes it was a penalty Cuadrado got dragged down. This is something that Cuadrado could use to exploit in the future. Cuadrado demonstrated great pace up and down the flanks in this game and on the play of the penalty he was simply too fast for Ashley Young. In the second half when Danilo came on, Cuadrado continued to push great runs into the final third overlapping beautifully with Danilo, one covering the other as they ventured forward.
Cristiano did what was asked of him, two goals away at Inter? anyone would have taken this type of performance before the game. He linked up with with Berna and Kulusevski(Even though he had a quiet game). Cristiano did well to place a powerful penalty down the middle and caused chaos in Inter's defensive half to put away the second goal. While he looked visibly disappointed to be taken off a bit early, as Pirlo said, it will serve him well in the long run with a congested intense schedule upcoming.
Buffon had a mixed bag tonight. He gave us vintage Buffon with a spectacular save on Darmian from close range, but he also should have saved Lautaro's goal. Also, what became increasingly worrisome as the game ventured on was his passing in playing out from the back, this is not entirely his fault as Demiral and De Ligt were partially to blame for this. However, Inter did manage the high press to the point of causing lots of inaccurate passing off goal kicks and passes in our defensive third. One moment I vividly remember was Cristiano yelling from the bench at Buffon that he needed to kick the ball deep off a goal kick rather than playing it short, even he was nervous.
Inter definitely missed Lukaku and Hakimi, two of their best players from the last time they played Juve. While Conte and Inter fans will probably say this is why they lost, in general it was simply because Juve took advantage of Inter's mistakes. The approach to the second leg must change though, Lukaku and Hakimi will provide a totally different challenge to what we witnessed this first leg.