Just over a week after Juventus took Napoli’s unbeaten run away from them at Stadio San Paolo, the Bianconeri now tackle Serie A leaders Inter Milan on Saturday evening in another mouth-watering affair at Juventus Stadium in Turin.
Juve dug in to produce a performance of champions from the six-time consecutive Scudetto holders, as Napoli froze in the headlights last time out.
Still a point behind the Naples side, the Old Lady look to prise another unsullied record from an unbeaten Inter side now top of the pile, after the Nerazurri’s 5-0 hammering of Chievo last weekend at the San Siro.
Ivan Perisic claimed his first hat-trick for the league leaders on Sunday, and approaching this weekend’s trip to southern Italy, Luciano Spalletti’s men have won three on the bounce.
For the duo’s most memorable encounter, we go back to 2004 an a five-goal thriller at the Giuseppe Meazza, where Inter held off a late fightback from the visitors to run out 3-2 winners.
Obafemi Martins had given the hosts the lead in the sixth minute, but after Kily Gonzalez’s own goal mid-way through the opening period, early optimism was diffused in Milan. That was before Christian Vieri’s penalty kick on the strike of half-time, as Inter went into the break 2-1 to the good.
When Dejan Stankovic netted two minutes after resumption, Alberto Zaccheroni looked to have the better of opposite number Marcello Lippi. After substitute Marco Di Vaio scored in the final minute of normal time however, the San Siro held its’ collective breath.
In the face of a late barrage of pressure from Juve, the hosts held on. Bianconeri went on to win the league crown, but were then stripped at the end of the season after the now infamous Calciopoli match fixing scandal which saw the Turin side relegated to Serie B.
Gonzalo Higuain vs. Milan Skriniar
After Higuain returned to the starting XI after injury, his goal against former employers Napoli saw Juve close the gap to just a point on the Naples side, with just two points separating the top three in Serie A.
The Argentine will need to be in similarly clinical form this weekend as he matched up against an Inter defence that have conceded just twice in their last four games.
Whilst Miranda continues as the visitors number one choice in the defence, the Brazilian has built a successful partnership with summer signing Milan Skriniar in the back line.
As the Slovakian centre-back keeps Andrea Ranocchia off of Spalletti’s regular team-sheet, the two have combined well in their early months together.
Skriniar restricted Napoli’s front three to just scraps when Inter traveled to Naples in October, but a test against Higuain and Juventus in Turin stands as a perhaps a bigger test for the former Sampdoria 22-year-old defender.
Giorgio Chiellini is again a doubt for the visit of Inter, this time with a stomach injury. The Italian international will be assessed late on but with Benedikt Howedes out until the new year with a thigh injury, Chiellini’s fitness will be key this weekend.
Stephan Lichtsteiner missed the trip to Naples last weekend and is again a doubt with a thigh problem. Should the Swiss miss out, Allegri could again stick with both Mattia Di Sciglio and Kwadwo Asamoah at full-back.
With a clean bill of health for his side, Spalletti’s main consideration lies with who to play as number ten and whether to name Davide Santon for the fourth game running at left-back or revert to Yuto Nagatomo.
Marcelo Brozovic played behind Mauro Icardi against Chievo and could keep his place after an impressive showing, which would see Borja Valero play deeper in midfield.
Potential Juventus Starting Lineup: Buffon; Di Sciglio, Benatia, Chiellini, Asamoah; Costa, Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Dybala, Higuain
Potential Inter Milan Starting Lineup: Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Miranda, Santon; Mario, Valero; Candreva, Brozovic, Perisic; Icardi
Like last weekend’s top-of-the-table clash, this is likely again to be a tight affair. Perisic will be on a high after his treble last Sunday and indeed scored against Juve last season.
Inter have not win in Turin since 2013, but after their Spalletti-inspired resurgence this term the Nerazurri will feel like they can put that right this Saturday.
Juventus are hitting their straps ahead of the turn of the year and provided they can call upon their regular starters in Chiellini et al, will be equally confident of a result this weekend.
It is hard to see the game being as strangled in the midfield as last week’s clash was, but a single goal between the two could again be the final result.
Juventus are again approaching their championship best in recent weeks, and with the Old Lady faithful behind them in their Turin home, should just have enough to win. Depending on whether city neighbours Torino can hold Napoli also earlier in the day, the hosts could be top of Serie A come Saturday night.
Prediction: Juventus 2-1 Inter Milan