Inter Milan had won ten straight home matches heading into last night’s Derby d’Italia, with opponents Juventus, who lost 2-0 at the San Siro in April, and the mighty Barcelona among their victims during that run.
I Nerazzurri also went into Round 6 at the top of the Serie A standings, and fresh from a 4-0 thrashing of visiting Werder Bremen in the UEFA Champions League. Moreover, Samuel Eto’o was relishing his more attack-conscious role under new coach Rafa Benitez – six goals in his last nine outings were testament to this.
The consensus was that Juve would be unable prevent their hosts scoring. The result was that they did, courtesy of some wasteful finishing from Inter and some admirable last-ditch challenges from Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Paolo De Ceglie.
Ultimately a game in which both sides had multiple chances ended goalless. It was an outcome that Juventus were, given the aforementioned statistics, satisfied with.
"We did well not to give away this result,” said Alessandro Del Piero, who looked lively following his 64th-minute introduction. “We were all pleased that we got a result – it was positive.
“If we continue to play with the same determination and will that we showed this evening, we will do well. We showed that we are a solid team. We are taking steps in the right direction.”
Del Neri believes the stalemate reflected the balance of play. “I think the draw was the right result,” he said. “We had our chances to score and so did Inter. I wanted to see this character from the team.
“Clearly the results are giving us more positive energy too. We contained the attack forces of both Manchester City (Juventus drew 1-1 at Eastlands in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday) and Inter, so that’s a definite boost for our confidence. Before the back four was constantly under siege, but against the big clubs we have shown that our concentration has improved and we can hold out.”
The result dropped Inter to second in Serie A, two points shy of Lazio, while Juventus are five points off the pace in seventh. Del Neri’s side will welcome Lazio to Turin following the international break, while Benitez will take his troops to Sardinia for a meeting with Cagliari.