In­ter hopes of up­set­ting Juve slim

Spal­letti takes on Allegri in derby

Sowetan - - Dipapadi -

Mi­lan – The odds ap­pear to be stacked against In­ter Mi­lan for to­day’s Derby d’Italia at Ju­ven­tus with the hosts on a seem­ingly relentless march to­wards an eighth suc­ces­sive Serie A ti­tle.

Ju­ven­tus have opened an eight-point lead at the top and dropped only two points in their first 14 games. Bol­stered by the sign­ing of Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, their progress has been relentless and the sec­ond half of the sea­son threat­ens to turn into a one-horse race.

In­ter were seen as pos­si­ble chal­lengers to Juve’s dom­i­nance at the start of the sea­son but, de­spite win­ning seven games in a row at one point, they have paid dearly for their in­con­sis­tency and are 11 points be­hind in third. Even at this stage of the sea­son, it seems their only hope is to give a help­ing hand to sec­ond-placed Napoli by tak­ing points off Juve.

In­ter’s re­cent record in the fix­ture is equally de­mor­al­is­ing, with only two wins in the 16 league meet­ings since win­ning their last Serie A ti­tle in 2010 un­der Jose Mour­inho.

In­ter are still smart­ing from their last meet­ing in April when they led 2-1 at San Siro with five min­utes left, only to lose 3-2. That win prac­ti­cally sealed last sea­son’s ti­tle for Ju­ven­tus.

But in the pre­vi­ous match, In­ter coach Lu­ciano Spal­letti could claim a moral vic­tory as he out­smarted ri­val Mas­si­m­il­iano Allegri in a 0-0 draw at the Ju­ven­tus sta­dium.

The du­els be­tween the pair are in­vari­ably close and fas­ci­nat­ing and their nine pre­vi­ous meet­ings on the touch­line have pro­duced four wins for Allegri, three for Spal­letti and two draws.

When they first crossed paths in 2008, Allegri was still an in­ex­pe­ri­enced coach with Cagliari and Spal­letti had al­ready es­tab­lished him­self at Roma. They met again in 2012 in the Cham­pi­ons League when Allegri was in charge of AC Mi­lan and Spal­letti was at Zenit St Peters­burg.

There have been five more meet­ings since 2016, three of those with Spal­letti at AS Roma, plus the two last sea­son fol­low­ing his move to In­ter.

There is a mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion be­tween the pair with Spal­letti ad­mit­ting that he voted for Allegri for the re­cent Ital­ian coach of the year award, which Allegri won.

“I voted for him be­cause he is a great coach. It is dif­fi­cult to find some­one who stays on the same bench for so many years and wins ev­ery­thing he has won,” said Spal­letti. –

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