Juventus create ‘beautiful symphony’ as talent gap tells against Inter

first_imgShare via Email Juventus return to the top after Gonzalo Higuaín seals win over Inter Show After four-and-a-half months, the wait was finally over. From the moment Antonio Conte agreed to replace Luciano Spalletti at Inter, anticipation had been building for his first encounter with Juventus: the club with which he made his name as both a player and manager. The club he restored to glory after taking charge there in 2011. The club that has dominated Italian football ever since.Inter approached Conte this spring in the hope he could help them to tear down the juggernaut he built. After consecutive Champions League qualifications under Spalletti, it was time to take another step forward, to compete for the title instead of just a place in the top four.Conte could hardly have started any better. Inter won their first six games of the new Serie A season, breaking Juventus’s run of 552 consecutive days atop the division. They arrived for Sunday’s Derby d’Italia with a two-point advantage over the Bianconeri. 1Juventus7719 Instead, Juventus struck first: Paulo Dybala surprising Stefan De Vrij and Samir Handanovic with his short backlift in the fourth minute. It was just one of a number of ways in which Juventus caught their opponents cold. Dybala’s presence up front was a surprise in itself, as was that of Federico Bernardeschi in the No 10 role. The expectation had been that Gonzalo Higuaín would start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, with Aaron Ramsey playing behind them.Yet Sarri, decried for being too rigid in his team selections at Napoli and Chelsea, has shown in these first few weeks of the season that an old dog can learn new tricks. He abandoned his hallmark 4-3-3 in favour of a 4-3-1-2 to accommodate Ramsey, and now seems to be pressing ahead with the new formation even when the Welshman is absent.Juventus attacked Inter with long, direct passes during Sunday’s opening exchanges – another surprise, given Sarri’s usual preference for quick interchanges. Miralem Pjanic set up Dybala’s goal with a ball over the top from his own half. Moments after the restart, Matthijs De Ligt launched a clearance to Ronaldo from the edge of the Juventus box. The Portuguese cut inside and hit the bar. Milan players at the end of their win over Genoa. Photograph: Paolo Rattini/Getty Images Sportblog European club football A 2-1 final scoreline was a fair reflection of the game, and perhaps of the talent gap that still exists between the champions and their aspiring challengers. Conte lamented afterwards that Sarri could have put a hand over his eyes while picking his substitutes and still been guaranteed a good return. His own team, he insisted, were still a work in progress. What was striking, however, was how both teams already seemed to reflect their new managers’ personalities. Conte’s Inter battled furiously even when being outplayed, and had chances to add to their goal. Sarri’s Juventus eased off the long balls after that initial barrage, and started to construct the familiar little triangles. Higuaín’s goal arrived at the end of a sequence of 24 passes.“Quality players can produce a beautiful symphony,” said Sarri at full-time, and he certainly has an abundance of those. Some were supposed to depart during the transfer window, and it was tempting to wonder how differently this game might have looked if Higuaín had been sold or Dybala swapped with Romelu Lukaku.Juventus’s failure to sell may yet have negative consequences. Certainly, it will be hard work to balance the books. The manager’s job, however, is simply to use the tools at his disposal. Sarri did that to great effect. “At times,” he reflected afterwards, “I even enjoyed myself.” Was this helpful? Twitter Share on LinkedIn Serie A Share on WhatsApp For a moment it looked as though Inter might be swept away. Instead they drew level, Lautaro Martínez converting from the penalty spot after a De Ligt handball. The score was 1-1 at half-time. Inter, though, had suffered a major blow, Stefano Sensi exiting with a thigh injury. Signed from Sassuolo in the summer, the midfielder has been the standout performer through this first part of the season: a 5ft 6in dynamo who can do everything: from shielding the defence and sitting in as a regista to breaking the lines and scoring critical goals.His replacement, Matías Vecino, could not offer the same energy, and was sloppy in possession besides. A further setback arrived after the interval, when Diego Godín exited with a knee complaint. Conte sent on Alessandro Bastoni, a 20-year-old who made his debut last month. The latter was at fault for Juventus’s winning goal, ball-watching as Rodrigo Bentancur slid a pass behind him to Higuaín, who buried his finish from close range. Those two players had come off the bench for Juventus: a vivid reminder of the contrasting depth of the teams’ squads. Genoa 1-2 Milan, Verona 2-0 Sampdoria, Spal 1-0 Parma, Internazionale 1-2 Juventus, Torino 0-0 Napoli, Roma 1-1 Cagliari, Bologna 2-2 Lazio, Atalanta 3-1 Lecce, Fiorentina 1-0 Udinese • Ugly stuff at the end of Roma’s draw at home to Cagliari. The Giallorossi thought they had grabbed a late winner through Nikola Kalinic, but the goal was disallowed for a push by the striker on Fabio Pisacane. Roma protested furiously as the defender lay prostate on the floor, having collided as a result with goalkeeper Robin Olsen. Pisacane subsequently left the pitch in a neck brace. Reuse this content 2Inter Milan71018 Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV)⚽ It finishes 1-1 between Roma and Cagliari❌ The Giallorossi thought they’d won it late, but Kalinic’s goal was disallowed for a push on Pisacane🙏 The Cagliari defender was later carted off in a neck brace pic.twitter.com/JR2or8CPmBOctober 6, 2019 15Sassuolo6-16 10Verona719 Hide 7Cagliari7311 Talking points• Napoli missed their chance to close the gap to Inter, drawing 0-0 at Torino. And they owed a good chunk of the point to the goalkeeping of Alex Meret.• Marco Giampaolo’s tenure as Milan manager is already at an end, a scruffy 2-1 win over Genoa – both teams ended with nine men – insufficient to persuade the club’s directors that he deserved more time. This season has been a mess, and Giampaolo certainly did not seem to have matters in hand when he changed his formation, suggesting it was fundamentally not a good one for Krzysztof Piatek, after a single game (if true, how was that not picked up in pre-season?) But Milan have now been through seven managers in the past six seasons. The problems start higher up. 9Torino7010 PosTeamPGDPts 6Lazio7711 Pinterest Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV)⚽ HIGUAIN PUTS JUVE BACK IN FRONT!⚫⚪ Great build-up play from the Bianconeri and the substitute puts Sarri’s team 2-1 up! pic.twitter.com/BFLMCrsCrwOctober 6, 2019 Facebook 19Genoa7-75 8Fiorentina7211 Share on Pinterest Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. 12Parma7-29 Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV)💥 WHAT A FINISH FROM DYBALA!⚫⚪ Juve strike first at the Giuseppe Meazza! pic.twitter.com/q4zCuNvmCxOctober 6, 2019 13AC Milan7-39 Read more Maurizio Sarri wanted us to believe that such details did not matter. The Juventus manager was still getting settled himself, after replacing Massimiliano Allegri in the summer. Asked how damaging it would be to fall further behind Inter so early in the season, he replied: “A number close to zero.”The contrast between the two managers’ demeanour was striking. Where Sarri sought to defuse tension, Conte appeared at risk of being consumed by it. He ended his pre-match press conference with a threat to quit football altogether, after losing patience with questions about a group of Juventus fans – not truly fans, but “ignorants”, in Conte’s view – who have campaigned to remove his star from the Walk of Fame outside Allianz Stadium. “I would not be a great loss for football,” Conte said, “But football will not be a great loss for me, either.”It would certainly be a blow to Inter, thriving so far under his leadership. Even their midweek defeat by Barcelona offered grounds for encouragement, the Nerazzurri taking an early lead and threatening to build on it before eventually getting pegged back at the Camp Nou. They were unable to repeat that fast start, however, in front of a sold-out San Siro on Sunday. 14Udinese7-37 Quick guide Serie A results 16Brescia6-26 3Atalanta7816 18Lecce7-86 Share on Facebook Maurizio Sarri and Antonio Conte. Photograph: Matteo Bazzi/EPA Twitter Thank you for your feedback. 17SPAL7-76 20Sampdoria7-123 features Topics 11Bologna709 5Roma7212 Share on Messenger 4Napoli7513 Share on Twitter Pinterest Facebook last_img