Inter show real character to stop Juve in their tracks

Posted by Mike Whittaker

Wow! What can I say? The 183rd Serie A derby d'Italia saw the end of Juventus' 49 game unbeaten run, when a determined Inter proved beyond doubt that although they are still a team in the midst of a rebuild, they have the strength of character to give the Italian champions a run for their money in this seasons Scudetto race.

In these last few weeks I've said time and again that if any team can end Juve's unbeaten run it would be Inter. How they went about this famous victory makes me so proud to be an Interista, and no one can deny that by the end of the 90 minutes Inter thoroughly deserved the full three points.

This match for me was Inter's best performance of the season and a sign that the Nerazzurri are improving game after game under the guidance of the young tactical genius Andrea Stramaccioni. He has now led his team to three fantastic victories against Inter's two biggest rivals. This latest win in his very first derby d'Italia, has proven beyond doubt that he has what it takes to not only lead Inter back to glory but also has taken a massive step towards one day being considered one of the greatest coaches in the world.

Despite my delight at Inter beating the team I consider to be the clubs nemesis, I do have one small gripe to share regarding the Nerazzurri's performance - Andrea Ranocchia. The young defender has really lived up to his hype so far this season, but against Juventus he looked more like the underachieving disappointment that we witnessed last season. Don't get me wrong he did improve slightly in the second half but in general he looked half asleep throughout the game and seemed to be relying on Walter Gargano and other players to pick up the pieces of his many mistakes. Admittedly there were rumours of an injury niggle in his leg before the game, maybe that can be held responsible, but it did nothing to convince me that he can handle the pressure of such huge matches. I just hope he can prove me wrong.

Now the match is over I cannot put into words how ecstatic I am with the result. Now just one point behind Juventus I'm really starting to believe that Scudetto 19 could be on the cards for Inter this season. My feelings at half time however were the complete opposite, with Juve going into the break a goal ahead after a half full of dubious decisions. The first of which came just 18 seconds into the game when a through ball was played to Asamoah who was at least 5 yards behind Inter's last man, he then set up Vidal on the opposite post for a simple tap-in past Handanovic. How this goal wasn't disallowed for offside I'm at a loss to explain, as is everyone who witnessed it.

The shock of the goal sent the Inter squad into disarray and I was starting to expect the Nerazzurri to fall apart and for Juventus to give them a thrashing. Credit to Inter though as they pulled themselves together and managed to start to play how they had intended from the beginning.

The controversy of the first half didn't stop with the Juventus goal, and when Palacio's headed goal from an Inter free-kick was ruled offside: I could've broke down in tears. It turns out that having your head and shoulders behind the opposition defenders is considered more offside than standing five yards behind them!

The third major incident of the first half was when Lichtsteiner was spared a second yellow card after blatantly hacking down Palacio who was on the ball. I admit his first card for a collision in the air with Cambiasso could've been considered as slightly harsh, but his infringement against Palacio was obviously intentional and in my opinion he could've thought himself lucky if he had just received a yellow and not a red. The Juventus bench must've realised how lucky they had been too as shortly after the incident Lichtsteiner found himself substituted off.

In fairness to the referee he did also make plenty of correct decisions for both sides, but after Catania's wrongly revoked goal last week against the Bianconeri, and the three major Juve biased calls in this game, it's hard not to agree with the conspiracy theorists that claim Juventus get preferential treatment from the officials.

Of course, all these concerns became a distant memory in the second half as Stramaccioni did an excellent job during the break, calming his players and reinstalling their belief that they were more than capable of securing a win against Juventus, continuing their unbeaten away form this season.

When Milito was brought down in the box, it felt like justice for the Juventus goal earlier, when 'El Principe' netted his second I went crazy and started to believe myself that we might actually be able to achieve what no other team has been able to for 18 months. Then when Palacio put away Inter's third, I felt just as proud to be an Interista as I did back on the 22nd May 2010 when Javier Zanetti lifted the Champions league trophy.

Of course I'm expecting Juventus fans around the world to come up with plenty of excuses as to why they lost to Inter, but it will never change the fact that the grit and determination shown by Stramaccioni's team has not just closed the gap on first place to an insignificant one point, but it has once again given Interisti around the world the confidence to shout from the rooftops that we ARE worthy to be called the best team in Italy!

Sempre Forza Inter!

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