Javier Zanetti and Claudio Marchisio say there is little between Inter Milan and Juventus as the two Serie A title challengers prepare for the biggest game of the Italian season so far.
The Derby d’Italia brings together two clubs with a fierce rivalry and two sides who, unlike on the final day of last season when they were separated by eight positions, are locked together at the top of the pile.
Only two games of the season may have been played, yet Saturday’s clash is nevertheless being regarded as an important indication as to where the two clubs stand in terms of their respective title ambitions, and according to both Zanetti and Marchisio, the gulf between the two clubs last season does not count for anything.
"They’ve always caused us problems, and with [Walter] Mazzarri now in charge, they are even more dangerous," said Marchisio, who like Zanetti will miss the game due to injury. "Given the start they have made to the season, we expect to play a very healthy side.
"For us, beating Inter in our third game of the season would be a major coup. I’m just sorry I can’t be involved, but the team’s in good shape and doing well and I have faith in my team mates."
Zanetti is also confident that the new-look Inter can replicate their finest moment from last season by defeating the Bianconeri. The Nerazzurri ended Juve’s 49-game unbeaten record with victory at the Juventus Stadium last November, even if that proved to be the only highlight of a troubled year for Inter.
"You can sense in the air that this is a big game," said the Argentinean. "It’s a shame that so many of my team mates are scattered around the globe with their national teams and that I can’t make my contribution, but my team mates will take care of that. Juve are a great side and it won’t be easy, but we’ll give it a go."
Zanetti would gladly trade a win at the San Siro with a place among the leading protagonists at the business end of the season, though. "I hope that we are up there with the league leaders with a month of the season to go," he told reporters in Milan. "Then we can play for everything right to the end."