Serie A Preview and Pick: Inter Milan vs. Juventus

Breakdown and Best Bet for Inter Milan-Juventus

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One of the fiercest rivalries in Serie A takes center stage this week as Juventus plays host to Inter Milan. Dubbed Derby d’Italia, this meeting between the two Northern Italy giants will take on extra meaning after Inter Milan clinched the Serie A title last weekend, snapping Juve’s run of nine straight domestic championships. At home, Juventus is considered the favorite with a moneyline of +123 compared to Inter’s price of +207. There is also a moneyline of +270 for a draw.

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Juventus Preview

Outside of this being a rivalry game, Juventus needs to win this game to help qualify for next season’s Champions League. Andrea Pirlo’s squad lost 3-0 at home to AC Milan last weekend. Despite a 3-1 midweek win over Sassuolo, the Black and Whites are fifth in the Serie A table, one point behind Napoli for the final Champions League spot. Juventus will likely need to win their two remaining games and hope that Napoli drops points; otherwise, they won’t be playing Champions League football in the fall.

Of course, the loss to AC Milan wasn’t Juve’s only poor result in recent weeks. The Italian giants have two losses and a draw in their last six matches, dropping points that have put them in this predicament. While they have nine goals during that stretch, Juve has also been shut out twice in those six matches. Adrien Rabiot and Paulo Dybala both got on the scoresheet against Sassuolo, but it’s been far too common in recent weeks for the Black and Whites to struggle to score goals if it’s not Cristiano Ronaldo providing them. Then again, he is the leading scorer in Serie A with 27 goals.

At the same time, one can’t help but be a little concerned with Juve’s defensive record despite conceding the second-fewest goals in Serie A this season. It’s now been 13 matches across all competitions since the last time Pirlo’s squad kept a clean sheet. The three goals they gave up last weekend against AC Milan are undoubtedly concerning ahead of this week’s matchup against the powerhouse tandem of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.

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Inter Milan Preview

For Inter Milan, the job is done. With an emphatic 5-1 win over Sampdoria last weekend, Antonio Conte’s squad clinched the Serie A title. Of course, there was no letdown from the newly-crowned champions on Wednesday when they knocked off Roma 3-1. Inter Milan has now won four straight matches and gone 17 straight matches without suffering a loss. Fittingly, that loss came in early February against Juventus in the Coppa Italia.

As mentioned, the tandem of Lukaku and Martinez has done the heavy lifting for Inter’s attack this season. The duo has combined for 38 of Inter’s 82 goals in Serie A this season. But the team’s offensive prowess doesn’t stop there. Alexis Sanchez scored twice in the clincher last weekend to give him seven goals in 28 matches this season. Achraf Hakimi has also chipped in seven goals and seven assists for the Black and Blues, so there is no shortage of options in the Inter attack.

Of course, Conte’s team has won primarily with defense this season, conceding a league-low 31 goals in 36 matches. That’s nine fewer goals allowed than the second-best defensive team in Serie A. Naturally, Inter Milan has kept a shutout in two of its last four matches. Inter’s February loss to Juventus is also the last time that a team scored more than one goal against Conte’s backline. Those are also the only two goals Juventus has scored against Inter Milan in three head-to-head matches this season.

The Pick

Team selection could be critical in this game. Outside of this being a rivalry game, Inter Milan has nothing on the line, so Conte could rotate his squad if he wants. Meanwhile, Juventus is likely to play its best lineup in a must-win match. However, a Wednesday to Saturday turnaround could force Pirlo to make some changes, as does the fact that Juve will play in the Coppa Italia final next Tuesday. 

All of those factors could make it difficult for Pirlo to play his best squad. On top of that, Juventus will surely be feeling the pressure while Inter Milan can play free and perhaps be motivated by trying to keep Juve out of Champions League next season. Ultimately, the Juventus defense has too many concerns while the Inter attack has too many difference-makers for the Black and Whites to get the result they need.

Pick: Inter Milan 2-1

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