In what is up until this point of the season, the most anticipated game, league leaders Juventus host their most formidable title challengers on Sunday in Turin.
Maurizio Sarri charges have been unconvincing in their recent outings leading to calls by a section of the fans for the coach to be sacked. They barely beat bottom side Spal 2-1 in their last league game with goals from Aaron Ramsey and Cristiano Ronaldo.
They came undone in their midweek Champions League round of 16 first leg trip to France, failing to register a single shot on target in a Champions League game for the first time since 2014 as Lucas Tousart’s first half lone goal was enough to see a determined and disciplined Lyon team stun one of this season’s favorite for the Champions League crown.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been in fine form for the Bianconeri. Prior to the Lyon game, he had scored in 11 Serie A games in a row. He will want to look past that disappointing Lyon game as Juventus set out to deal a decisive blow to Inter’s title aspirations while sending a warning to the rest of the league of their intentions to hold onto the Scudetto with at all costs.
Juventus fans are thrilled with the return of captain and leader Giorgio Chiellini from a cruciate knee injury. He has gotten enough minutes under his legs following that long layoff to warrant a return to the starting lineup. They will need his experience and tenacity against the in-form Inter striker Romelu Lukaku.
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey has impressed in recent games and could also make a start. Merih Demiral and Diego Costa are both still sidelined with injury.
The Nerazzurri are putting up a brilliant campaign thus far and have emerged as one of the main contenders for the Scudetto this term. They lie third on the log, just six points adrift of league leaders Juve.
Antonio Conte has had a Midas touch, bringing in players that had fallen out of favor with their clubs and giving them a new lease of life. Lukaku, Ashley Young and Sanchez were largely considered flops at Manchester United but they are now key cogs to Conte’s title contending team. They also signed Christian Eriksen from Tottenham and after starting slowly he has picked up the pace and is likely to flourish behind Inter’s lethal striking duo of Romelu Lukaku and Lautano Martinez.
They are doing pretty well in Europe. They did not have any hiccups in midweek as they beat Bulgarian Ludogorets 2-1 at home to proceed to the Europa League’s round of 16 on a 4-1 aggregate win.
Much of their success this season has been down to leading striker, Belgian international Romelu Lukaku’s goal scoring prowess. If Inter are to continue challenging for the Scudetto, they will need him to be at his scintillating best against Juventus on Sunday. He has scored 17 times in 23 games, proving to be the difference maker many times with winning goals against Bologna, Napoli, Udinese and many others. He has proven without a doubt that he is still one of the best strikers in the game today.
On the injury front, Conte does not have a lot to deal with. Samir Handanovic is set to undergo a late fitness test. Danielle Padelli is fit and ready to chip in for him should he fail to make the cut in time for the game.
This game is likely to be a closely fought and tight affair. Juventus are smarting following their disappointing loss to Lyon in midweek. They will look to set the tone and tempo of the game early.
Inter Milan were also disappointed with themselves in their loss to fellow challengers Lazio. They are itching to throw down the gauntlet to the reigning champs to show them that they are coming for what they have.
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