Soccer

Inter Milan vs. Juventus: Arturo Vidal and Nicolo Barella strike big Serie A title race blow

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Inter Milan moved level on points with bitter rivals AC Milan at the top of the Serie A table on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Juventus. Antonio Conte’s men took the lead after just 12 minutes at Giuseppe Meazza when Arturo Vidal headed home from Nicolo Barella. Barella himself scored Inter’s second seven minutes into the second half with an emphatic finish after he was teed up by Alessandro Bastoni.

The hosts are now seven points clear of Juve while Andrea Pirlo’s side have just one game in hand meaning that there will be at least a four-point difference if the Bianconeri can beat SSC Napoli in their rearranged clash.

Some takeaways from Sunday.

Brilliant Barella

The star man for Inter was Barella, who scored one and provided the other in an important win for the Nerazzurri that might have knocked Juve out of the title race. At just 23, the Italy international is an emerging star and this performance with two decisive contributions will only add to his burgeoning reputation. Barella was not alone in performing well for Inter but his overall display did merit the recognition that his goal and assist will now bring.

Pirlo pressure

Juve may well now be out of the Serie A title reckoning with a seven-point deficit to make up on league leaders AC and Inter Milan but only one game in hand. The Old Lady’s chances will be clearer once they have faced Napoli in their rearranged fixture from earlier in the season, but it already looks bleak in terms of a successful title defense. Pirlo once again failed to impose any clear tactical plan and the Turin giants paid the price with a potentially costly defeat.

Incisive Inter

While Pirlo’s Juve setup was unimpressive, Conte showed his cunning with an Inter side that was designed to prey on their vulnerable opponents. Not only did the home side take their chances when they came, they were also tight at the back to keep a first clean sheet against Juve since 2010. Vidal also rose to the occasion and came back to haunt his former employers with the opening goal as part of a throwback performance.

Milan’s moment

This result creates an opportunity for AC Milan to undo some of the damage done by Juve’s recent win at San Siro when they visit Cagliari on Monday. The leaders can re-establish a three-point lead over Inter but stretch their advantage over Pirlo’s men to 10 points — a likely unassailable gap. With AS Roma and Napoli coming up, any further dropped points could prove critical — even if the damage is probably already done.

Buried Bianconeri?

Juve continue to stumble domestically this season and it is now the first time since 2010-11 that they have fewer than 10 wins from their opening 17 matches. Their opening three Serie A results of 2021 made it look as if a corner had been turned but that has turned out to be a false dawn with this defeat. AC and Inter hold significant advantages in the title race and Napoli are ahead of them by a point with their replay to come — it might already be too late.



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