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Derby D'Italia: Can Inter challenge Juventus for the Scudetto?

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On Saturday comes one of the most important games of the season for the Scudetto hopefuls - the Derby d'Italia. The Derby is historically one of the most important dates in the Italian football calendar, with the winner taking not only the bragging rights, but also an advantage in this early stage of the season.

Juventus and Inter have both had equally perfect starts to the new Serie A season, with both claiming maximum points in their opening two games. But the recent fortunes of the two clubs can hardly be more different.

Following a successful Serie A campaign last season, Juventus won their 31st Scudetto - which the club still proudly proclaims, counting the two titles taken from them following the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. The Nerrazzuri had a decent Champions League campaign as well, being knocked out in the quarter-finals by eventual winners Bayern Munich.

At the end of their title-winning season, Juventus went to work on improving the squad - addressing their major weaknesses in front of goal by recruiting the talents of Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez to compliment Mirko Vucinic.

By stark contrast, Internazionale have struggled since the unprecedented treble-winning season under Jose Mourinho in 2009/10. Their previous dominance has faded along with the abilities of their ageing defence, and the solidity and stability of those dominating years vanished.

The resulting transition period has seen them struggle around the mid-table of Serie A, blooding new players and attempting to gel together a new team. The failed reigns of Rafa Benitez, Leonardo, Claudio Ranieri and Andrea Stramaccioni have all done little to steady the ship. Current manager Walter Mazzarri has tried to address the need to start again, spending over €30m on some of the best young talent in Serie A.

While young stars Mateo Kovacic and Ricky Alvarez may not match up against the pedigree of Juventus forwards Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal, Mazzarri has reportedly restored belief in his Inter side - putting his complete trust in the squad's young players. He has been working on instilling in them a pragmatic mentality: Take your chances and avoid sloppy mistakes.

Conventional wisdom would point to a handsome Juventus victory. The firepower and organisation of Antonio Conte's side is amongst the best of those in Europe, and the young Inter side isn't ready to push them in a serious Scudetto race.

But despite Inter's recent misfortunes and Juventus' imperious form in the Italian top division, the Milan side have remained somewhat of a bogey team for the Nerazzurri - ending Juventus' record-breaking 49-game unbeaten record, and beating them already this season in a pre-season friendly tournament.

The intense atmosphere and fierce rivalry of the Derby d'Italia has famously been an occasion to use the old English football cliché 'the form goes out the window'. Beat Juventus on Saturday and Inter could build up the momentum to put pressure on the top spots in Serie A.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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