TURIN – It was always going to be a tough mountain to climb, and there’s undoubtedly regret: the Nerazzurri have been made to pay the price for the two goals they conceded at San Siro. It finished 0-0 in Turin this evening, with Antonio Conte’s men failing to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit and thus bowing out of the Coppa Italia. Nevertheless, the team had a really good go, amassing a total of 21 shots. Precision and perhaps a bit of ruthlessness in a few situations were missing. As for the Nerazzurri’s opponents, Juve defended well and managed the ball for large spells of the first half. In the second period, meanwhile, the Bianconeri inevitably dropped deeper, looking to hit Inter on the counter. The Nerazzurri had several chances but were unable to light the fuse that would have seen the match explode into life.
Inter’s task was clear: they needed to score at least two goals to be in with a chance. The 3-5-2 formation selected by Conte included Hakimi and Lukaku, who both missed the first leg through suspension, while Eriksen was chosen in midfield alongside Barella and Brozovic. As soon as the game began, Juve looked to keep the ball, and by the midway stage of the first half they’d had 70% possession. Nevertheless, they weren’t creating chances in attack and were more concerned with stifling Brozovic through Kulusevski, who was keeping close tabs on the Croat with the aim of nullifying Inter’s attacking play.
The Nerazzurri, however, had other weapons at their disposal, particularly down the right flank occupied by Hakimi, who looked to have the better of Alex Sandro (he received booking in the opening period). The Moroccan was unstoppable and managed to pick out Lautaro in the ninth minute, but Bernardeschi got in the Argentine’s way.
Inter then had to wait until the halfway stage of the first half to really get into gear in attack, after which they laid siege on the Bianconeri goal. Barella and Hakimi were surging forward and combining dangerously with their teammates, with Juventus often having to make last-ditch interventions to keep the Nerazzurri at bay. In the 26th minute, Eriksen whipped in a free kick that bounced off Lukaku and went inches wide. Eriksen and Lautaro then had efforts at goal, but it wasn’t quite going Inter’s way.
In total, the Nerazzurri had nine shots at Buffon’s goal in the first half, one of which was on target and four of which were blocked. Juve continued to stand firm and almost struck a blow late in the half through Ronaldo, who was denied by de Vrij and then Handanovic’s feet. 0-0 at half-time, and there was very much a sense of urgency at this point.
The Nerazzurri attack had less strength going forward in the second half, with Juventus organising themselves into two lines and managing to nullify Inter’s centre-forwards, who were struggling to get the better of De Ligt and Demiral. Hakimi was still a major threat, but his left foot, the same one which had shined against Roma, wasn’t quite so precise this time as he fired over from the edge of the box. If there is one big regret about Inter’s attempted comeback, it’s that they didn’t capitalise on the mistakes made by the Juve defence during their build-up play: more than once, as the backline moved forward with Bentancur, pressure from the Nerazzurri combined with errors on the part of the Bianconeri gave Inter possible chances that failed to result in goals.
Pirlo’s team tried hard to respond, with Cuadrado, Kulusevski and Ronaldo bursting forward on more than one occasion. The latter tested Handanovic twice, who made two decisive saves to keep the match at 0-0 and give Inter the chance to put in the maximum level of effort in attack. Conte changed tactics, moving to a four-man defence with Kolarov at left-back. The Serb posed a real threat on his side of the pitch, being behind plenty of moves including balls forward and long-range shots.
Sensi also took part in the final Nerazzurri attempts to keep Juventus pinned inside their own box: it was mission accomplished in this regard, but Inter didn’t reap the awards. The four minutes of injury time were of no use to Conte’s side either in their attempts to break through the Bianconeri wall. The game finished 0-0 and Juventus qualified for the final of the Coppa Italia.
MATCH DETAILS: JUVENTUS 0-0 INTER
JUVENTUS (4-4-1-1): 77 Buffon; 13 Danilo, 28 Demiral, 4 De Ligt, 12 Alex Sandro; 16 Cuadrado (3 Chiellini 82'), 30 Bentancur, 25 Rabiot, 33 Bernardeschi; 44 Kulusevski; 7 C. Ronaldo.
Substitutes: 1 Szczesny, 31 Pinsoglio, 9 Morata, 14 McKennie, 19 Bonucci, 22 Chiesa, 36 Di Pardo, 37 Dragusin, 38 Frabotta, 51 Peeters
Coach: Andrea Pirlo.
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar, 6 de Vrij, 95 Bastoni (11 Kolarov 65'); 2 Hakimi, 23 Barella, 77 Brozovic, 24 Eriksen (12 Sensi 65'), 36 Darmian (14 Perisic 58'); 9 Lukaku, 10 Lautaro.
Substitutes: 27 Padelli, 97 Radu, 5 Gagliardini, 8 Vecino, 13 Ranocchia, 15 Young, 33 D'Ambrosio, 99 Pinamonti.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
Bookings: Darmian (I), Alex Sandro (J), Perisic (I), Brozovic (I)
Added time: 0' - 4'.
Assistants: Bindoni, Paganessi.
Fourth Official: Chiffi.
VAR Assistant: Giallatini.