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Inter Hero Highlights The Major Difference Between Napoli And Juventus After An Impressive Win Over The Defending Champions

Written By Onyeka Daniel

After Juventus had won against Monza, Inter needed a show of strength to get back on top of the table and they did that in an emphatic fashion against the defending champions of the League and also at a difficult stadium for the Nerazzurri in recent years.

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They consolidated their leadership and sent a strong message to the rest of Serie A by dominating the reigning champions on their own turf, although, it was an even affair, well, at least until Inter opened the scoring with a beautiful goal from Hakan Calhanoglu just before the half time break.

The Partenopei had their own moments, such as Matteo Politano thumping the crossbar and a couple of big Yann Sommer saves, but the away side showed why they’re considered the favorite for the Scudetto this season. Calhanoglu’s daisy-cutter found the bottom corner from distance, then Nicolò Barella got between defenders defenders to score after laying the assist for the opener, and before a late Marcus Thuram tap-in on Juan Cuadrado’s assist.

After the game, Inter manager, Simone Inzaghi acknowledged that the team did put on a ‘show of strength’ with the win and also thanked Carlos Augusto for being a makeshift centre-back. “The first half started well and the Thuram goal was disallowed for a very tight offside,” Inzaghi said in his post match interview.


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“Napoli are the Champions of Italy, we ran some risks on the Politano chance and the Sommer saves, but the lads deserved it and I hugged them all individually. “This was our fifth away fixture in the last six games, the third in a week, and we needed a performance like this. Once we went 2-0 up, we took full control. “Winning like this in Naples is satisfying, but we also know it is only Week 14 and there is a very long way to go.”

The comments about Inter tend to say they have become ‘mature’ since reaching the Champions League Final last season and Inzaghi does agree, pointing specifically to their ability to work around a shortage of defenders. “It was a show of strength, of team spirit, those who started and came on, for example we lost De Vrij after 18 minutes with two other defenders already out. Carlos Augusto had not played in the back three for a couple of years, he did it in Serie B I think under Giovanni Stroppa at Monza.

“I did not want to shift Matteo Darmian off the right flank, as it was tricky dealing with the Kvicha Kvaratskhelia. I preferred to opt for Carlos Augusto and he did really well. “Coming to Naples, you have to expect some difficulties. We had prepared in a certain way to push our wing-backs against their full-backs, because the further away you keep Napoli from the penalty area, the better. The only time we really struggled was when we were defending too deep.”

With Diego Milito in the DAZN studio as a pundit, Inzaghi was asked if there were similarities between the Milito-Samuel Eto’o dynamic and that of Lautaro Martinez with Thuram. “There are comparisons, as one is more dangerous in the penalty area, the other moves around him. We must also not forget that we have players like Alexis Sanchez and Marko Arnautovic who can help us out, as they did midweek in the Champions League.”

Inter put in such dominant performances so far this season and already booked their place in the Champions League Round of 16, but Inzaghi is keeping his feet on the ground. “It was honestly not expected to do this well immediately with many new players. The step up in quality comes when you lose players and have to call on others to help out, for instance Carlos Augusto as a centre-back.

“Now we will see their condition, we hope to have Alessandro Bastoni back soon, Pavard in 10-15 days, while there is a little more pessimism around De Vrij. “I am sure tomorrow they will write that Inter have no rivals, while on Wednesday we were 3-0 down against Benfica and they were writing very different headlines. We know that, we’ve experienced it and can come to expect it.” he further added.

Meanwhile…

Barella thanked Inter fans after finally getting his first goal of the season, but admits ‘Juventus are the toughest team to play against.’ After assisting on Calhanoglu goal, Barella then slalomed between defenders to get his first goal for the 2023/24 season.

“Napoli are Champions of Italy for a reason, they are a very strong team, so it’s natural we had to suffer a bit here. Even then, we proved that we want to do well and are prepared to fight until the end,” Barella told DAZN in his post match interview.

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“I can only thank the fans, because in a difficult period for me where things weren’t working, it had never happened before, they kept supporting me, making me feel important. I dedicate this goal to my wife and children.” There was the assist for Calhanoglu’s opening goal from outside the penalty area. “If Calha hadn’t hit it like that, my assist would’ve seemed useless! Goals and assists are always combinations between players. I am glad all our efforts went into the net.”

After crushing Milan 5-1 and Napoli 3-0, but only drawing 1-1 away to Juventus last week, does this mean the title race will be a Derby d’Italia affair? “There is a very long way to go, we saw all too well how moments can change a season.

“Juventus are the toughest team to play against, as they close up the spaces and defend well. Napoli were more open and we took advantage of that.” The victory allows Inter to remain top of the table and keep that two-point advantage over Juve, while Milan consolidate third place. Roma now catch Napoli in joint fourth on 24 points.

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