The Derby D’Italia is a term coined by the famous Italian sports journalist and novelist Giovanni Luigi Brera in 1967 used to describe matches between two of the most successful Italian clubs, Juventus and Inter Milan. The rivalry between the two sides is a regional Northwest Italian battle with Juventus located in Turin, with Inter’s home being Milan.
What makes this pair one of the most intense rivalries in Italian football? This piece aims to address that through both a historical and statistical analysis. The two clubs lead the way at the top of the Serie A table and appear to be the two main challengers for this year’s title.
Juventus were founded in 1897 as Sport-Club Juventus by a group of Torinese students and it is the second oldest football club still active in the country, with the first being Genoa (1893). On the contrary, Inter Milan were constituted in 1908 and are the only Italian club to have never been relegated since then.
“Inter Milan are the only Italian club to have never been relegated since then .”
The first meeting between the two clubs took place on the 14th of November, 1909, with Juventus being the winners in a 2-0 victory. At the end of that season the ‘Nerazzuri’ (Inter Milan’s nickname due to their black and blue colours) celebrated the winning of their first championship title.
Throughout the years there were some key moments in the relationship between the two clubs which have turned this rivalry as one of the most heated in Italian football.
A title decider game among the ‘Nerazzurri’ and the ‘Bianconeri’ in 1961 was interrupted by the referee after the home fans of Juventus invaded the pitch. Lega Calcio – the governing body running the two highest football divisions in Italy from 1946 to 2010 – awarded the match to Inter Milan. However, a day later they overturned that decision ordering a replay.
Inter’s president Angelo Moratti accused Umberto Agnelli –who was Juventus and Italian’s football federation president at the time – for his influence in the decision making. Inter took the decision to play the replay game with their youth players, and hence lost the match 9-1 (the largest-ever victory in a derby d’italia), ultimately missing out on the championship title.
Another Scudetto decider Derby D’Italia in 1998 led to intense off-field discussions.
Juventus were leading 1-0 when the referee denied a clear penalty to Inter’s Brazilian striker Ronaldo. The ‘Bianconeri’ won that game w1-0 and were crowned championship winners once more.
However, the situation was far from over. Heated arguments in the Italian parliament took place –and while on public broadcast – Domenico Gramazio of the National Alliance Party screamed that “Juventus were thieves“. This caused the anger of Massimo Mauro (ex Juventus player and at that time a member of Democratic Party). The session was suspended and a number of politicians were penalized.
The last major incident that changed things dramatically for the two clubs was undoubtedly one of the worse moments for Italian football.This was the Italian football scandal referred to as ‘Calciopoli’.
As a result of illegal telephone interceptions uncovered by the Italian police in May 2006, major Seria A and Seria B clubs were accused of selecting favourable referees. Among the teams involved were Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Regina.
“Among the teams involved [in the Calciopoli scandal] were Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Regina.”
The punishments were harsh and even somewhat surprising in their severity. Apart from monetary fines, Juventus were relegated to Seria B and stripped of their last two titles. The 2004-2005 Scudetto was not awarded to any club. The 2005-2006 title was handed to Inter Milan.
Next season’s Scudetto was won by Inter Milan. Meanwhile, Juventus won the Seria B title and hence their promotion to Seria A. However, a number of significant players left the Biaconeri after their relegation to Seria B, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Liliam Thuram, and Fabio Cannavaro. Despite some big names such as Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluigi Buffon, David Trezeguet and Pavel Nedvěd staying at Juventus, Inter Milan remained much stronger. By also taking advantage of Juventus’ weakening, the ‘Nerazzurri’ were champions for the next three consecutive seasons.
“Juventus were relegated to Seria B and stripped of their last two titles.”
Statistical Analysis and Notable Moments
Since their first meeting in 1909, the two clubs have faced each other 250 times in all competitions with Juventus winning 111, Inter Milan 77 and 62 matches ending in a draw.
In regards to trophies, the ‘Bianconeri’ have won the league 35 times – more than any other Italian club – with Inter Milan sharing the second place on the list – along with AC Milan- with 18 Scudettos.
Juventus are also leading in the other two major national titles, with 13 and 8 Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana wins respectively. The ‘Nerazzurri’ have been cup winners 7 times and won the Supercoppa Italiana 5 times.
Despite Juventus being the most successful Italian football club on a national level, the ‘Nerazzurri’ are proud to have won the Champions League (or European Cup) three times compared to the two times of Juventus.
Inter Milan were European Cup winners twice in a row in 1963-64 and 1964-65 under Helenio Herrera‘s famous 3-5-2 formation. In May 1964, they won the final against Real Madrid with a 3-1 score. The next year they managed to lift the trophy with a 1-0 victory against Eusebio’s Benfica. Inter Milan were also Champions League winners under Jose Mourihno in 2010, beating Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu with Diego Milito scoring twice.
Juventus have been European champions twice. The ‘Vecchia Signora’ have participated in a total of 9 Champions League or European Cup finals and have lost 7 –more than any other club.
In 1985, at the Heysel Stadium of Brussels, the ‘Bianconeri’ won the final against Liverpool with 1-0, after a successful penalty kick by Michel Platini. That victory, however, was never truly celebrated. The disaster on the stands where 39 Italian fans died after being pressed against a collapsing wall overshadowed the action on the pitch.
Juventus fans slated their team’s players, Michel Platini in particular, for celebrating the goal as the incident took place just an hour before the game. The Frenchman stated that they were not aware that people had died in the stands. The tragedy resulted in the exclusion of all English teams from all European competitions for five years and Liverpool for an additional three.
“The tragedy resulted in the exclusion of all English teams from all European competitions for five years and Liverpool for an additional three.”
What was not celebrated in 1985 ultimately was 11 years later when Juventus faced Ajax in 1995-96. At a game being held at the Stadio Olimpico of Rome, the two teams went to penalties after a 1-1 draw with Litmanen (Ajax) and Ravanelli (Juventus) scoring the goals. With all Juventus players hitting the back of the net and with Angelo Peruzzi being the hero by saving two penalties, the ‘Vecchia Signora’ were champions of Europe for the second and last time in their history so far.
This Year’s Rivalry
Juventus are the Scudetto winners of the last eight seasons and the favors to win it this season as well. However, Inter Milan, after appointing ex-Juventus manager and club legend Antonio Conte as manager, are proving themselves as the main contenders for the title.
The ‘Nerazzurri’, with the help of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez as top-class summer transfers, in addition to the contribution of last year’s key players such as Lautaro Martinez, Diego Godin, Brozovic, Candreva, and Samir Handanovic, have shown that they can compete for the Scudetto.
On the other side, Juventus have a very complete and balanced squad and aim to win this both the domestic title as well as this season’s Champions League trophy. Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Pjanic, De Ligt, Bonucci and Matuidi are just some of the Juventus players who can decisive in winning a game against any opponent.
The two sides faced each other on the 6th of October, with the ‘Bianconeri’ managing a 2-1 away victory. However, with Juventus leading the table by just a point after 12 fixtures (1. Juventus 32 points, 2. Inter Milan 31 points), an interesting and more competitive season seems to be ahead of us. We look forward to seeing how it unfolds.
by Joseph Violaris