Antonio Conte’s Inter finished just a solitary point off of the champions Juventus last season and having added to their squad over the summer, the pressure is on the 51-year-old to go one better this season and beat Andrea Pirlo’s side to title.
Inter haven’t won the scudetto since the 2009/10 season and with Juventus arguably more fallible than they have been in years gone by in the eyes of many, failure to leapfrog them would represent a total failure for Conte
The Old Lady currently find themselves in third, seven points off of top spot, although it should be noted they have a game in hand on the sides around them. With Andrea Pirlo still finding his feet as the main man in Turin, Inter will have no doubt been hoping to sit top of the table at this stage but there has been one problem.
That problem is their city rivals AC Milan, the season’s surprise package, who under Stefano Pioli’s management, find themselves top of the table – two points clear of the Nerazzurri. Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to spur them on, even at the age of 39 and last weekend netted his 500th club career goal.
If Milan were to maintain their current position until the end of the season it would come as a surprise to many given their goal at the start of the campaign would have been to achieve Champions League qualification. However, given Inter’s greater strength in depth and the fact they are within touching distance of their fiercest rivals, quietly, you’d imagine Conte will be confident of closing the gap on the Rossoneri.
When it comes to the strengths of their respective squads, Inter and Juventus are undeniably far superior to anybody else in the division, and as good as Milan have been to date, barring a self-implosion from either, it’s unlikely the aforementioned chasing pair are going to fall away.
The fact that Juventus, despite being the reigning champions appointed a rookie manager in Pirlo, should in theory give Inter the advantage with Conte at the helm – a manager who was signed with the primary objective of delivering the league title to the Curva Nord.
Formerly of Juventus, Conte earned hero status as a player in Turin and you could argue he elevated that to legendary status having guided the team to three scudetti as the manager. However, his relationship with his former club soured when he fell out with Andrea Agnelli and the pair were seen making their feelings known to one another during the Coppa Italia clash between the two sides earlier this week.
Conte’s decision to join Inter in May 2019 will have no doubt angered the Juventus faithful further but given his rocky relationship with the club’s chairman, he perhaps saw the job as the perfect opportunity to get one over his former employers.
However, aside from any personal motivations the former Chelsea boss may have, the strength of Inter’s squad is far superior to that of their local rivals, the fact this is his second full season in charge and that Juventus are not quite the dominant force they once were – anything other than ending the club’s wait for their first scudetto in over a decade will feel like a failure.