Juventus managed to get away with a point at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza against Inter, adding one more chapter to the books of controversies between the Nerazzurri and the Bianconeri, writes Lorenzo Bettoni at San Siro.
Watching Inter-Juventus, one had the feeling that points are already heavy in Serie A, despite only being in October.
Both teams wanted to win without losing their balance. The Nerazzurri almost got the three points using Juventus’ weapons: score, defend, hit on the counter.
Simone Inzaghi’s plan was almost perfect as the Nerazzurri scored an early goal with Edin Dzeko. They conceded little to Juventus, defending well throughout the game, but a late penalty kick from Paulo Dybala spoiled what seemed to be an impeccable programme.
That spot-kick will be the most debated incident among Serie A fans during the next few days.
Denzel Dumfries went in late to clear from Alex Sandro and caught the Brazilian on the boot. The referee waved to play on, but after more than one minute, he was called by VAR to view it again.
At that point, Mariani assigned a penalty kick to the Bianconeri, which Dybala converted on his return to action after an injury, netting his fourth goal across all competitions this season.
Many things can be said about such a challenge. Did Dumfries hit Alex Sandro? Yes. Was the contact worth a penalty? Not sure. Was it a clear and obvious error by the referee, so that VAR had to call him? Probably not.
Had Inter-Juve been a Premier League or Champions League game, the referee would not have been called to make that VAR check.
The debate on which model is better is wide open, but it is a fact that, regardless of Inter-Juventus, VAR is used more often in Serie A than in other leagues and European competitions.
Surely, Inter must have regrets about not taking all three points and not just for that spot-kick.
The Nerazzurri remain seven points behind leaders Napoli and Milan, but there are questions regarding Inzaghi’s use of substitutions, especially tonight.
The Serie A champions could have killed off the game earlier, they were in control for a long time, while Juventus became dangerous only in the second part of the match when Massimiliano Allegri introduced Federico Chiesa and Dybala.
The Italian coach had expected ‘a physical match’ and for this reason, he decided to start Chiesa on the bench.
However, the Italian starlet changed the game with his pace and his unpredictability, creating trouble for the Nerazzurri who felt the three points could slip from their hands as soon as they saw Chiesa and Dybala come in.
Inzaghi is right when he says Juventus could only score from a penalty kick. That’s the feeling the Old Lady gave tonight.
The Bianconeri give their best when they are not forced to play out from the back. They thrive in counter-attacks and that’s how they can be dangerous against any opponent.
When they find opponents sitting deep, they struggle to find a way through. Partially because they don’t have a top-class centre forward and partially because they don’t have many midfielders who run into open spaces.
A defeat would have destroyed their title hopes, while one point still sees them sit ten points off leaders Napoli and one off Roma in fourth.
Both Juventus and Inter have their problems, but the big talking point about the game will always be that controversial spot-kick and that’s hardly a surprise when it comes to Juventus-Inter.
Even their last meeting in May ended with huge arguments as Juan Cuadrado earned a penalty that eventually proved to be crucial for Juve’s Champions League qualification last season.
But there are plenty of refereeing incidents that have made history, the most eminent remains the famous contact between Mark Iuliano and Ronaldo in 1998.
It’s part of history and tonight a new chapter of the book was written. Juventus and Inter will soon have to forget about it to achieve their goals, because both teams proved they still have plenty of work to do to get up there with Milan and Napoli.