The Derby d’Italia is always one of the biggest games in Europe.
Both Juventus and Inter Milan seem to be at the top of the Serie A table no matter what point in the season it is. This season is no different, with Inter holding the top spot and Juve in third, one point behind AC Milan.
But the first edition of the Derby might determine Juve's fate a little earlier than many had hoped. A loss puts the Bianconeri a massive 11 points behind the leaders in black and blue.
To say it's the most important game in Juve's season would be putting it lightly.
1. What Kind of Tactics Will Ciro Ferrara Use?
The Juventus manager has not had all his toys to play with so far this season. At times, it has been far from that. The cupboard has been bare, leaving Ferrara with some of his most important players in the stands because of numerous injuries.
For the most part, Ferrara is getting his squad back to full health. Captain Alessandro Del Piero and midfielder Claudio Marchisio are now available for selection meaning Ferrara could go back to his base 4-3-1-2 formation.
The question is, will he use it?
Marchisio has been Juve’s best midfielder and is a perfect match for the three-man midfield. It also allows Del Piero to play in his infamous supporting striker role instead of out on a wing where he clearly doesn’t fit.
But switching to a three-man midfield in support of Diego means that Juve’s other little magician, Sebastian Giovinco, will likely be relegated to the bench, The 22-year-old Italian has seen his playing time determined by what formation Ferrara goes with.
Like it or not, Ferrara is under one hell of a microscope in his Derby debut on the Juve sidelines. He has the backing of the board, now it’s time to prove his doubters wrong on the biggest of stages.
2. Diego Must Get Involved Early and Often
When Juventus is doing good, so goes Diego. The same can be said in the opposite sense when the Old Lady is playing poorly like they are right now.
Juve’s big summer signing has had it awfully rough lately. His form has dipped and his purchase has been called into questions by some in the media.
There's no doubting that when he is clicking, Diego is one of the best in the world. It's just a matter of actually getting him going with defenses obviously trying to mark him out of the game before he really gets into it.
No matter what kind of formation Ferrara goes with, his effort and his role in the team is crucial. Juve aren't Diego-dependent, but with a formation that calls for him to be the playmaker and with no real creative midfielder playing behind him, the Brazilian magician is going to have to be the man that makes everything happen.
That's why Juve need to get him involved in the game from the start. You feed him the ball and watch good things happen. Well, it can't be that easy, can it?
With the season basically on the line, Diego will have to be at his best to secure three points.
3. Can Amauri Have Any Impact at All?
Remember this time last year when Amauri was scoring goals left and right and things seemed to be wonderful?
Yeah, those were nice. Too bad it’s a completely different season now.
There isn’t much to say about Amauri right now other than he is in a funk of massive proportions. This isn’t the same striker that was at Palermo or the one who arrived in the summer of 2008. He has only scored four goals so far this season in Italy and two of those came against Sampdoria last month.
But with injuries to both David Trezeguet and Vincenzo Iaquinta, Ferrara has no other option but to play Amauri at striker every week—whether it's as a lone striker or in a 4-3-1-2.
Unless Trezeguet's rapid recovery and inclusion in this weekend's squad means he is starting, Amauri will be playing from the first minute. Not exactly something a lot of people want to be hearing with the season on the line.
4. Can Fabio Cannavaro Recover After Last Weekend's Disaster?
For the most part, Cannavaro's return to Turin has been a productive one.
There haven't been many things to frown about. Yes, there have been the occasional slip up, but nothing to really shake your head at and worry anything serious is going on.
However, his showing against Cagliari this past weekend was something many people feared when Sporting Director Alessio Secco brought back the 35-year-old Italian back to Turin this summer. He looked slow, lethargic, and he got taken to school by Cagliari attackers on numerous occasions.
It was easily his worst showing in a long, long time.
With Diego Milito and Samuel Eto'o both as dangerous as ever, combining for 15 goals so far this season, Cannavaro will have to be at his best to shut them down. Giorgio Chiellini can't do it all by himself and that's why his central partner's role is so crucial.
5. Playing the Complete 90-Minute Match
Yes, we've been here before. But until Juventus can show they can put a complete and consistent match together, it won't be going anywhere.
What has doomed Juve this season is their complete lack of consistency. Not just over the course of the season, but also during the course of a game. Throw out a few games and their résumé is nothing impressive. There have been glimpses of what the team can do, but they have rarely put a complete game together.
Against Inter, that has to change if you want to come out on top.
On the biggest of stages and in such a heated rivalry like this is, it is not only important to come out of the blocks quick, but to also maintain that kind of pressure and quality of play.
People want to see the Juventus spirit that the club is famous for. It's time for these players to prove they are up to the task.