Juventus vs. Inter Milan: 5 Lessons Learned from Derby D'Italia
The win moves Inter Milan further away from a spot in Europe, and brings Juventus back to just four points out of first place.
This was no fluke win for Juventus. Although Inter Milan had their chances to score, it was Juventus who controlled possession and created more scoring opportunities for their strikers.
And in classic fashion, it was Juventus' experienced warhorse, Alessandro Del Piero, who won the game with an excellent finish off a well-placed through pass by Arturo Vidal.
Here are five lessons we learned from the Derby d'Italia.
Gianluigi Buffon: The Best There Is
Another game, another clean sheet for Gianluigi Buffon.
In world football, there is always a tendency to say "out with the old, in with the new."
Nowadays, everyone wants to talk about the likes of Bernd Leno, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, David de Gea, Wojciech Szczesny, Joe Hart and all the other good, young goalkeepers playing in the biggest clubs around the world.
In the process, the older generation of goalkeepers has been pushed aside. However, those who've watched Buffon this season and don't allow age to affect their judgement will agree that Buffon has been arguably the best goalkeeper in the world this season.
Against Inter Milan, Juventus made seven saves, many of them top-quality, to preserve a clean sheet for the Bianconeri.
Presently, his record stands at 15 clean sheets in 27 games, with only 0.54 goals allowed per game. Is there any goalkeeper in the world with better stats?
I'll save you the time of searching: the answer is no. Take into consideration then that Juventus' defenders are above average at best, and Buffon's stats are even more remarkable.
They say a good goalkeeper is good for 10 to 15 points a season, but Buffon will surely have earned Juventus many more than that by the end of this season.
Martin Caceres Is a Changed Man
I remember watching Martin Caceres in his first spell with Juventus. The guy was poor; he didn't do enough offensively, and his defensive positioning was frequently exploited by the opposition.
In recent games with Juventus though, Caceres has looked like a changed man. I would go so far as to say he's been Juventus' best overall defender on many occasions.
His defense is still not perfect, but he makes far fewer errors, and he now has the confident to stride up the field to put in crosses or get on the end of them, like he did today against Inter Milan.
It was his goal that opened the scoring for Juventus, and even though he was given an insane amount of space, his redirection of the ball into the net was superb and almost unstoppable.
With Caceres and Stephen Lichtsteiner, Juventus are as solid as can be at the right-back position. Now, to fix up that pesky left-back position.
Inter's Defense Is in Shambles
I'm not sure who was supposed to be marking Caceres in the box on Andrea Pirlo's corner, but whoever it was did an awful job.
Even Arsenal, notorious for their set-piece fragility, won't leave a defender completely unmarked on a corner like Inter Milan did.
Additionally, even though Arturo Vidal's through pass was timed to perfection in conjunction with Alessandro Del Piero's run, Vidal was able to make the pass with little pressure and way too much time on the ball.
That's not to mention the fact that a 37-year-old with little pace left in him was able to split Inter's defense with ease and calmly slot the ball past Julio Cesar into the net.
I've said it many times: Claudio Ranieri is not a full-season coach. He arrival brings a boost of results to his new team, but his tactics quickly cause the team to stagnate.
Inter will have to decide what they want to regarding their coaching and playing personnel in the summer, but they better do something, because the current crop is definitely not cutting it.
Wesley Sneijder's Absence Is Hurting Inter
Wesley Sneijder's never ending injury problems have really hurt Inter Milan this season.
The harsh reality is that in the absence of Sneijder, Inter Milan are an incredibly dull side to watch. Even with the injection of new talent in the form of Joel Obi and Andrea Poli, neither are developed players ready to step in Sneijder's shoes.
In addition, Claudio Ranieri has struggled mightily with accommodating Sneijder in his starting lineup.
Jose Mourinho utilized a 4-3-3 with Sneijder as the focal point of the team in front of Cambiasso and Zanetti when he coached the team back in 2009 to 2010, but of the numerous formations utilized by Ranieri this season, that has not been one of them.
Instead, Ranieri has tried to get Sneijder to play right behind the strikers in 4-3-1-2, or as a withdrawn playmaker in a 4-2-3-1. Other formations tried include the 4-3-2-1 (Christmas tree), and of course a standard 4-4-2.
All of these formations have brought Inter Milan limited success, and have contributed to the team's continued struggles this season.
Inter May Not Be in Europe Next Season
It's time that Inter Milan faced up to the possibility that they will not be playing European football next season.
Even with the Coppa Italia Europa League spot likely to be given to the sixth place finisher in Serie A, Inter Milan aren't likely to finish in the top six.
That leaves Roma, Inter Milan and Catania to fight over sixth, and honestly, I fancy Roma to to beat out Inter and Catania.
Though they've been nearly as inconsistent as Inter this season, they have the youth and exuberance necessary for a strong end-of-the-season run, and Luis Enrique has shown that he has the tactical know-how to rise up for the big occasions.
Furthermore, Inter Milan has matches against Udinese, AC Milan and Lazio before the end of the season, and in the current form their in, I wouldn't be surprised to see Inter lose all three of those games.