Andrea Pirlo has had some tough tests in his first six months at Juventus.

He’s taken on both Roma and Lazio in the Eternal City and drawn both games, been beaten by Barcelona at home and returned the favour and then some in Spain, enjoyed a late derby win over Torino, and taken the scalp of league leaders Milan at San Siro.


It is that stadium which may be set to provide the toughest examination of the rookie Bianconeri boss yet on Sunday night, as he heads into his first Derby d’Italia in charge.

That fixture pits the league’s most inexperienced coach, albeit one who has largely delivered in the biggest games so far, against Serie A’s most prestigious and highest paid.

In fact, such is the disparity between the two men who still stand on the sidelines on Sunday that speaking purely financially, a La Gazzetta dello Sport wage report cites Conte as making a staggering €10.2 million-a-year more than the first-year tactician!


For the kind of outlay Inter are making on the former Chelsea coach, you expect results. And you even expect them instantly.

He’s had his bedding-in season and had the club even fork out over €300m for him in the transfer market, so the time has come for Conte to repay their faith with silverware.

The easiest path to that is winning games like this one and dealing the reigning champions a potentially fatal blow in their bid to win a tenth successive Scudetto.

But that’s something that hasn’t came easy to the Nerazzurri of late, neither under Conte nor his predecessors.


Juventus, who have more Serie A wins against Inter (84) than any other team, are the only side in the top flight that they have failed to beat since the start of 2017.

They’ve faced off seven times in that time, with the Old Lady enjoying five victories and being just twice.

There also appears to be a renewed pep in her step since the turn of the year, just as Inter have dropped some costly points in Genoa and Rome.

While they’ve slipped, Juve have emerged by beating Udinese, league leaders Milan and the always impressive Sassuolo — giving Pirlo a fresh confidence in his approach.

At the beginning of 2021, we made clear what our objectives are. There’s a new mental strength in place. We’re only worrying about ourselves.Pirlo on Juve’s resurgence

Not since September 2016, with Frank de Boer registering one of his only two home wins, and Inter’s memorable stirring comeback have they beaten the Bianconeri at home, their only victory in their last 10 attempts when hosting the champions.

And as if those omens weren’t bad enough, the side where Conte built his legend are the only team who have a 100% success rate against him in Serie A.


The fixture also comes at a time when he’s being heavily criticised for his poor game management, namely his poor substitutions, while Pirlo finally seems to be getting things to click after he too suffered the backlash following Juve’s 3-0 reverse against Fiorentina in their final outing of 2020.

But if you think all of this is reason to write Conte and co. off then think again.

In Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez, they have the league’s highest scoring strike partnership with 21 goals, while Juve’s left-back issues, if Alex Sandro is still sidelined, will be a big hole for the outstanding Achraf Hakimi to exploit.


In previous such top-of-the-table clashes this season, against Atalanta, Roma, Lazio and Milan, Conte has failed to justify that eye-popping salary.

The time has come to deliver.

Oh, and if all of this isn’t enough to convince you that Serie A is worth your full attention this weekend, there’s also the small matter of a Friday night Rome derby to enjoy!


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