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Why Inter-Juventus is the Derby d’Italia

How a name coined by Gianni Brera in the '60s still describes the match between the two most successful teams in Italy

Why Inter-Juventus is the Derby d’Italia How a name coined by Gianni Brera in the '60s still describes the match between the two most successful teams in Italy

Tonight will be played the countless challenge between Inter and Juventus, which will be as always decisive for the assignment of the Scudetto, and that will be defined by the commentators as the Derby d'Italia. But why are the matches between the Nerazzurri and the Bianconeri called this way? It was no less than Gianni Brera, the greatest Italian sports journalist of the past century and an extraordinary creator of nicknames, from Rombo di Tuono for Gigi Riva to Il Cavaliere for Silvio Berlusconi, who came up with the lucky epithet. But in 1967, when he had to coin a way to define the match between the two most titled teams in Italy, he came up with the idea of comparing the rivalry to that of a cross-city game in which the entire nation plays. It was almost an oxymoron, associating the claustrophobia typical of matches between two teams from the same city with the extension of the entire national territory, but it fit perfectly to define the importance of the challenge. So much so that Brera never entrusted the invention of such a nickname to his pen, but somehow his intuition was so central that stick in.

On the other hand, Inter and Juventus are two of the oldest and most successful clubs in the Italian football tradition, who have faced each other so far 243 games in the most played match in Italy. A series that began on November 14, 1909 with a 2-0 win for the Bianconeri thanks to Ernesto Borel's double, and continued through a series of battles on and off the field that fueled the spirit of a rivalry that is still palpable today. If during the '30s Inter and Juventus shared the national titles, the first of the single-round tournament, it was after the war that the temperature rose between the two clubs. 

In particular, in the 1960/61 season, due to an uncontrolled influx of spectators, fans entered the Turin stadium without a ticket and crowded around the field. The match was suspended and assigned to the Nerazzurri, but Umberto Agnelli, then President of both the FIGC and Juventus appealed and obtained the ability to replay the race at the end of the championship. As a sign of protest, Inter, now cut off from the Scudetto fight, chose to take the field with the spring team losing 9 to 1 to Juventus who won the title. A case that contributed to ignite even more the dust of the challenge, which a few years later was in fact renamed by Brera the "Derby d'Italia", and that still today is defined by the Nerazzurri fans as one of the original sins of the rivalry between the two curves. 

An acrimonious rivalry that flared up again in the 1990s thanks to a renewed competitive drive for both clubs, thanks also to the investments made by the two presidents. On one side the Agnellis, on the other the Morattis, two of the most powerful families of Italian capitalism, on one side Milan and on the other Turin, the two main cities of northern Italy. A challenge that found its climax during the 1997/98 season, with the two teams engaged in a grueling head-to-head for the top of the standings. Until obviously to the still inauspicious race of Turin characterized by the intervention of Mark Iuliano on Ronaldo, that still today makes to discuss. Especially after the sentences of Calciopoli, which forced Juventus to be relegated and to give the title to Inter, as well as suspending the "Derby d'Italia" for a few years. 

And still today the match between the Nerazzurri and the Bianconeri remains a fundamental crossroads for the Scudetto fight, with Inter coming off seven points in seven matches and Juventus hoping to take advantage of every false step of the teams at the top. It will be, as always, a nervous, physical and adrenalinic challenge, confirming how Gianni Brera, more than fifty years ago, had guessed once again.