Juventus v Inter key battles as Ronaldo goes up against Skriniar

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 19:18 06/12/2018
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Is he saving it for the crunch games?

A feisty rivalry resumes at the Juventus Stadium as the Bianconeri host the Nerazzurri on Friday night. The hosts are unbeaten in the Serie A this season and have now won five games on the bounce. Inter did well to recover from a 4-1 humiliation at the hands of Atlanta and saw off Frosinone 3-0 before playing out a 2-2 stalemate against Roma.

The fact that both clubs are subject to European engagements later in the week renders this clash intriguing.

Juventus arrive to the fixture without the services of Sami Khedira and Andrea Barzagli. The visitors will be hoping that the injured Radja Nainggolan wins his race against time and gets the green light to feature against their rivals. Joao Mario is the favourite to replace the Belgian if he fails to do so.

We take a look at some of the key battles that can shape the course of the game:

Cristiano Ronaldo v Milan Skriniar

Milan Skriniar

Milan Skriniar

One of the best players of all-time, Cristiano Ronaldo does not require a second invitation to step up in a crunch fixture. After failing to score in his first three games in Serie A, the Portuguese went on to score 10 goals in the 11 games that followed and has provided five assists.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has been directly involved in at least one goal in the last 11 games in the league, a phenomenal feat.

The former Real Madrid man can function either as a left-winger or a number nine and in either case he will be up against Martin Skriniar, one of the finest defenders in the league.

Skriniar has dropped commendable performances in some of the toughest games Inter has played this season. The Slovakian kept Luis Suarez and co at bay in Inter’s home leg against Barcelona in the Champions League, a performance that piqued the interest of several top European clubs.

The 23-year-old might be a tough nut to crack for Ronaldo on Friday.

Mauro Icardi v Giorgio Chiellini

Mauro Icardi.

Mauro Icardi.

One of the best strikers Europe, Mauro Icardi has always been a thorn in the opponent’s foot. The Argentinian has scored eight goals in nine appearances for the Nerazzurri this season and assisted twice.

Never the one to shy away from a challenge, Icardi has scored against Barcelona, Roma, Milan and Lazio this season. The 25-year-old will be looking to add Juventus to his list of victims.

Even at the age of 34, Chiellini remains one of the best centre-backs in Europe. The Italy international just dropped a flawless performance against Fiorentina and can be a real bother for Icardi.

The Pisa born was reunited with his long-term partner in defence Leonardo Bonucci and the pair will be looking to erect an unbreachable wall in front of the Juventus goal.

The fact that there is no love lost between the players involved renders this a clash extremely significant.

Miralem Pjanic v Marcelo Brozovic

Miralem Pjanic

Miralem Pjanic

Two of the finest midfielders in the league face off in our midfield battle as Miralem Pjanic takes on Marcelo Brozovic.

Rarely the ones to stray into the final third, the pair equally share six direct involvements in goals between them this season. Pjanic’s influence on the game transcends mere stats as the Bosnian orchestrates the play, pulling strings from deep which enables quick changes in tempo. Suffocating the 28-year-old should restrict the creativity from the Juventus midfield and Brozovic will be looking to achieve this.

The Croatian will provide a shield to the Inter back-line as he attempts to keep the fearsome Juventus front-line in check. This game demands a lot from the World Cup silver medalist and he will have to out-perform his best games to hand the visitors an advantage.

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