Juve ignores Inter woes ahead of 'Derby d'Italia'

Updated: 2013-03-30 08:12

By Agence France-Presse in Milan (China Daily)

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Juventus striker Mirko Vucinic insists the champion will not take Inter Milan lightly when the sides meet in the much-anticipated Derby d'Italia on Saturday.

Juve tops the Serie A table with a nine-point lead on Napoli with Milan in third, a further two points back with nine games remaining in the campaign.

Inter's solid first half of the season has been replaced by inconsistency in recent months and although in fifth place, Andrea Stramaccioni's side is seven points behind Milan and the third and last Champions League qualifying spot.

It also welcomes Juventus to the San Siro still smarting after several of its strong Latin American contingent were held up by flight delays while on international duty in midweek.

But Vucinic says Juve will be treating the clash like the "last game of its life".

He believes Inter could show the same grit and determination it did recently when it overturned a 3-0 Europa League first-leg defeat to Tottenham with a 4-1 second-leg win, only to lose out on away goals.

"We're playing against Inter, the name says it all," Vucinic told juventus.com. "They're a strong team and I don't believe people who say that they're struggling."

The Montenegrin striker, who played in his country's 1-1 draw against England in the World Cup qualifiers in midweek, said: "I saw the second leg against Tottenham and despite being written off, they nearly qualified after putting on a really proud performance.

"We have to concentrate solely on the match and play like it's the last game of our lives."

Inter silenced the doubters when it outclassed Juventus 3-1 in Turin in early November.

On that occasion, Argentine Diego Milito scored a brace with Rodrigo Palacio hitting Inter's third.

This time, however, Milito is sidelined with a serious injury while Argentine star Palacio could be below par after playing against Bolivia at high altitude in La Paz.

Other Inter players have had it worse. Alvaro Pereira and Walter Gargano were among the Uruguayans, also including Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, left stranded in Chile after their flight was canceled.

Colombian Fredy Guarin was an unused substitute in a 1-0 defeat away in Venezuela and has - like his teammates - yet to arrive back in Italy.

(China Daily 03/30/2013 page15)