Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri believes Inter Milan are once again genuine Serie A title contenders.
Since winning a league, cup and European treble under Jose Mourinho in 2010, the Nerazzurri have been far removed from the Scudetto race as several changes of ownership have forced periods of transition.
But Inter finished fourth under Luciano Spalletti last season and 14 games into the current campaign sit third and look good for a Champions League place, even if Juve do look untouchable at the top.
Ahead of Friday night’s Derby d’Italia in Turin, head coach Allegri said at a press conference: “Regardless of where we are in the table, it will be a fascinating evening. It will be a technical and mental test against a team who have grown a lot, and that with Napoli are our rivals for the Scudetto.
“But I don’t care how our opponents are doing, we have to focus on ourselves. There are many points still to play for and a lot of games to go.
“Congratulations to Spalletti for what he is doing, after having already done great things at Roma and in Russia (with Zenit St Petersburg).
“Inter’s strong point? They are a team who play with technique, speed and they have an extraordinary finisher in Mauro Icardi.”
Allegri has doubts over Rodrigo Bentancur, who is struggling with a back problem, but fellow midfielder Emre Can could feature at Allianz Stadium after returning to fitness following a thyroid issue.
“He’s fine and is in good spirits,” the boss said of the former Liverpool player. “I’m not excluding the possibility he could even play a part in the match.”
Spalletti, meanwhile, confirmed that Dalbert and Radja Nainggolan remain sidelined with injury.
On Inter’s chances in Turin, he said: “I have more belief because I think that the team are improving and showing the right attitude in games. We’ve had some good games of late, we’re an excellent side.
“There’s a significant gap in the table, it will be difficult to make it up. This is the bad news. The good news is that the chance of closing the deficit is on us and we’ll play to do so tomorrow.
“The team is what can always rescue you. A team’s strength can take you far and we’re a strong team.”