Juventus, Inter prepare for Derby d'Italia

Saturday's Derby d'Italia is just another game, according to Juventus head coach Antonio Conte, as the Inter Milan match kicks off a daunting Serie A title run-in.

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The reigning champions were cruising towards a 50th game without defeat in November when Andrea Stramaccioni's Nerazzurri stunned Turin with a 3-1 victory.

Inter have since fallen 18 points shy of top spot, where Juve enjoy a nine-point lead over Napoli, but Conte knows Stramaccioni's men will be gunning for a first season double since 2004.

He told juventus.com: "Those who know me well are aware that the next game is always the most important.

"We've got a fixed target of reclaiming our Scudetto title and we can't afford any slip-ups. Inter have already shown that they're capable of beating anyone in a one-off encounter.

"Both sides will be playing for the three points, a draw doesn't suit either of us. It will be an open game."

The San Siro clash precedes a two-legged Champions League quarter-final meeting with Bayern Munich and tricky league games against Pescara, Lazio and AC Milan over an intense three-week period.

"I've spoken to the lads about the importance of the moment," Conte added. "We've had a look at the fixture list, which sees us tackle six stimulating games in 21 days.

"We're in the hunt for something important - winning the Scudetto and keeping our Champions League dream alive.

"We deserve to be where we are, but it's a new situation for us and we must do well to deal with it effectively.

"I know from experience that if you try to calculate results then you run the risk of getting things wrong. You have to think about one game at a time."

Conte is keeping his team selection under wraps but certain players, including flu-stricken Montenegrin forward Mirko Vucinic, have been feeling the after-effects of international duty.

Defender Martin Caceres is still sidelined following a car accident, while the season is already over for striker Nicklas Bendtner and midfielder Simone Pepe.

For Inter, defender Juan Jesus is suspended, while Joel Obi, Gabi Mudingayi, Diego Milito, Luca Castellazzi, Matias Silvestre, Yuto Nagatomo, Dejan Stankovic and Ricky Alvarez miss out through injury.

With the distraction of the Europa League behind him, Stramaccioni is fully focused on firing Inter back into third place, which is currently occupied by fierce rivals Milan.

"It is a very important match, I know that," he told inter.it. "It's a match that no one involved with Inter could call 'just another game'.

"They have proved to be the best side on the pitch this season. We, however, have something to prove and this is the match in which to do so.

"It will be an open game in which any result can happen, just like in the reverse meeting. I can say that we will go out there to win and I am convinced will put on a great performance tomorrow [Saturday]."



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