Invincible? Ten months on from his appointment as the Juventus manager, Antonio Conte is yet to taste defeat. Second in the Serie A table and through to the final of the Coppa Italia, his team might have drawn as often as they have won in the league – 14 times apiece – but still nobody has managed to beat them.
Sure, they were second-best over 90 minutes by Milan in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final on Tuesday, but even then the score finished as 2-2 on the night - after extra-time. The Milan vice-president wrote an open letter to Gazzetta dello Sport this week protesting that this still counted as a defeat for Juventus, but you can be fairly sure that nobody in Turin was too bothered about what he had to say.
What they will be more concerned about is the eight point gap that now exists between their side and Galliani's league leaders, who beat Roma 2-1 on Saturday afternoon. Defeat, or even another draw, this evening could deal a fatal blow to Juve's title aspirations.
Worse yet is the thought that their first defeat at the new Juventus Stadium could come in this fixture, at the hands of their old rivals Inter. Not for nothing is this fixture called the Derby d'Italia. There is genuine ill-feeling between the two clubs dating back to long before the Calciopoli scandal - in which Juventus were stripped of both their 2004-05 and 2005-06 titles, with the latter being awarded to Inter.
With 10 games to go last season, Inter were second on 56 points and Juventus seventh on 41. This season those positions and points tallies are exactly reversed. Inter should not, on recent form, be capable of harming Juve on their own turf. But with players the calibre of Maicon, Diego Milito and Diego Forlan in tonight's team, you still know that on the right night, they can.
Team news Five changes from the Coppa Italia side for Juve - with Buffon back in and Del Piero back out. Inter are without the injured Wesley Sneijder, while Forlan - despite his apparent refusal to come on during last week's draw with Atalanta (denied by Claudio Ranieri) - is back in the starting line-up.
Juventus: Buffon; Caceres, Barzagli, Chiellini, De Ceglie; Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Pepe, Matri, Vucinic. Subs: Storari, Bonucci, Padoin, Marrone, Del Piero, Quagliarella, Borriello
Inter: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Nagatomo; Zanetti, Stankovic, Poli, Obi; Forlan, Milito. Subs: Castellazzi, Ranocchia, Chivu, Faraoni, Guarin, Cambiasso, Pazzini
Showing their respects A minute's silence on the pitch before kick-off for Michele Silvestri – an Italian soldier who lost his life in Afghanistan. Many in the stands seem to have opted for a minute's applause instead.
1 min We're off, accompanied by some boisterous backing vocals from the crowd at the not-so-nattily named Juventus Stadium. Andrea Pirlo, upon arrival at the club this summer, said that he thought the stadium would be even more intimidating to visiting sides than a full San Siro. He might be right.
3 mins Inter on the front foot in these opening moments, Maicon driving down the right with he and Forlan combining to box Juventus in even after possession has been lost.
4 mins But when Juventus break free they really do break free - streaming forwards down the right after Obi loses his footing and then the ball in midfield for Inter, before falling into Nagatomo. Vidal races away in possession before feeding Pepe down the right. His cross for Matri was not the greatest, yet Cesar still failed to gather at the first attempt. Eventually Inter hack it clear.
6 mins Something I had wanted to mention in the build-up, but was unable to do due to time constraints, were the banners placed inside the tunnel by Juventus in this new stadium - celebrating each of their Serie A titles. Officially the club has 27, yet there are 29 on display in the stadium, the club refusing to accept the Calciopoli verdicts which saw them stripped of the last two. Would have been interesting to be a fly-on-the-wall as Inter's players, several of whom were around in 2006, passed by.
8 mins Claudio Ranieri acknowledged in the build-up to this game that Inter would have to run their socks off to keep up with this Juventus side, famed for its work-rate, and thus far his team have met their coach's expectation. It's been a lively start, with zipped passes, aggressive pressing and firm tackles on both sides, but so far not a lot of goalmouth action.
9 mins Speaking of firm tackles ... Maicon just cleaned out Paolo De Ceglie on the left for Juventus near midfield. No card, but an indication of the approach being taken perhaps.
11 mins Inter win the first corner of the night on their left, but the ball is headed firmly clear. Not that it would have mattered, as the whistle had already gone for a foul by Samuel on Chiellini. The latter is not best impressed.
13 mins Whistles at Juventus Stadium as Obi breaks down the left for Inter but gets his cross all wrong, cutting the ball back behind the attackers racing into the box.
14 mins Inter really are pressing very high tonight, keeping Juventus penned back in their own half and forcing errors from a team who remain committed to passing their way out of trouble. Moment's after Obi's missed cross, Maicon wins possession back, angling inside before playing Milito through on goal near the penalty spot. Buffon is out quickly, however, and the striker's shot is charged down.
15 mins Everybody likes to talk about Pirlo and the difference he's made to this Juventus team this season, but the role played by Buffon should not be underestimated. After being hampered by injuries for the best part of two years now, he has come back with a clean bill of health and apparently renewed motivation. I was fortunate enough to interview him earlier this season and he was already talking about the next World Cup. Despite having already won one of those, along with just about everything else (besides the Champions League), he still believes he has things left to achieve in his career.
17 mins And now the best chance of the game at the other end, Caceres afforded far too much time in possession on the right hand side and allowed to swing the ball over to the middle of the six-yard box, where Alessandro Matri had wriggled free of his marker but directed his header too close to Julio Cesar. The keeper reacted sharply to parry the ball away.
19 mins Simone Pepe cleans Nagatomo out with a - perfectly legal - sliding tackle by the right-hand touchline. The crowd in Turin roar their approval. The most technically gifted winger in the world he may not be, but Pepe's combination of above average quality and relentless work ethic makes him the poster child for Conte's team. Even if the manager does claim to draw such performances by threatening the player with a stick with a nail in it.
21 mins Juventus are beginning to create a little more now, though a decent opportunity goes awry when Mirko Vucinic bizarrely chooses to barge his own team-mate Marchisio off the ball in the box, only to get his own cross all wrong.
22 mins Vidal now tests Cesar with a drive from 20-25 yards out that never quite had the pace required to beat the keeper from that range. Juventus have settled; now it's Inter's turn to set up camp on the edge of their own box.
25 mins Juve continue to apply the pressure without ever quite fashioning a clear-cut chance, until finally the ball is cut back to Matri near the penalty spot from the right-hand side. But the striker's body shape is all wrong, leaning back as he hooks his shot and over the bar.
27 mins Inter finally escape their own half, but when the move breaks down on the edge of the Juventus box they immediately find themselves caught out once more, Pepe escaping down the right and sending over a cross which Caceres glances across goal but also just beyond the outstretched boot of an unmarked Vucinic on the far side. There's a goal coming here, surely …
29 mins Blimey - but at which end? Inter win a corner on the counter-attack, and Forlan escapes his marker at the near post to meet Maicon's delivery with a fine header. From the moment he made contact with the ball it looked destined to finish up in Gigi Buffon's net, yet the keeper pulled off a startling reflex save to keep it out at the near post. What was I saying about his form this season?
30 mins "Buffon 2 - inter 0 .. keep telling you that's the story here," tweets Anto of the @BeyondthePitch Twitter account. That might be about right.
32 mins Shall we call that Buffon 3-0 Inter? This wasn't quite such a startling stop from the keeper, but he still had to be on his toes to claw away Milito's shot after the Argentinian had got goalside of his marker on the right and crashed a shot towards the near top corner.
34 mins First yellow card of the night goes to Yuto Nagatomo after a clumsy challenge on the left. For such a full-blooded game, it's been pretty clean so far.
35 mins Blimey, Buffon with yet another save as Obi launches an exocet from 25 yards out which dips and swerves on its way to goal but still fails to elude the one they call Superman. Not without reason.
37 mins Diego Milito pounds the floor furiously after being taken out by Chiellini about 25 yards out and it's easy to sympathise. He had nudged the ball around the defender before being completely upended, with the only possible case against giving the free-kick being the possibility that he might have already lost possession due to the heaviness of his touch. The fact Chiellini got up pleading with the ref - only to then realise it hadn't been given - says it all.
38 mins And then immediately down the other end we go, with Vucinic having his shot from inside the D smothered by Cesar. It never really had the venom required to beat the keeper, but this game has a brilliantly relentless quality right now.
40 mins Back down the other end, another save is required from Buffon after Stankovic crashes in a low drive from outside the box which might otherwise have snuck in at the near post. Wonderful game, this, despite the lack of goals.
41 mins "Gigi Buffon. The man Bret Hart was talking about when he said "the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be....."," tweets the Turin-based football writer Adam Digby.
44 mins A few moments without a chance at either end. Instead a free-kick for Juventus deep in their own half after Diego Milito catches the back of Chiellini's head with a forearm.
Half-time: Juventus 0-0 Inter Not one minute of injury time played, though there is time before the break for Poli to join Nagatomo as the second man in the referee's book. Breathless stuff in Turin; I, for one, am very much enjoying it.
A 'classic' derby Because if old footballing cliches have taught us anything, the form book goes out the window in games such as these. "It feels like Inter have had more shots on target in this half than in the entire last month or so," tweets John Foot, author of the excellent Calcio: A history of Italian football. "Buffon outstanding."
Gigi Buffon I'm sure many in Spain will disagree, but I honestly think Buffon is the best keeper I've seen in my lifetime. Reflexes, agility, but also all the rest - brave when he needs to be, knows when to come and when to stay, good with his feet, distributes well. Can't think of a more complete keeper.
Coreografia There is a rather brilliant caricature of the Inter owner Massimo Moratti, complete with devil horns, being shown up in the stands at Juventus. I may be biased, but nobody does banners as well as Serie A fans.
46 mins No changes on either side at half-time. "Not as good as Schmeichel, had the talent and the presence. buffon in same class as Casillas," tweets @chrisbhoy77 in response to my description of Buffon as the greatest keeper I've seen. Certainly Schmeichel would be a close No2 for me, but I'm not sure even he could quite match up. Had the bravery and the judgement but maybe not quite as light on his feet. Casillias I would place a step behind both.
48 mins A new half, but the same story so far as Inter immediately find themselves pouring forwards once again, Buffon gathering comfortably enough a shot from just outside the box.
50 mins Missed opportunity for Inter as Maicon has time to cross from the right but fails to pick out a totally unmarked Diego Forlan at the back post - lofting his delivery high across the area. Meantime, the Guardian's own La Liga expert Sid Lowe wades into the Gigi Buffon discussion. "Absolutely no doubt that Spain fans would say Iker Casillas," he tweets.
53 mins Well, well, the first substitution of the game has arrived and it's Alessandro Del Piero – fresh from his goal against Milan in midweek – coming on for the hosts. Alessandro Matri makes way, a fact which draws a mixed response from the crowd. Many would have preferred to see Vucinic replaced instead.
55 mins Things a little quieter here in the second half so far, with the game yet to reach the manic end-to-end phase we saw at the end of the first. Somehow I suspect it'll arrive before too long, though. Chiellini nearly lets Obi in down the left after throwing his whole body into a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge, only to bounce off the Inter midfielder and wind up on the floor. Thankfully for Chiellini, he did just enough to disrupt Obi and allow the ball to run out for a goal-kick.
GOAL! Juventus 1-0 Inter (Caceres, 57 mins) At last the deadlock is broken in the Derby d'Italia, Caceres left totally unmarked on Juventus corner, and directing his header into the bottom corner from the middle of the box. Terrible defending by Inter to leave him in so much space, but Juventus won't care one jot.
58 mins Oh, Antonio Conte enjoyed that one – the Juve manager tearing off down the sideline pumping his fists with a fury. No question that they need to win this game after Milan's victory over Roma yesterday.
60 mins "A subplot in the game now: this will be Del Piero's last match vs Inter," tweets @nevborg, who is more than likely correct. The forward has been told his contract will not be renewed at the end of this season, and will almost certainly move abroad in the summer. He could, technically, yet join another European club but Inter themselves don't look too likely to be involved in European competition next season …
62 mins Del Piero is already showing his quality for Juve, creating panic in the visitors' backline before his cross is finally muddled clear. Many times this season Juve have been accused of lacking a fuoriclasse who can unpick a stubborn opponent. And yet, even at 37 years old, there he is.
65 mins I know I've only included people disagreeing with me about Buffon so far, but actually the overwhelming majority of correspondence has concurred. "A mate of mine, ok he's a Juve fan, said (when City bought him) if Robinho was worth £30m, Buffon was worth £150m," tweets @GeraghtyDarren.
67 mins Double substitution for Inter, with Obi and Poli withdrawn and Faraoni and Pazzini sent on. A shame for Obi, who I actually thought had been one of their better performers, but Ranieri's desire to change something is understandable: Inter have barely registered here in the second half.
69 mins Milito fizzes a shot just past the post. Signs of life from Inter?
GOAL! Juventus 2-0 Inter (Del Piero, 71 mins) Well if there were, they have now been swiftly crushed. Moments after freeing Vucinic inside the box, only for the Montenegrin to drive his shot straight at Julio Cesar, Alessandro Del Piero is himself played through by Vidal. Unlike his team-mate he makes no mistake, slotting the ball past the keeper into the bottom corner. A classy finish, and remarkably Del Piero's first league goal of the season. He hasn't often got a look in under Conte in Serie A matches. Perhaps the lesson of this week is that he should have.
73 mins It's tough on Inter – who might have been three up by half-time were it not for Buffon – but since the break Juventus have been comfortably the better side. A familiar story for this team under Conte. Juventus were outplayed for more than an hour against Milan in their league game at San Siro earlier this year, yet while the Rossoneri were left rueing Muntari's ghost goal, it was still remarkable how the game turned around at the end. Whatever their flaws or limitations, Conte certainly has this team working from the first whistle to the last.
74 mins Second substitution for Juventus, Fabio Quagliarella coming on for Mirko Vucinic.
75 mins And now De Ceglie becomes the first Juventus player to be shown a yellow card. I'm afraid I missed the offence which it was for!
78 mins Oh my, how was that not a third goal for Juventus? Maicon it is who makes the decisive intervention, somehow clearing off the line for Inter, but it should never have reached the point where he was able to do so. Chiellini was clean through on goal about 10 yards out, but rather than try to beat Julio Cesar opted to square the ball to his fellow centre-back Bonucci alongside. The pass, though, was all wrong, running past Bonucci and over to Quagliarella at the far post. From an acute angle he succeeded in hooking the ball back on target, but Maicon slid in to block it behind. Great defending, but had that been someone other than Chiellini on the ball for Juve, it would surely have wound up in the back of the net.
80 mins "I'm with you Paolo, Buffon is a step ahead of the others. It's not even a question of national pride, he's just better than everyone else and has been for years," writes Jonny Millls. "When he was still at Parma I saw Dario 'the Biso' Hubner playing for Brescia put through one-on-one three times in the first 10 minutes. Against any other keeper that was 3-0, but somehow he kept them all out and we ended up losing, without, I think, Parma conceding a goal. Dario was Brescia's top scorer until Robi Baggio came along and put us in the history books."
82 mins The cameras just cut to the Andrea Agnelli in the stands, and it must be said that the Juventus president looked remarkably bored – his head slumped forwards on his hand and bearing a glum expression. The game has, admittedly, lost some zip since Juventus's second goal, but you'd have thought that in itself might be a cause for celebration ...
83 mins "Russian crowds have always been great for a good banner too, in fact most people in Russia go to football to see what the fans are going to do," writes Declan Paul Johnston. "This is a simple yet effective, no to the influence of money in football banner by Spartak Moscow fans."
85 mins Oh, what a save that is from Julio Cesar – who, while not at Buffon's level, has played well despite the scoreline. From a free-kick on the right, Pirlo had swung the ball over to far side of the six-yard box, and Chiellini rose above Maicon to meet it with a ferociously powerful header. Again the ball looked destined for the corner, but Cesar reacted with startling speed to throw up a palm and block it over the bar. Fantastic save.
87 mins"Yes, Buffon for me too, the best keeper I've seen (been watching football since 1972)," writes Antonio Sonnessa. "I'm so pleased for Del Piero, with key goals against Milan and now Inter. If it is to end this season he deserves to go out on a high. Indeed if Juve had given him more time on the pitch one or two of the too many draws may well have been turned into wins. Still lacking a little creativity up front, esp when Vucinic is on an off day. It is what Milan have over them this season for me."
89 mins Juventus close to a third yet again, this time Quagliarella breaking free of Nagatomo as he slipped into the area down the right, but denied by Cesar's feet at the near post. As much as Inter had the better of the first half, they could have conceded five in this second.
90 mins We'll have a minimum of three minutes of injury time. I'm going to say that won't be enough for Inter.
90 mins (+1) It will be enough, however, for a spot of handbags, Chiellini getting into it with Milito and then the referee after catching another forearm to the head. A foul, certainly, but worth getting so wound up about at this stage of the game?
Peep! Peep! Peeeeep! Amid a sea of waving black and white flags in the stands, the final whistle goes and Juventus are confirmed as winners of the Derby d'Italia. A fine game of football, even if Inter will struggle to remember it in such a positive sense. There is no easy way out for them from a dismal season that looks ever more destined to end with the team missing out not only on the Champions League but on any European place. Juve, meanwhile, close the gap to Milan back down to five points. Their Scudetto dream remains very much alive, and they have two of their longest-standing and most loved stars to thank in Gigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero. If that is indeed to be his last ever game against Inter, then what a way for the striker to bow out. Anyway, that's it from me. Thanks for reading.