Inter vs Juventus: Picking a Combined XI of Derby d’Italia Icons

Gianluigi Buffon, Javier Zanetti
Juventus FC v FC Internazionale Milano – Serie A | Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Inter and Juventus. Il derby d’Italia. The derby of Italy.

The two Goliath’s of Italian football have put on some of the greatest games in Serie A history over the years – and the derby has seen some of the sport’s elite stars do battle on the biggest stage. 

Unfortunately, we can’t squeeze all of the legends into our star-studded first team, so prepare to be angered and puzzled at one stage or another – and no, Zinedine Zidane hasn’t made the cut. And obviously Cristiano Ronaldo is nowhere near the lineup. Deal with it.

With all of the fine print out of the way, let’s get on with 90min’s Inter and Juve all-time combined XI.

Juventus's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon gJuventus's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon g
Juventus’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon g | GIUSEPPE CACACE/Getty Images

Gianluigi Buffon joined Juventus in 2001, and apart from one brief love affair with Paris, the Italian giant has remained in Turin ever since. A mainstay in I Bianconeri’s defence, Buffon has won everything on offer at club level – except the mischievous Champions League, of course. 

A nine-time scudetto winner, Gigi pips fellow Bianconeri shot-stopper Dino Zoff to the number one spot in our combined XI. One of the greatest goalkeepers of all time – and he’s still going, too.

Javier ZanettiJavier Zanetti
FC Internazionale Milano v Cagliari Calcio – Serie A | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

A bandiera of the modern day Inter, Javier Zanetti made over 600 appearances for I Nerazzurri during his time in Milan, and grew to become one of the greatest players in the club’s history. The Argentine star lifted five Serie A titles while at San Siro, and was part of José Mourinho’s 2010 Champions League winning side. 

Bags of energy, pace and class on the ball, Zanetti gets the nod to patrol our right flank. 

​​Gaetano Scirea was a winner. There’s no other way of putting it. Widely considered one of the very best, the World Cup winner lifted every trophy on offer during his 14 years at ​Juventus, claiming seven Serie A titles and a clean sweep of European prizes. 

A complete defender – and one who rightly earned his place in Juve’s all-time greatest XI – he has also worked his way into 90min’s combined XI, too. I’m not sure which is more prestigious, really.

Walter SamuelWalter Samuel
Inter Milan v CSKA Moscow – UEFA Champions League | Massimo Cebrelli/Getty Images

The Wall. You don’t just get handed the nickname ‘The Wall’, you’ve gotta earn it. And that’s exactly what Walter Samuel did. The Argentine was a ruthless defender, whose presence alone was enough to put any striker off their scoring appetite. 

A proper hard man, Samuel makes up one of the most fearsome centre-back partnerships of all time.

Another Inter legend completes our backline. A one-club man, and a legend also for the Italian national side, Giacinto Facchetti was one of the first – and very best – attacking full-backs in football history.

The Nerazzurri hero was openly considered a genuine sensation both defensively and offensively, so much so that he came second in the 1965 Ballon d’Or awards. Four Serie A titles are enough to allow Facchetti the freedom of our left flank.

Michel Platini, Mario Faccenda, Giuseppe CortiMichel Platini, Mario Faccenda, Giuseppe Corti
Juventus French midfielder Michel Platini (C) stru | STF/Getty Images

Bit of a ‘Paul Scholes playing left-midfield for England’ vibe to this one, but needs must. Michel Platini has suffered a huge fall from grace with his dodgy dealings at FIFA in recent years, but we mustn’t forget that this man was absolutely unstoppable during his five-year spell at Juventus.

Although his time with I Bianconeri turned out to be the final years of his career, Platini still managed to bag two Serie A titles, a European Cup, and three Capocannoniere awards. I feel like I’m missing something…

Oh yeah, and three successive Ballon d’Or awards. A proper baller.

Esteban CambiassoEsteban Cambiasso
FC Internazionale Milano v Bologna FC – Serie A | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Every top side needs an unsung hero. For every Frank Lampard, there’s a Claude Makelele. For every Mesut Ozil, there’s a Granit Xha…maybe that example is a bit weaker. Anyway, Esteban Cambiasso was Inter through and through, and his impact on the team can never be underestimated.

The Argentine spent a decade at the heart of I Nerazzurri’s side, winning five scudetti and the aforementioned 2010 Champions League. A man who was never afraid of doing the dirty work, Cambiasso sits at the base of our midfield. Ready to get stuck in.

An oldie but a goldie, Giampiero Boniperti joins Cambiasso in the centre of the park. Boniperti picked up over 400 senior appearances during his career- and all for I Bianconeri. The Juve legend played as a striker for many years and became the club’s leading scorer – until a certain striker pinched that crown off him (more on that later).

But Boniperti was moved back into the midfield when I Bianconeri signed John Charles and Omar Sivori, and he made up the magical trio, which helped fire his beloved club to three Serie A titles.

Juventus Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved cJuventus Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved c
Juventus Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved c | GIUSEPPE CACACE/Getty Images

A proper Juventus legend. ​Those bouncing, flowing locks. That wicked left peg. Pavel Nedved took Turin by storm upon his arrival, winning two scudetti, and he even remained loyal to the club when they were relegated from Serie A during the Calciopoli scandal.

Nedved was cruelly robbed of a 2003 Champions League final appearance for a yellow card he collected in the semi-final, but it was us who were truly robbed of seeing the genius on the biggest stage of all. If it’s any consolation to Nedved though, he’s made the cut with 90min.

Ronaldo Nazario - Soccer PlayerRonaldo Nazario - Soccer Player
Claudio Villa Archive | Claudio Villa/Getty Images

A generational talent. A boy who burst onto the scene, and sat every goalkeeper down on their bum in an instant. Ronaldo was one of football’s greatest ever stars. Il Fenomeno. It’s unbelievable to think ​Barcelona allowed the Brazilian starlet to leave after only one season in Catalonia, but ​Inter broke the bank to sign the superstar – and they certainly reaped the benefits.

Ronaldo destroyed every defence in Serie A claiming his first Ballon d’Or success while at the club. The only sour note of his time in Italy was the knee injury he suffered against Lecce, and subsequently aggravated against Lazio, which would recur heartbreakingly throughout his career.

What a player, though.

Alexandro Del PieroAlexandro Del Piero
UEFA Champions League – Bayern Munich v Juventus | Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

One of the most​ talented strikers in world football, Alessandro Del Piero was always destined for greatness. His lightning quick feet, his ability to ghost beyond players, and of course, his clinical finishing. The Italian forward was the best in the business, but his brilliant career was sadly ravaged by injuries.

The fact Del Piero recovered from crippling knee problems and continued to break records speaks volumes of the character of the man, although he never reached the heights that were initially expected of him. But he changed his game to mask his deficiencies and he eventually became Juve’s highest ever scorer. But more importantly, he completes our unbeatable XI.


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