By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Editor
After showering and changing, Alessandro Del Piero went off to do interviews for Italy's various media outlets. He talked of the result coming first, and of the countless reasons why the victory was so important. He thanked all of the pundits for their kind words when they praised him for his performance. He even neatly sidestepped a question from the studio floor on Antonio Conte's hair-piece. He remained the perfect professional until the end.
He could have stuck two fingers up to Conte and Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, but he'd already done that on the pitch. In his 40-minute cameo, Del Piero scored one goal and created plenty more trouble for Inter as he gave the greatest example yet as to just why he should be kept on for another year by the Bianconeri.
When the No. 10 entered the fray in the 53rd minute, the Derby d’Italia was still largely there for the taking. While Juve had undoubtedly had the better of the game to that point, Inter were looking threatening on the break, particularly through Diego Milito. But that was all to change.
|MATCH FACTS | Juventus 2-0 Inter
Conte switched to a 3-5-2, as Alessandro Matri and Simone Pepe were both replaced, with Leonardo Bonucci also joining the proceedings. And within four minutes, with Claudio Ranieri’s men still trying to adjust to the extra aerial threat that Bonucci provided from deep, Martin Caceres had been allowed a free header from an Andrea Pirlo corner, and the Uruguayan made no mistake in giving the home side the lead.
Enter Del Piero. As a side who had been failing to kill off teams all season, Juve now needed to bury their greatest rivals in order to move back to within four points of the Serie A summit. And it was their skipper who would lead the way.
First, a classy turn in the box forced Lucio to clear, then he linked with Pirlo in providing the silky skills which showed his threat. But his crowning moment was still to come.
On 71 minutes, Arturo Vidal, a colossus again in midfield, picked up the ball in Inter territory. With no angle to pass, he feinted one way, saw a gap, and played Del Piero into it. ‘Il Capitano’ read the through-ball perfectly, drifting unchallenged into the space the Chilean had opened up to meet the pass with a first-time strike across Julio Cesar. Game over.
It was the skipper’s first league goal of the season, but his second in five days, following on from his opportunist effort against AC Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-final second leg in midweek. Almost more than that, it was a reminder that he still has something to offer. At a club he loves as much as anyone else in the world, his talent is still needed.
He may well be 37 years of age, but, just as Javier Zanetti has something at 38 that no younger Inter player can provide, the same can be said of Del Piero. Yes, it is a very different type of something to the Argentine, and it may well come in shorter bursts, but Conte’s tendency to ignore his skipper when Juve have needed that little extra has got the coach nowhere so far this season.
Agnelli celebrates derby win | But is it time to reconsider Del Piero's future?
Not since he started against Novara in December had the former Padova man been entrusted with such a long run-out in Serie A, but he proved in the second half that he can still trump what many of the Bianconeri strikeforce have been producing this term. The country’s most profligate forward line has needed the surefootedness in front of goal that Del Piero provides, but he has been given far too few opportunities to contribute.
But what now for Del Piero? It is more than five months since Agnelli announced that this would be the striker’s last season in Turin, but the past five days should have him and Conte thinking again. New additions could well be brought in this summer to render a further 12 months for the skipper rather excessive, but why take the risk?
When Mirko Vucinic was signed at the start of the present campaign, many suggested Del Piero would be all but forgotten. He wasn’t. And with other recent additions such as Marco Borriello and Matri having done little to diminish the captain’s status at the club, who is to say that Juve won’t find themselves in exactly the same position again this time next year?
It would make such a small dent into the coffers to keep Del Piero at the club, but it could prove hugely costly to let him go. The attitude, the passion and the professional approach would be missed, but above all, so would the ability to strike just when a goal is needed. It is time Agnelli and Conte invited Alex in for a chat.
The past week has been a reminder of just who Alessandro Del Piero is and what he provides. Now the spotlight falls on those who decided Juventus didn’t need it anymore. Do they have the balls to admit they were wrong?Follow Kris Voakes on