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Inter will face Juventus on Sunday in Milan for what is expected to be the most crucial and deciding clash of the current Serie A season as the Nerazzurri have a big chance to increase the one-point gap Inter currently have at the top of the table. They have 54 points after 21 games played, while Juventus are one point behind but with one game more played so far. 

The Derby d'Italia will see two of the best players of the league facing each other, as Inter's captain Lautaro Martinez will play against Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic. 

Let's take a closer look at the performances and the numbers of the two players and why they are so important for their teams: 

Both strikers had a tremendous start to the season and are probably the two best strikers in the league this campaign. Lautaro is the face and the icon of the current Inter roster, as the Argentinian also took the role of club captain after the departure of Samir Handanovic in the summer of 2023. Lautaro looks like a different player especially after he won the 2022 World Cup with Argentina. That win shaped his mentality in a much more positive way, as he's now more consistent and his numbers speak for him. This season in Serie A, he scored 19 goals in 19 games played, one per game basically as he scored one goal every 85 minutes. When he's on the pitch, Inter can count on a player who is involved in the game as he has 791 touches, more than 40 per match in the league.

How to watch

  • Date: Sunday, Feb. 4 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
  • Location: San Siro -- Milan, Italy
  • Live stream: Paramount+
  • Odds: Inter -120; Draw +240; Juve +330

Lautaro also is the first player who starts the pressure for his teammates, and many times he's the one recovering the ball, as he did 28 times this season. He's the first striker in terms of balls recovered per game this year, with Bologna's Joshua Zirkzee following him with 16 recoveries. 

As for Vlahovic, he's less involved in the action mainly because of the way Juventus play and this is why some of his numbers are affected by this. He has 537 touches so far but also scored 12 goals in 20 games played up to now. While Lautaro had a very strong start to the season, Vlahovic started quite slowly but then scored some crucial goals in the last games. He scored seven goals in the last six Serie A games and six in the last four, beginning the calendar year with braces against Sassuolo and Lecce. 

Last season Vlahovic had a difficult time at Juventus, also because of a groin pain that forced him to miss a couple of weeks and affected his training through the whole season. He came back stronger in the summer but also with an uncertain future. Juventus were also ready to sell him due to the financial issues of the club and also tried to involve him in a swap deal with Federico Chelsea and Romelu Lukaku. Despite the rumors, Vlahovic, in the end, stayed at Juventus and kept his role. This season things are going much better and the Serbian striker seems to be back at the level when he impressed the world of football when he was at Fiorentina before joining the Bianconeri in 2022. 

While Vlahovic still has to mark his name in the history of Juventus, Lautaro is already one of the top scorers of the Nerazzurri as he scored 124 in 266 games, good for eighth all time. It's also clear that this season they are both crucial for both Juventus and Inter. Vlahovic scored 12 goals in Serie A and all the other Juve strikers combined scored only nine goals. Same story at Inter, where Lautaro scored 19, Marcus Thuram eight, Marko Arnautovic one and Alexis Sanchez zero.

Lautaro is a much more experienced player and more involved in the team compared to Vlahovic for the way they play, but also for the way Juventus are playing this season, which relies more on counterattacks, while Inter tend to prefer to keep the ball much more, helping players like Lautaro to interact with the other teammates. Lautaro's age and titles won in the past years helped him to become a much better striker also for his mentality, while Vlahovic is still a little behind in the process compared to him but is totally on track to become one of the best strikers around. All the eyes will be on them on Sunday for the biggest game of the season. Back in November, when Juventus hosted Inter in Turin, the game ended 1-1 after the goals scored by Vlahovic and Lautaro. Who, if not them?