Derby Duel: Carlos Bacca v Mauro Icardi

On Sunday, the Milanese clubs clash once again as the rossoneri goes toe-to-toe with their hated bitter rivals Inter in the newest installment of the Derby della Madonnina. With each club desperate for a win to keep pace in the hunt for European qualification, look no further than the striker matchup between Milan’s Carlos Bacca and Inter’s Mauro Icardi to decide the outcome.

Carlos Bacca has been everything Siniša Mihajlović could have hoped for, and more when Adriano Galliani hauled him in from La Liga club Sevilla this past summer. Despite costing Milan €30m, the Colombian striker has been worth every penny. He’s led the attack for the entire season and despite not having a consistent midfield to bombard him with scoring chances, Bacca has made each and every shot count.

Switching gears to the blue and black. Mauro Icardi, after staying put amid a flood of transfer rumors this past summer, has been key for Roberto Mancini once again despite what statistics show. The ex-Sampdoria standout shared capocannoniere honors last season with Hellas Verona’s ageless number 9 Luca Toni, scoring 22 goals each respectively. This season, Mancini and his Inter side have made it a priority – or so it seems – to be a more defensively sound unit and limit the opposition’s chances around goal. However, the the efforts of the 22-year old Icardi should not be dismissed.

Using Squawka’s Comparison Matrix tool, here is a comparison of the two strikers season’s thus far:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.13.10 PM

Let’s dissect these numbers further.

Carlos Bacca does not lead Serie A in scoring. In fact, the leading scorer – Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain – has an astonishing 21 goals in as many matches this season and is on pace to leave the 2014-15 tally of Icardi and Toni in the dust. Paulo Dybala and Éder also have the advantage over the former Club Brugge attacker. But what Bacca has done with the chances he’s been provided is far more impressive than his goal total and it speaks volumes about how clinical he truly is. The 29-year old has been forming chances on his own due to the fact that the midfield’s service has been highly underwhelming. Along with Giacomo Bonaventura, Carlos Bacca is practically irreplaceable when you look at the broad scheme of things.

Higuain who, once again, leads all of Italy in scoring trails the Milan striker when it comes to conversion rate. Here is how Bacca compares with Icardi and the league’s top scorers:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.41.30 PM

To calculate the conversion rate, simply take the goal totals of each comparable and divide by the total shots. Here are the rates (rounded):

Bacca: 28%, Icardi:25%, Higuain: 18%, Dybala: 19%, Éder: 23%

As the numbers support, Bacca does more with less. This further proves that he is as clinical as they come when given the opportunity.

For Mauro Icardi, the 2015-16 season has not been nearly as good as the last. In 36 league matches in 2014-15, the Argentina forward scored 22 goals, but in eighteen Serie A appearances this season? Eight. Should he maintain this pace and play in exactly the same amount of matches as last season, Icardi will corral 16 goals, but of course he is fully capable of having a better second half of the season, and he will be called upon to do so.

Inter’s number 9 is far down the list in scoring, but that’s not to say he hasn’t been important to his side. Icardi’s eight doubles the second highest scorer of the nerazzurri this season: Stevan Jovetic. In fact, Jovetic scored three of his four goals this season in the first two matches of the season against Atalanta and Carpi. He has scored just one goal in his last 15 matches for Inter. After the former Fiorentina attacker, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic and Adem Ljajic come in all tied with 2 goals a piece. These numbers show that Inter are not exactly the offensive juggernaut.

Inter have won 12 matches this season, but nine have come via a 1-0 result. While it does show how valuable Joao Miranda and Jeison Murillo – and of course Samir Handanovic – have been all season long, it also emphasizes that goals have been tough to come by, which is why Mancini is hopeful for the acquisition of Sampdoria’s Eder.

This Sunday, Milan and Inter will duke it out at the San Siro for the 164th time in the history of Serie A play. Milan and Inter have set their objectives for the end of the season. The Nerazzurri still have aspirations of dethroning the surging Juventus for the Scudetto, but will also have Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli to fend off as well. For Mihajlović and his Rossoneri, it’s to get back into European competition, with Europa League as the logical achievement.

Both Carlos Bacca and Mauro Icardi are sure thing starters for Sunday and each manager will lean heavily on their star attackers to carry them to an important derby win. Which striker will be more decisive in the latest edition of the Derby della Madonnina?

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