After yet another international break, Milan returns to league action and what a game to restart the season it is.
The first Derby di Milano is upon us, two sides in almost total contrast both on and off the pitch will battle for the bragging rights of the city of Milan.
Vincenzo Montella’s young side have suffered only one defeat in the last eight games but includes wins over Lazio and Juventus. Currently occupying a Champions League spot, things seem to have finally turned a corner and with the impeding take over almost complete things have not looked this good for the fans of the Rossoneri in a long time.
Inter on the other hand seem to have gone back to their roots and have endured a chaotic season. Just like their inception was created out of divide and in-fighting this season seem to have mirrored that scenario.
Two weeks before the start of this current season, coach Roberto Mancini was replaced by former Ajax coach Frank de Boer but after only 12 games and 85 days he was removed from his position. Coupled with that the Inter Ultras had some beef with their captain Mauro Icardi over some comments in the 23 year old strikers autobiography. All this left a sour taste and in a rather surprising move Inter appointed former Lazio coach Stefano Pioli. A bizarre move when you consider that Inter’s sporting director Piero Ausilio defended the sacking of De Boer by saying to Mediaset “If you lose 50 per cent of your games, it’s impossible to go forward,” Ausilio continued “Let’s give time to Pioli to build his team.”
Strange considering Pioli has a career win percentage of only 36.35%.
Milan on the other hand seem calm and tranquil, a settled side winning games despite not truly playing the “Montella” style of football. Of course improvements are needed but this is a young squad and with a young team you have to accept there will be mistakes.
Milan’s derby form has not been great in recent times with only two wins in the last ten league games. But the last Derby della Madonnina was an emphatic 3-0 win with goals from Alex, Carlos Bacca and M’Baye Niang.
Unfortunately Milan did not survive unscathed from the international games. One key player missing is the excellent central defender Alessio Romagnoli, who suffered a moderate muscular lesion in the groin region this past week v Germany.
So, the goal scoring efforts of Carlos Bacca will once again be at the fore front of any Milan success. Scoring in the last derby, the Colombian will be hoping to continue this streak and ensure the Rossoneri consolidate their Champions League position.
Love him or loathe him there is no escaping the goal scoring talents of Inter’s captain Mauro Icardi.
The Argentine polarizes opinions amongst many but the stats do not lie. The 23-year-old has scored in his last three games for Inter and has a shot to goal conversion rate of 30.6%, currently the best in Europe. Subduing him for any team is a tough task but with Milan missing the ever important Romagnoli from their defensive shape, the task becomes harder.
Bragging rights, a Champions League spot, looking to get a troubled season back on track, all these are on the line come Sunday for both teams. But one thing can be guaranteed: the San Siro for perhaps Silvio Berlusconi’s final derby at the helm will be the best place on Earth for ninety minutes, but for which set of fans remains to be seen.