After playing to a 2-2 draw in the last Derby della Madonnina back in November thanks to a Ivan Perisic equalizer at the death, Vincenzo Montella’s men look to impress their new Chinese owners with three points and a 5-point cushion over Internazionale on Saturday.
The first leg of Derby Milano was an extremely entertaining, wide open match. It started with a Suso curler from outside the box to make it 1-0, responded by an Antonio Candreva screamer at the beginning of the 2nd half. Milan’s Spaniard was back at it again, dribbling around Miranda and notching his brace, before Ivan Perisic won a point for Stefano Pioli’s side in the 93rd minute. Now, with only seven matches left to play in the 2016/17 season, every point is crucial for European qualification. Currently, the Rossoneri sit two points up over Inter, clinging on to that last Europa League qualification spot. In one of the most crucial derbies in recent years, both teams will be looking to snatch an important three points.
Serie A Form:
AC Milan- WDWLW
Milan are going into the derby with a ton of confidence, as they played arguably their best match of the season in a 4-0 thrashing of Palermo at the San Siro last weekend. With Suso, Mario Pasalic (who is suspended for the derby), Carlos Bacca and Gerard Deulofeu on target, Montella’s side will be prepared to battle. Before that, they disappointingly drew away to Pescara 1-1, in a strange and unlucky match, to say the least. Prior was a 1-0 win against Genoa, with Mati Fernandez, who could start in the derby, netting for Milan. This came after the controversial 2-1 loss at Juventus Stadium, which the Rossoneri have re-grouped well from considering the circumstances. Their San Siro success continued, beating Chievo Verona 3-1 before the match against Juventus. Montella, the new Chinese owners and the players are confident heading into the latest episode of the Derby della Madonnina.
On the other hand, Pioli’s side aren’t so hot coming into the derby at San Siro. At the weekend, they fell 2-1 to a relegation Crotone side, which really put a halt to their road to Europa League, and definitely Champions League. Danilo D’Ambrosio was on target but there wasn’t enough in the tank to snatch a draw against the Calabrese side. Before that, courtesy of a Marcelo Brozovic hand ball, the Nerazzurri fell 2-1 to Sampdoria at the Giuseppe Meazza, thanks to Fabio Quagliarella converting from the spot. They then drew 2-2 to Andrea Belotti’s Torino, which was a decent result. Internazionale’s last two victories came four and five matches ago, smashing Atalanta 7-1 with Icardi and Banega hat-tricks, and also cruising by Cagliari 5-1 prior. Having not won since March 5th, Pioli knows the importance of this derby, as with a loss, even Europa League will be a tough task for his men.
AC Milan (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Romagnoli, Zapata/Paletta, De Sciglio; Locatelli/Mati, Sosa, Kucka; Suso, Bacca, Deulofeu.
There are rumours that Vincenzo Montella is still deciding whether to pair Cristian Zapata or Gabriel Paletta alongside Alessio Romagnoli at the back. Also, the midfield trio is not yet set, as reports have surfaced that Locatelli and Sosa will combine in the midfield, while others report it will be a Mati-Sosa-Kucka centrocampo.
Inter Milan (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Medel, Miranda, Ansaldi; Gagliardini, Kondogbia; Candreva, Banega, Perisic; Icardi
It’s been reported that Gary Medel will be alongside Miranda in the defence, but there’s still a chance Stefano Pioli goes with a Murillo-Miranda partnership. The rest of the lineup should go as follows, with Argentine Mauro Icardi leading the line, and a high-profile attack in behind him.
Players To Watch:
Suso Fernández (AC Milan)
The Spaniard has been absolutely superb for the Rossoneri all season long. Coming back from injury last weekend with a vengeance, he is certainly my player to watch for the derby. With many around the world tuning in this Saturday, he will look to shine bright for the Milanisti. Having scored two brilliant goals in the previous Milanese encounter, there’s no doubt that he relishes for the big match and spotlight. Suso will look to get on the ball early and often on the right flank, causing tons of problems for Ansaldi and co.
Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan)
The Argentine has actually never scored against AC Milan in the derby, but he will look to change that this coming Saturday. As Inter’s captain and main man up top, the number 9, Interisti put their trust in him to lead the club to success. With dangerous forwards in Banega, Perisic, Candreva, and even Joao Mario or Marcelo Brozovic off the bench, the always dangerous 24-year old captain will look to deliver his side three important points.
The Verdict – Final Score?
As we all know, in a match like the Derby della Madonnina, no matter the standings, nobody stands as a clear favourite. It’s always a fierce battle that could swing either way. If you want to go off which team is hotter coming into the match, Montella’s Rossoneri should be fired up after a good string of matches. Plus, the final closing of the Chinese investors has finally taken place, perhaps fueling the players to perform. On the other side, Pioli’s Inter squad know the importance of winning the derby, as it keeps their Europa League hopes alive, taking them one point past Milan. My prediction is a 2-1 final score for either side. A tough, close-knit battle for 90 minutes.