One of the most anticipated games on the Serie A calendar, the Derby della Madonnina is set to take place on Sunday at the San Siro in Milan.
The previous meeting between Milan and Inter this season ended in a 1-1 draw. With both clubs still having ambitious dreams of reaching European football, the end of the 2014-15 campaign couldn’t come sooner for fans of both sides. Inter have been unpredictable as of late, with results under Roberto Mancini being unconvincing this season and Milan have been struggling to find a solid number one formation or style in their game yet.
Expect an unpredictable match on Sunday evening.
Currently in 10th place, Inter have gone undefeated in nine of their last 10 home matches against Milan, in all competitions at the San Siro. When they are a home side, they certainly know how to give Milan trouble. Mancini’s side have been knocked out of Europa League and with European action unlikely for next season, his second spell at Inter has been a difficult one.
Inter can at least go into this match with a 3-0 win under their belt against Verona last weekend. Although with a tough schedule ahead, playing Roma, Lazio and Juventus all before the end of the season, any chance at reaching 7th place in the table seems improbable.
Inter midfielder and recent January signing, Xherdan Shaqiri, spoke about his squads recent progression in anticipation of this weekend:
“There is a great atmosphere, it has been special and positive. The tension is rising, there is also a special atmosphere in the city. We know it’s an important match and we have a great desire to win. The stadium will be full and it will be the first time for me. I expect a fantastic evening, we want to give satisfaction to our fans by beating Milan. We must enter the field with the right motivation, respect and instilling fear in opponents.”
Notable absences: Regular starters Marcelo Brozovic and Fredy Guarian are both suspended for this week due to red cards.
Only one point ahead of city-rivals, Milan sit in 9th place with 42 points entering Week 31 action. Inzaghi seems to have shown some signs of recovery in recent weeks, as Milan have only lost just one of their last seven matches. Milan still have a long way to go if they want to finish in the top six of the table.
One thing that Inter does do well is hold possession, so Milan will have to make key passes and keep the ball out of their end if they are to come out of this week with a win.
Defender, Ignazio Abate, spoke to Sky Italia during Milan’s pre-match press conference:
“The derby is definitely not like it was a few years ago but motivation won’t be lacking. We want to give some joy to our club and to our fans. Inter are a good side with great players. They have great forwards and we will have to be on guard.”
Notable absences: Although not completely ruled out, Mattia Destro is in doubt due to injury faced from last week, although he returned to training on Friday. It is likely we may see Cerci get the start up front.
Inter (4-3-1-2); Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Ranocchia, Vidiv, Jesus; Hermanes, Medel, Kovacic; Shaquiri; Palacio, Icardi
Milan (4-3-3): Lopez; Abate, Mexes, Paletta, Antonelli; Van Ginkel, De Jong, Poli; Cerci, Menez, Bonaventura
Who to watch:
Inter – Mauro Icardi
With speculation over his future at Inter, Icardi has still been one of Inter’s best players on the field. Lately, Inter have found the back of the net by attacking through the middle and pressing the midfield with through balls – most of which Icardi has been a part of. Last week against Verona, we saw that in action and Icardi registered a goal and an assist.
Milan – Jeremy Menez
Menez will likely play in the false nine role that he already has been for a few fixtures this season. Menez in this position seems to create the most chances for Milan and with Brozovic and Guarian out of the line-up that gives the opportunity to challenge against Kovacic and Vidic in the middle of the field. Although Menez seems to be the key player for Milan each week, he has been one of the only players on the field for Milan to be the most consistent and put the ball in the back of the net.
Stats from WhoScored mention that the average position of Milan and Inter (9.5 as it stands right now) is not far off from the season record low in 1941-42 when the two sides finished in an average position of 10.5 in the Serie A standings
Although there is little to play for, this will be important match to secure three points for both Milanese sides due to how close they sit against one another in the table. Even then, both sides have quite a bit of “catching-up” to do to reach Sampdoria with 49 points.