On Sunday, another chapter of the Derby della Madonnina unfolds as third place AC Milan take on Stefano Pioli’s Inter at the Giuseppe Meazza.
Anytime these two storied clubs meet, they are more times than not near the top of the table battling for league honours. However, on Sunday, that is certainly not the case as the Milanese rivals are heading down two contrasting paths coming into Round 13 of the Serie A.
AC Milan Form: WWLWW
Vincenzo Montella’s Rossoneri have enjoyed relatively steady success thus far through twelve rounds of play. Youth has propelled the club to victory on several occasions, quashing some otherwise brutal performances with sudden flashes of individual excellence. Youngsters Manuel Locatelli and Gianluigi Donnarumma were immensely important for Milan in the dramatic victory over Juventus 1-0 weeks ago, while Gianluca Lapadula’s cheeky back-heel winner stole three points at the Stadio Renzo Barbera versus Palermo.
Despite the massive letdown against Genoa days after defeating the Bianconeri, Montella has been able to get his troops back into form, and it comes at the most convenient of times.
AC Milan currently sit in third behind Roma and Juventus in the league and they hope to continue their winning ways against an Inter side now led by Stefano Pioli who replaced the sacked Dutchman Frank de Boer.
Inter Form: WLWLL
Sunday’s clash with their red counterpart sees ex-Lazio boss Stefano Pioli manage his first match for the club, an immediate test of will for the Nerazzurri who could use any glimmer of form to help them rally towards Europe.
The struggles under Frank de Boer are well documented. Since coming away victorious in the Derby d’Italia last month over Juventus, Inter has been spiraling downward. Despite being one of the more loaded sides in Italy, Inter has failed to live up to early season hype which had them as a legitimate contender for the top three, perhaps even a distant dark-horse for the Scudetto.
You could argue their poor form dates back to late-September when they fell 3-1 to Sparta Prague in the UEFA Europa League. Following the defeat, Inter suffered a hard-fought loss at the hands of Roma followed by a narrow — yet disappointing — defeat to Cagliari. They have mixed in a win here and there but for the most part, Inter has limped through the first few months of play. It also doesn’t help the cause when their captain Mauro Icardi and the Ultras wage war on each other.
With Pioli now in charge, Inter aims to finish 2016 strong and what better place to start than against your hated rivals.
AC Milan Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Abate (C), Paletta, Gomez, De Sciglio; Kucka, Locatelli, Bonaventura; Suso, Bacca, Niang.
Inter Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Miranda, Murillo, Ansaldi; Brozovic, Medel, Joao Mario; Candreva, Icardi (C), Perisic.
Four Four Two Stats Zone Notes:
- This will be the 165th Milan Derby: Inter are ahead with 61 wins, compared to Milan’s 51 (D52).
- In the last six Serie A meetings, both Inter and Milan have won two times (D2).
- Giacomo Bonaventura has scored four goals against Inter, his best tally in Serie A: none of these goals came for Milan.
- Milan are the team against which Icardi has played the most Serie A games (seven) without scoring.
Gustavo Gomez: The Paraguayan centre-back is projected to get the start in place of Alessio Romagnoli who sustained an injury while serving international duty for Italy.
Gomez has played in seven Serie A matches for the Rossoneri since his summer move over from Atletico Lanús, two of which were starts. In total, the 23-year old has tallied 314 minutes of action, but has held his own for the most part when called upon by Montella. Gomez will likely be partnered with Gabriel Paletta who has been a breath of fresh air in the back bank of four and will be assigned the task of keeping things aligned.
Inter are in a bit of a funk at the moment, but their front three still poses a major threat for any defensive unit. Gomez has yet to have his coming out party, and Sunday at the San Siro could be his time to do so.
Mauro Icardi: Inter’s captain has had quite the campaign. His autobiography raised many concerns about his loyalty to the club and it’s supporters, but when push comes to shove, he has delivered.
Starting in all twelves matches — playing each in its entirety — the 23-year old captain has bagged 10 goals and three assists. While his individual numbers rank among the best in Italy, his club’s position (9th) leaves much to be desired. On Sunday, Icardi will be called upon to lead his Inter to a positive result on the back of Pioli’s hiring.
The Nerazzurri have always leaned heavily on their captain, but the 165th Derby della Madonnina comes at a delicate time for the club. Should Romagnoli not suit up for this one, Icardi may be able to take advantage of Gomez and Paletta’s inexperience playing together by scoring his first ever goal v Milan.
The last Derby Milano saw the red and black trounce their Milanese rivals by the scoreline of 3-0 back in January, with goals coming from Alex, Carlos Bacca and M’Baye Niang.
Sunday’s main event in the Serie A will be Silvio Berlusconi’s 75th and perhaps final Derby della Madonnina in charge of AC Milan. Under Silvio’s reign, the Rossoneri have recorded 28 wins, 26 losses and 20 draws.
Make no mistake about it, each club will take the pitch hunting for all three points. Montella would love for his men to deliver a proper sending off to Berlusconi before the Chinese owners finalize the purchase of the club next month, while Inter are desperate to find form and could use a major morale boosting win.
Like the majority of the Milan Derby’s, expect this one to be nip and tuck until the final whistle. 1-1 draw at the sold out Giuseppe Meazza.