TOMORROW night sees the 175th Derby della Madonnina in Serie A history,and it promises to be one of the most hotly contested ones yet. Let’s look ahead the teams, the lineups, what each side needs to do to win and the effect any outcome could have.
Firstly, the teams, and there’s some good news for Milan fans as Inter will be missing one or two key figures – particularly in defence… (all predicted lineups are from the Gazzetta Dello Sport)
Inter’s squad: Julio Cesar, Luca Castellazzi, Paolo Orlandoni; Ivan Cordoba, Javier Zanetti, Lucio, Marco Materazzi, Cristian Chivu, Davide Santon; Dejan Stankovic, Wesley Sneijder, Esteban Cambiasso, Joel Obi, Coutinho, Amantino Mancini, Obiora Nwankwo; Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito, Goran Pandev, Jonathan Biabiany.
Probable lineup 4-2-3-1: Cesar; Cordoba, Lucio, Materazzi, Chivu; Zanetti, Stankovic; Pandev, Sneijder, Eto’o; Milito.
And now for Milan’s squad: Abbiati, Amelia; Antonini, Bonera, Jankulovski, Nesta, Papastathopoulos, Thiago Silva, Zambrotta, Yepes, Abate; Ambrosini, Boateng, Flamini, Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Ronaldinho
Probable lineup 4-3-2-1: Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Silva, Antonini; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Ronaldinho, Seedorf; Ibrahimovic
Assuming the teams lineup something like that, it’s certainly going to be an exciting clash.
The Key figures for Inter will be man of the moment Samuel Eto’o, last season’s top scorer Diego Milito, possible ballon d’or Wesley Sneijder and Lucio at the back
For Milan, Seedorf will have a big part to play after his form in recent weeks, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be hoping he might haunt his former club, whilst Gennaro Gattuso and Mathieu Flamini will have a lot of work to do keeping Inter quiet on the counter.
Now let’s examine the team’s form going in to this – and it’s safe to say that it’s the red half of Milan who are in better form:
Inter’s last game ended in a 1-1 draw with Lecce, and the match before that was the same result against Brescia, and even that was only as a result of a dubious penalty which would have had Inter fans screaming ‘injustice!’ had it gone against them.
Milan’s last 2 games have been 3-1 and 3-2 wins against Palermo and Bari respectively. The noticable thing from Milan was though, that despite scoring 3 goals, the finishing has been particularly poor, (especially Robinho…) and the Rossoneri will have to be much more clinical as Inter won’t be as kind to them as Bari and Palermo were.
And so that brings us on to what needs to be done to win this game…
From Inter’s point of view, it’s probably easier to close down Milan than vie versa – what Inter need to do is shut down Clarence Seedorf and/or Ronaldinho/Robinho/Pirlo dependant on who plays, and thus minimise the Rossoneri’s creative threat, forcing them to go long to Ibrahimovic and leave the swede isolated..
What Milan need to do is create enough space for the creative talent to operate, effectively deal with Inter’s counter attacking threat, and be clinical – because Milan are certain to get at least some chances no matter what Inter do, thanks to the creative talent on offer, but it’s vital that they take those chances to secure the win.
Lastly – what happens after the game?
Inter are currently behind Milan by 3 points, so to even get ahead of the Rossoneri, let alone go top they need to win by more than 2 goals – a win for the Nerazzuri would bring Milan back down to earth with a win here. It would also be a significant moment for Rafa Benitez, could this be the game that finally cements his place as manager with the Inter fans?
If Milan win, it could be a huge signal of intent – Adriano Galliani believes that a win would virtually seal the Scudetto, but I think it’s a little early to be making calls like that. 3 points would also but them a whopping 6 ahead of their inner-city rivals, and would definitely show Milan mean business this season – it would also be a bit of a comeback, given that Inter did the double over the Rossoneri last season.
A draw would just leave both sies as they were, since Roma and Juventus drew, however it would present Lazio with an oppertunity to climb back to the top in their game against Napoli.
While this game won’t settle the title race, and it’s too early in the season to draw any big conclusions, however, it may well be a good indicator of how the season will go, and it might expose one or two weaknesses from either sides. It should be an exciting clash, and it’s been on every Milan fan’s mind since the moment the Bari game ended – so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show tomorrow night!
By Hefin Davies, Rossoneri Blog