THIS Derby Della Madonnina should be the most-attended match in AC Milan history.
The 79,522 tickets sold will make this derby the highest grossing Milan home game in the club’s history. This season’s second derby in all competitions and first of the new year and Serie A season comes with Milan leading the table, and Inter chasing a Champion’s League place. I think it’s safe to say that the objective for this season domestically is to win the Serie A. Inter, at this point, have all but given up on the title race. Assuming it will take 80 points to win the league this year, Inter must win 17 more games this season (they’ve won 7 in the league to this point), or alternatively, must average 2.42 points per match.
Milan, tied with Juventus, need 2.26 points per match, or 12 wins and 4 draws from their remaining matches to reach the 80 point mark. Long-term this game has far more importance to Inter if they plan on challenging for the title, and for that reason, they will have an extra motivation to succeed. Milan are not short of motivation, as not only would a win effectively end Inter’s Scudetto campaign, but it would allow Milan to keep pace with Juventus, who are expected to take full points at home against Cagliari.
This isn’t the first pivotal derby in recent times, consider how last season’s first derby signified the first win under Max Allegri, and how the second derby win ended Inter’s title hopes. Milan have already beaten Inter, in this season’s SuperCopa in China by the score of 2-1. Of course, every derby has increased significance. When the schedules come out in the beginning of each season, the first question on everyone’s mind is “When do we play Inter?” Just because there is an 8 point gap in the standings does not mean that Milan can afford to give anything but one of the best performances of the season. Milan, in stark contrast to last season, have been poor against the top 5, losing away to Napoli and Juventus, and drawing at home against Udinese and Lazio. A win vs Inter is necessary as Juventus, Udinese and Napoli have already taken all three points from Inter.
In order to take all three points, Milan will need to first off, avoid a sending off, as Rino Gattuso can attest. If the preliminary formations and lineups stay the same, then the battle for the game will take place in the center of the field, and the team that controls the midfield will be the team that is able to control the pace of the game. It will be interesting to see how Motta and Cambiasso deal with the three Milan central midfielders, Nocerino, Boateng (who it is reported will be starting in the trocar) and Van Bommel. Milan should have the numerical advantage in midfield, but should lack the width that Inter will be able to come in with the 4-4-2. Ricky Alvarez is the danger man at the moment for Inter Milan, as he has recently been in such great form that Sneijder’s absence has not been felt as it would have in previous years.
It is clear that Milanista will settle for no less than a win, and given the current form of the squad, it is a reasonable expectation to take all three points. Ibrahimovic is riding a 6-game scoring streak, and Pato is riding a post-hitting streak. There is also the 13-goal combined haul coming from either side of midfield. It is (at the time of writing) not clear who will start in the trearquista position, but personally I prefer the selection of Robinho behind Alexandre Pato and Ibrahimovic. Pato will be charged up and ready to prove himself after Patogate2012 has stalled. Also, this allows there to be a backup at the trearquista position (Urby Emanuelson) as well as two backup strikers (the underused duo of Stephen El-Shaarawy and Pippo Inzaghi).
In any event, don’t forget Max Allegri is the one in training everyday, and the one who knows the players best. All we can do is back him, and support our side as they eliminate Inter from the title race on Sunday!
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