By Daryl Nii Lante Thompson
The Derby della Madonnina is the most anticipated derby in the history of Italian football and arguably over the world. Tonight will be the 224th official meeting between the bitter rivals with Inter having the edge on the whole (80) and in recent meetings.
In what we hope will be a great game, there are certain issues that Milan will have to have addressed over this week to stand a chance against our bitterest rivals. As a consequence of my excitement towards tonight’s game, I have detailed what I believe are 3 important issues Milan need to have resolved to stand a chance against Inter tonight given our uninspired performances last week.
1. Meaningless Ball Possession
For starters, it was painfully obvious that Milan had run out of ideas during their encounter with Verona particularly in their attacking transitions in a counter-attack or when dictating possession in the half of Hellas Verona. This more often than not ultimately resulted in their resorting to unnecessary passes in front of the opposition goal. This not only slowed down counter-attacks, it led to the Verona defense reorganizing immediately after. It proved mightily detrimental to our attacks and was grossly ineffective as Milan struggled to break down a resolute defensive side for most parts of the game, with the early red card doing no favors. If Milan are to beat Inter, Marco Giampaolo and his charges would need to work on effective and quick attacking transitions with a goal in mind (pun intended) – shooting meaningfully or finding Piątek! Inter have an aging team with problems, as Slavia Prague demonstrated this week, and hitting them with efficient, meaningful and potent counter-attacks will aid in the team’s chances of victory come tonight.
2. Piątek’s Involvement
Another aspect of Milan’s game that is in dire in of improvement to bolster our chances of a victory in tonight’s game revolves around one man – Piątek. It has been no secret how Piątek has struggled to find the net this season and eerily, his involvement in the Verona game, particularly in the first half and the early part of the second half left a lot to be desired. He was isolated and often not given the ball in positions he would like. This meant that the team was very tame in attack and registered few shots on goal during this period of the game with the midfielders and Suso especially neglecting their responsibility to find Piątek with through balls or decent crosses as he favorably positioned himself for the pitch-perfect delivery. Piątek’s involvement in attacking plays and one-twos in the second part of the second half culminated in the penalty that led to his goal as well as his disallowed goal. His swift movements and great positioning is a great advantage to this Milan team, particularly against this Inter defense. And if the team is to have an advantage against Inter, then it is obvious that they play to Piątek’s strengths.
3. Sluggishness of Biglia
In our last outing against Hellas Verona, two individuals who epitomized out lackluster performance were Biglia and Ricardo Rodríguez. More often than not, these two looked out of sorts, were caught out and lacked concentration. Biglia’s inability to control the game as a regista might have been explained by the fact that he was fresh from injury, although it was needless to bench the impressive Bennacer. Lucas a was sluggish and he could be regaining his form but to beat an Inter side who sit top of the Serie A, it is important that he returns to his best tonight. Especially if we want to successfully build attacks and ward off Sensi, Brozović and co. Giampaolo will be critical here because if Biglia was not at his best in training during the week, then he should start Bennacer in his first derby which frankly sounds like a better option when we consider form as he’ll shield the back four much better and distribute the balls well.
Given our recent track record against our bitterest rivals, it will be a glorious site to behold if our charges win for a change. It is highly imperative for the issues highlighted above to be addressed to necessitate our victory. Inter’s outing this week in the UEFA Champions League is an added advantage to the boys as this translates to our players being more “fresh” from a week’s rest. In the words of Dida, “the players know they have to do everything to win”.