It’s that time of the year again, with Milan gearing up to take on Inter at the San Siro for the first derby of the season. This encounter, of course, will be very different as the stadium will be without the fans, who are responsible for having made the Derby Della Madonnina so special in the first place.
In addition, players are testing positive for COVID-19 left, right and centre, adding a completely new aspect for the managers to deal with. A player could be at your disposal one day and then unavailable the other. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, fortunately, has recovered from the virus and is ready to bounce back.
As said, the atmosphere will be completely different but the feeling is that this could be one of the toughest derbies to call in the last few years. Inter have come out on top for way too many times now and this is a trend that Milan want to break, and given their current form it’s certainly possible.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back in action, as already mentioned, and will be a key player for the Rossoneri on Saturday evening. He hasn’t played a game in over three weeks but was able to stay in shape during his quarantine at home, as he didn’t have any symptoms of the virus.
Ante Rebic, on the other hand, will miss out as he still hasn’t recovered from his elbow dislocation. Reports suggested that he could be back for the Europa League clash against Celtic on Thursday evening. In the meantime, Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao or Samu Castillejo will replace him on the left flank, with the latter ahead in the race.
Matteo Gabbia will miss the game as he tested positive for COVID-19, which means that Alessio Romagnoli will make his first appearance in three months. The captain was able to train with the first team during this week and is reportedly in good shape, although match fitness is completely different.
As for Inter, six players have tested positive for the virus and will miss the game: Alessandro Bastoni, Roberto Gagliardini, Milan Skriniar, Radja Nainggolan, Andrei Radu and Ashley Young. Despite this, Antonio Conte will be able to field a strong team to face Milan.
Milan likely XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Saelemaekers; Ibrahimovic.
Inter likely XI (3-5-2): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, de Vrij, Kolarov; Hakimi, Brozovic, Vidal, Barella, Perisic; Lukaku, Martinez.
- Inter have won their last four Serie A games against Milan: the Nerazzurri have only had a longer such streak in the Milan Derby between 1979 and 1983 (five wins in a row)
- Except for Atalanta (56), Milan (54) and Inter (47) are the two teams that have gained the most points in Serie A in 2020. In this period, the Rossoneri have conceded the fewest goals amongst the teams present in both seasons (22 goals).
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been involved in five goals in four Serie A derbies for Milan (four goals and one assist), all with Inter as the home side – he has lost three of those four matches against the Nerazzurri.
- Romelu Lukaku scored in both matches last season and they could become the first side to concede goal against the Belgian in three Serie A games
The derbies are notoriously hard to call and given the circumstances this time out, it’s even harder in my opinion. There’s just so much uncertainty surrounding both teams: will Milan continue their great form even against top sides and will the COVID-19 crisis ruin things for Inter? I’ll say a draw.
Inter 2-2 Milan
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