On the eve of the prestigious Derby Della Madonnina, which will be the biggest one in several years, the nerves are inevitably starting to creep in. With both Milan and Inter fighting at the top of the standings, it will be a game for first place and this hasn’t been the case for a long time.
The Nerazzurri are considered the favourites as their city rivals have struggled a bit as of late, also losing the derby clash in the Coppa Italia. However, derbies are notoriously hard to predict and as we have seen in the past, the underdogs can get pretty good results out of this fixture.
Milan, of course, won the reverse fixture by two goals to one and will be looking to make it 2/2. It would certainly be a huge confidence boost for them, not only because of the situation in the standings, but also because it would showcase great strength after what has been a somewhat tough period.
Milan have a few players on the injury list, most notably Ismael Bennacer who picked up an injury in the game against Red Star Belgrade on Thursday. Although it wasn’t reported until today, Mario Mandzukic also had a minor muscle issue and will miss the game.
Other than that, though, Pioli has the full squad at his disposal and will be able to field a strong XI against Inter tomorrow. According to Gazzetta Dello Sport, there will be a total of seven changes compared to the game mid-week, which is understandable since the manager rested several key players then.
Davide Calabria and Simon Kjaer will both be back in defence, while Franck Kessie and Sandro Tonali will form the midfield tandem. It’s a big opportunity for the latter to show that he can run the show while Bennacer is away, especially in the build-up phase where the Algerian is so important.
Ante Rebic won the battle with Rafael Leao and will start on the left-wing, forming the attacking trio along with Alexis Saelemaekers and Hakan Calhanoglu. Up front, of course, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start and he will surely be out for revenge after the sending off last time out.
As for Inter, they don’t have any injury struggles apart from Stefano Sensi, who wouldn’t have started the game anyway. Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku will be the two key players up front while Nicolo Barella will have an important role as the box-to-box midfielder in the 3-5-2 formation.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo; Kessie, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Rebic; Ibrahimovic.
Probable Inter XI (4-3-3): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Eriksen, Perisic; Lukaku, Martinez.
- AC Milan could win both encounters in a single Serie A season against Inter for the second time over the last 15 years, last doing so back in 2010/11, when they won 1-0 in the first game and 3-0 in the second.
- AC Milan and Inter will meet in a Serie A game while holding the top two positions in the table for the first time since April 2011 when the Rossoneri won 3-0 – the season of their last title win in the top flight.
- Inter are the fourth side over the last 60 seasons to score 54+ goals after 22 Serie A matches, after Juventus in 2013/14 (54), Lazio in 2017/18 (57) and Atalanta in 2019/20 (59).
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 10 goals in all competitions in Milan derbies, including eight with AC Milan.
- Inter’s Romelu Lukaku could become the first player since Romeo Bonetti (1972/73) to score in four consecutive Milan derbies in Serie A.
As said earlier, it’s very hard to predict who will win the derby, even though Inter are the favourites for this one. Both teams have very good squads and it’s clear that the outcome of the game will be determined by individual performances, such as the goalscoring battle between Ibrahimovic and Lukaku.
The feeling, however, is that a draw would be a good result for Milan. Of course, the goal is always to win and three points from tomorrow’s clash would be massive, but there’s probably a reason the Nerazzurri are considered favourites by most outlets. Therefore, I’ll say a draw.
AC Milan 1-1 Inter