8 confirmed absentees for Milan derby

The Derby della Madonnina, otherwise known as the Milan Derby, is scheduled for Saturday evening as domestic football is set to return after the international break.

One of the biggest fixtures on the Italian football calendar, both Milan clubs have made a good start to the 2020-21 campaign - Stefano Pioli’s side joint top of Serie A with a maximum nine points, whilst Inter have only dropped points in their 1-1 draw away to Lazio.

However, both clubs have been hit with positive tests for COVID-19 over the past couple of days. Although it is understood that a postponement of the fixture is not at threat currently, neither club will want to lose any more players between now and the weekend.

AC Milan will be without Matteo Gabbia for the next two weeks after the centre-back tested positive whilst away with the Italian under-21 side. The 20-year-old had started all three league games this season, as Milan have yet to concede a single goal at the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign.

Leo Duarte is the only player who will be missing for Piole’s side this weekend due to self-isolation. Whilst the Brazilian has played just 18 minutes of football this season in one substitute appearance, he could have been a straight swap for Gabbia.

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Inter drop points as clean sheet eludes Conte’s side again

Internazionale were pegged back to a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday as both sides were reduced to 10 men.

In a first half of few chances, Lautaro Martinez gave Antonio Conte’s side the lead on half hour with his low finish squeezing beneath Thomas Strakosha.

These two sides had the best defensive records in Serie A last term and didn’t give each other much room in front of goal in the first half. However, Romelu Lukaku spurned a decent chance shortly after half-time as he fired wide of the post from 18 yards after strike partner Martinez had played him in.

Inter were made to pay as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic beat Ivan Perisic at the back post to head home a cross from deep to make it 1-1. Conte’s side have now shipped six goals in their opening three games this season, though this is the first time they have dropped points.

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Is the Scudetto realistic for Inter this season?

Internazionale have spent big again this summer, so far bringing in the likes of Achraf Hakimi (€40m), Nicolo Barella (€25m), Stefano Sensi (€20m) and Arturo Vidal as they look to challenge Juventus for the Serie A title.

Antonio Conte’s side made an exciting start to the 2020-21 campaign on Saturday with a dramatic 4-3 victory at home to Fiorentina, with goals in the 87th and 89th minutes, from Romelu Lukaku and Danilo D’Ambrosio respectively.

Their participation in the Europa League final last month saw them given an additional week’s rest so they are a game behind the majority of the league, though Atalanta and Lazio were also given an extra week to prepare, as well as each of their scheduled opponents.

Three points for I Nerazzurri will have come to much relief given that Fiorentina already had a competitive game under their belt – a 1-0 win over Torino the prior weekend.

In a further boost to Inter’s hopes of winning the Scudetto for the first time since 2010, reigning champions Juventus were held to a 2-2 draw away to AS Roma on Sunday. Andrea Pirlo’s side were reduced to 10 men early in the second half.

Given a rookie manage in charge, many are expecting the 2020-21 Serie A title race to be open this campaign, the first time in several years. Napoli and AC Milan have both made impressive starts themselves, taking six points from six.

Inter’s hopes of sustaining a title challenge this season has all the ingredients they need, especially if they keep hold of star striker Lautaro Martinez, amid strong interest from Barcelona.

The Argentine has formed a great partnership with Romelu Lukaku up front, with the pair scoring 37 league goals between them last campaign.

Behind them, Conte has a wealth of talent to pick from. He went with Ashley Young, Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Perisic and Christian Eriksen in his 3-5-2 formation for his season opener, with Achraf Hakimi, Alexis Sanchez, Stefano Sensi, Arturo Vidal and Radja Nainggolan all coming off the bench.

Behind them is a talented defence of Stefan de Vrij, Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni, backed up by the reliable Samir handanovic.

The manager himself knows all about success. Antonio Conte started Juventus’ current run of titles during his first season in charge back in 2011-12, winning all three during his time in Turin before taking over the Italian national team. Conte won the English Premier League title in his first attempt at Chelsea too.

Whilst Juventus have dominated the league for the past nine seasons they have taken a huge risk with the appointment of inexperienced manager Pirlo, regardless of how good he was as a player himself.

The Old Lady’s main ambition is also to win the Champions League, which could have a negative impact on their domestic campaign, particularly with how competitive it is getting at the top now.

If ever there was a season for Inter Milan fans to head into confidently, it has to be this one. With the manager and players at their disposal they have the makings of being 2020-21 Serie A champions.

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