San Siro, Milan
November 15, 2010 – 00:15 IST
One of the fiercest battles in Italian football will be fought at a sold out Giuseppe Meazza on Sunday as AC Milan will look forward to prove their superiority over Inter this season. Inter has dominated their city rivals off late by winning the last three local derbies. However, the scenario has turned over this time. AC Milan are at the summit by beating Palermo midweek and are the favourites to win as Inter looks vulnerable, mainly due to injuries.
Back in Time
The Milan football club gained popularity after winning the kings medal in the year 1900. Consecutively they won the national league title in 1901 which was very significant in the history of Italian football as it ended Genoa’s league winning streak. Milan later went on to win the league in 1906 followed by 1907. The very next year saw a dispute over signing of foreign players which led to a split in the club. That’s when the Internazionale came into being and was known as a capital owner’s team, while AC Milan was known as a laborer’s team. Over the years, Italian football witnessed many fiercely-fought derbies between the two clubs and hence this rivalry holds a lot of steam all over the country.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Max Allegri’s side have not looked convincing this season but have managed to get the results in their favour. They have seen themselves slip into tricky situations but have carved out a way to the top of the table. Gennaro Gattuso has to be given the credit for playing with a never say die attitude and the passion that he has instilled in the team has been magical. Milan will be without star striker Alexandre Pato who is out for atleast six weeks because of that famous Duck Hamstring. Super Pippo is out for the season after picking up a knee injury against Palermo in the midweek. Allegri will be banking on 4-3-1-2 for now and most likely will play Robinho alongside Ibrahimovic, with Seedorf playing as a trequartista.
Flamini has been a revelation for the Rossoneri in the midfield and Allegri must be kicking himself for not giving the Frenchman a chance earlier. Pirlo is likely to start ahead of him because of his experience, so is Ambrosini in place of Boateng; however, Milan will feel a lot secure with Flamini and the Prince on the bench as reinforcements when the old lads run out of gas. Rino has earned his place and will play a vital role in taking care of Sniejder.
Defence looks secure with Nesta and Thiaginho in the center and enough reinforcements to back them up in the form of Yepes and Sokratis. The Columbian in particular was delightful in his alliance with Thiago in Nesta’s absence. Allegri faces a dilemma of Experience vs Youth when he has to chose between Zambrotta and Abate at right-back. Abate has shown considerable improvement in his defensive skills and has done well with Rino tracking back to support him.
Probable Line-up: Abbiati; Zambrotta, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Antonini; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Seedorf, Robinho, Ibrahimovic.
Among other things, there is one person who is desperately being missed by the Nerazzurri – their erstwhile charismatic Portuguese manager. Ever since Jose Mourinho departed to Spain, the Italian champions have been lost in transition. It looks hard to believe that this is the same team that won the treble last season, as the Italian champions presently find themselves fourth in the league table. Of course there is not much that Rafa Benitez can do considering the number of injuries he has dealt with.
A season ending injury to Walter Samuel is a major blow for Inter and they are looking forward to Cordoba filling in his shoes, but the ageing Columbian might find it hard to deal with Milan’s attack. One of the major factors in the Nerazzuri’s triumph over the Rossoneri over the past few encounters had been Maicon. He has been a shadow of his former self as he has struggled with injuries and his absence from the derby will instil a sense of security in AC Milan. Though Inter has just conceded six goals in the season so far, the defence looks depleted and will rely on the midfield for support.
Sulley Muntari was expected to support the defence in Samuel’s absence but even he is out of the derby, and with Mariga and Motta still not fully fit everyone has been pointing fingers at Inter’s inactivity during the transfer window. Dutchman Wesley Sneijder has returned and will have to play a major role in this game if Inter are to have any realistic chance of winning this game.
Talking of shadows of the past, one name that comes to mind is Diego Milito. He has been in terrible shape this season and has continued to miss sitters. This has contributed to Inter scoring only 13 goals in 11 league games so far. Samuel Eto’o has been impeccable and he is the lone shining star in thick black clouds. Motivation will not be a problem for the Nerazzurri as a win against Milan will bring them level with the Rossoneri at the summit.
Probable Line-up: Julio Cesar; Cordoba, Lucio,Santon, Chivu; Zanetti, Stankovic, Obi, Sneijder, Eto’o, Milito.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Samuel Eto’o (Inter Milan): The Cameroon striker has been the lone man in command for the Nerazzuri this season. When the entire squad is being questioned, he is only one who has been in business and has kept his side in the league with a chance. Scoring 8 goals out of 11 for Inter, he shares the top scorers spot in the league. He posseses a great conversion rate and on his day, he can upset any backline.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic( AC Milan): This is the first time that the Swede will play against his former club in red and black colours. With 5 goals and 4 assists, he has been the best man upfront for Milan. He’ll be against a depleted Inter defence and this will be the best time for him to win a place in every Milan fan’s heart.
Inter Milan 1-2 AC milan
Milan has conceded 11 goals so far in the season. The defence has looked vulnerable even with the presence of Nesta and the Rossoneri have presented goals to their oppositions in almost every match. In all probability, Inter will score first. However, the passion with which the Rossoneri have performed thus far will see them going past their city rivals.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST