Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan
Sunday, December 23, 19:45 Hrs GMT
Inter under Mazzarri has been a rejuvenated squad, denoted by the upswing in their fortunes as well as their strong performance on the field. Although their current form suggests otherwise, Inter are doing everything to break in the top three and will surely look to heap more misery on their cross-city rivals this weekend. Although the Derby has lost much of its sheen in the recent years, an Inter vs Milan match still attracts a world-wide audience.
AC Milan will be looking to get their season back on track when they welcome Inter at home this weekend. Lying tenth in the Serie A table, their season can only get worse if they continue to lose any more games from now till the end of the season. With the second half of the season coming soon and the January transfer window about to open, things are about to get exciting at Milan.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Inter will be missing the likes of Chivu, Milito, Mariga and Samuel through injury and Alvarez through suspension. Ideally, in the absence of Alvarez, Guarin is supposed to fall into midfield while Kovacic is more likely to play as the advanced central attacking midfielder. However, there is certainly an advantage of playing Guarin on top with Kovacic in the midfield – Kovacic clearly favors a short passing game and although his passing success rate is pretty high, he is not at all a regular creative player – someone like Guarin. This particular selection is surely not going to be fixed just minutes before kick-off and will surely keep Inter fans on their toes. Inter ultras do have a reason to rejoice, as their appeal to revoke a ban on Curva Nord has been repealed.
Inter are known to be very strong in finishing as well as creating chances, more by their individual skill. They are known to prefer attacking down the wings and also creating chances via through ball situations. However, they are weak in stopping counter attacks and as the last few matches have shown – Inter do have a problem at the back. In their previous match only, they shipped in as many as 4 goals against Napoli.
Inter will deploy a 3-5-1-1 formation with Handanovic playing between the bars. The three-man back-line is formed by Campagnaro on the right, Juan Jesus on the left with Ranocchia playing through the center. The midfield sees the likes of Jonathan and Taider playing on the right, Kovacic and Nagatomo playing on the left with Cambiasso playing through the center of the field. The absence of Alvarez had thrown up a host of questions for Mazzarri and he is most likely to opt for a straight swap between Alvarez and Kovacic. The forward line sees the likes of Guarin playing just behind the top striker, Palacio.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-1-1): Handanovic(GK); Campagnaro, Ranocchia, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Taider, Cambiasso, Kovacic, Nagatomo; Guarin; Palacio
Milan will be missing the likes of Amelia, Silvestre, Robinho, El Shaarawy, Birsa, Abate and Emanuelson through injury and Montolivo due to suspension. El Shaarawy was this close to returning to top tier action when he re-injured himself in the same region as his original injury. Pazzini has been training with the first team for some time now, and although he is on the bench for this weekend, he is unlikely to see any action anytime soon. It seems that the injury lists only keeps on growing with time, which is certainly a cause for concern. Milan now have as many as 31 players for the first team, but they only have a handful of players who can play for the first team.
Milan have been hampered not only by injuries, but also by the off-field antics going on for quite some time now. Although Galliani’s influence at Milan has diminished by quite a bit, he is now sharing the CEO spot with Barbara Berlusconi, with both looking after different sections of the club. While Barbara is looking into the corporate section of Milan, Galliani will look after the sporting side. With the transfer window almost upon us, Galliani will once more get down to business pretty soon. Already two players are scheduled to join in January – Honda and Rami – with both being brought in as reinforcements for attack and defence respectively.
Allegri will field a 4-3-1-2 formation with Abbiati under the bars. The back-line will be formed by De Sciglio on the right, Constant on the left with Bonera and Zapata forming the central defensive pair. With D’Ambrosio about to join in January and with Rami coming in, Allegri will have a happy problem on his hands. The midfield will see the likes of Poli on the right, Muntari on the left with De Jong playing as the central midfield role in the absence of Montolivo.
Kaka will play as trequartista for this match while the forward line will see the pairing of Matri and Balotelli. Balotelli has been back among the goals and it is one sign every Milan fan is hoping will lead to further goals and expectantly, further glory. Matri has a chance to silence his critics in this match, and prove once more that his 11 million Euro move was a justified.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2): Abbiati(GK); De Sciglio, Bonera, Zapata, Constant; Poli, De Jong, Muntari; Kaka; Balotelli, Matri
Player to Watch Out For
Although Kaka’s return has not started the renaissance at Milan as was expected, he is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the key players in the current line-up and going by his present form, probably the best player in the Milan side, which is clearly bereft of any real attacking talents in the absence of the injured strikers and a misfiring and temperamental Balotelli. So far, he has scored three goals and is on the constant lookout for his fourth, which will be his hundredth for Milan. More importantly for him, Brazil coach Scolari will be in the stands watching him and Kaka will be more than eager to impress him so as to earn a recall in the Brazil squad for next year’s World Cup.
Inter 1 – 1 Milan
Both Inter and Milan have had a difficult run of late and although both teams will be looking to earn all three points, which will benefit both the teams greatly. If Inter wins, they will be able to close the gap at the top, while if Milan wins, they will be able to prove that they might be a force to reckon with come the Christmas break – just like last year. However, a stalemate is more likely on the cards, rather than an outright victory.