With neither team in particularly high spirits coming into the clash, a typically low-scoring Derby della Madonnina at the San Siro is expected on Sunday.

Inter Milan will be looking to bounce back from Wednesday’s 3-0 Coppa Italia humbling against Juventus when they take on AC Milan in Sunday’s Derby della Madonnina. Roberto Mancini’s men have won just two of their last seven fixtures in all competitions and are under pressure to perform after a solid start to the season.

Meanwhile, AC Milan secured a narrow 1-0 win over Lega Pro outfit Alessandria in midweek and will be looking to continue their winning run with a victory over their arch-rivals. The hosts have played out 1-1 draws in each of their last two league fixtures and are desperate to get their form back with 17 games remaining this season. It is probably fair to say that neither side will be too happy about the timing of this derby game, with each looking low on confidence as they prepare for the showpiece encounter.

Despite their victory, few were impressed that it took a Mario Balotelli penalty for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s team to find their way past third tier opposition in midweek. Similarly, the Nerazzurri’s emphatic defeat in Turin only served to compound the feeling that they are still some way off challenging the holders for this year’s Scudetto.

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After a strong start to the campaign, Mancini’s team appear to have run out of inspiration recently, scoring just six goals in their last seven matches to pick up a mere two wins in that period. With both teams struggling for confidence at the moment, another typically tense derby encounter looks set to be added to the last seven meetings, which have produced just eight goals in total.

Siniša Mihajlović v Roberto Mancini

Mihajlovic and Mancini are like brothers and whatever happens in Sunday’s Madonnina, that won’t change. They grew up together as players and as coaches.The competing bosses are like brothers, but they wont settle for anything less than a win when the two recovering giants lock horns at San Siro. Born leaders, their ferocious will to win has always made them stand out.

Atmosphere in the club is not helping Mihajlovic at all

Roma vs Milan

Sinisa Mihajlovic has had a rough ride since taking over at AC Milan this summer. If reports were to be believed then the Serbian was close to a sack and only a comfortable victory over his former club Fiorentina saved his job. Silvio Berlusconi expected instant results after spending €90m in the summer with unrealistic targets like Scudetto challenge being mentioned.

The improvement has been slow and steady but it is nowhere what Berlusconi had been expecting. But circumstances have not helped Mihajlovic either. Jeremy Menez has missed the majority of the season with an injury while apart from Gigi Donnarumma, Giacomo Bonaventura, Carlos Bacca and Alessio Romagnoli the rest of the squad is mediocre to say the least.

Mihajlovic does not have the players to field his preferred formation 4-3-1-2. The performances of Ricardo Saponara, M’baye Niang and Suso away from AC Milan raise serious doubts about the stability of the environment for the players to thrive positively.

The pressure is huge and the management have not moved on from glories of the past. Mihajlovic has himself tried many modules from the start of the campaign. Starting from a 4-3-1-2 to 4-3-3 and now to a 4-4-2 it seems that AC Milan have finally settled on this system where only Keisuke Honda is playing out of his position.

Mihajlovic deserves a lot of credit for promoting teenage sensation Donnaruuma while he has made it clear he prefers the passing style of Montolivo over the industry of Nigel De Jong. Niang is the first choice to partner Carlos Bacca upfront after returning from injury. Since Donnarumma’s emergence, AC Milan’s record in all competitions is won 11, drawn 4, lost 2 – one of the defeats was away to Juventus, the other to Bologna, a game that could have gone either way.

Width will be the key for Mancini against AC Milan

Inter Milan vs Sassiuolo

Roberto Mancini will most likely go with his favoured 4-3-3 formation for the derby although the midweek defeat against Juventus might force him to think otherwise. Still unable to field his preferred 4-2-3-1 module, the Italian manager has plenty to worry ahead of this crucial tie.

His strikers are misfiring and Mancini has been pretty vocal about it. The lack of service for Icardi is another big concern and maybe Eder can make an impact on his debut for the Nerazzurri. Mancini would like his side to play an expansive brand of football but the morale of the team has sunk to an all time low this season following their humbling defeat at the Juventus stadium. Carpi punished them last Sunday which left them with five points in the last five games. This is a decisive juncture of the season and Mancini knows the importance of the derby.

Inter Milan were too narrow and clueless against Juventus on Wednesday while the rock-solid defence which bailed them out earlier this season has started to look shaky. Only Samir Handanovic has been performing consistently along with Brazilian defender Miranda.

Mancini might discard the pragmatic approach for this game and go all out for a win to lift the morale of a depleted squad. Inter Milan have struggled to play their own game since the start of the year but this is the ideal match to kick-start their season. The composure at the back had previously allowed Mancini’s men to build the play without panic. Maybe Mancini will do well to sort out his defence which might be the first step to their recovery.

Key Battles

Carlos Bacca vs Samir Handanović

AC Milan vs Carpi FC

Despite being provided limited service on most days, Carlos Bacca has the ability to make the most of the chances that do come his way and has been instrumental for the Rossoneri, despite the constant changing of strike partners this season.

The campaign began with Mihajlovic opting to field a 4-3-1-2 formation with Bacca playing up front with Luiz Adriano, and the South Americans looked set to be the starters for months to come. However a switch to the 4-4-2 saw Niang brought in at the expense of the Brazilian, with the Frenchman’s versatility and skill on the flank providing the Colombian with room to operate in.

January could bring about more change, as Mario Balotelli has already returned and Jeremy Menez is expected to do so by the end of the month, meaning a 4-3-1-2 could be chosen by Mihajlovic to make the most of the quality at his disposal.What remains constant is Bacca’s role, as the Colombian will always remain the first name on the team sheet.

Much of Inter Milan’s success this season is tied to the form of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, who has made some stunning interventions in most of the games this season. Roberto Mancini named the Slovenian as his only automatic starter and will likely keep his star man for the near future too, as the player and club recently came to terms on a new contract till 2019.

His form rivals some of the best shot-stoppers in Europe including Jan Oblak of Atletico Madrid, Claudio Bravo of FC Barcelona, Vincent Enyeama of Lille, and even Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich. Mancini will look to the club’s impressive leader to keep AC Milan at bay on Sunday.

Alessio Romagnoli vs Mauro Icardi

Inter-Frosinone

The Rossoneri’s big-money signing took some time to adapt but has finally started looking like the €25 million-rated defender they purchased. The 20-year-old defender completed his €25 million switch from Roma in the summer, taking over Rossoneri legend Alessandro Nesta’s famed No.13 upon arriving at the San Siro.

When he has been available Rossoneri coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has always started him. AC Milan now prepare for their derby match against Inter Milan with a Romagnoli who has showcased the defensive efficiency and elegance all had come to expect of him.

Roberto Mancini must solve the puzzle of the Inter Milan strike force. The Nerazzurri’s favourite scoreline has been 1-0 this season with the Milan giants netting just once in 16 of their 21 Serie A matches thus far. More specifically it is the pairing of Stevan Jovetic and Mauro Icardi which Mancini must take a closer look at, as the duo have yet to develop anything remotely close to an understanding on the pitch. Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi must do more for his team and is offering little movement on the pitch. He becomes anonymous too often and has to take a lead role in this crucial derby.

Miranda vs Giacomo Bonaventura

Inter Milan vs Fiorentina

Bonaventura has become a pillar of consistency for the Rossoneri this season. Not only is he creative, but he gets himself into scoring positions, not something every midfielder can do. While the Rossoneri have wilted time after time this season, Jack has consistently shown courage and commitment. During the dark times, Bonaventura has refused to give in. He has been the team’s leader and talisman.

The man with a cool head on his shoulders, Miranda has been Inter Milan‘s standout defender. The Brazilian also serves as a mentor to Jeison Murillo, as the two lead the best defence in Serie A for the league leaders. Miranda is one of the best defenders the league has to offer.

He clearly stands out as the undisputed leader in the Nerazzurri backline. While there are still 17 matches to play in the 2015/16 campaign, Inter Milan will certainly be hoping Miranda can lead them, and the defence, to success come May.

AC Milan strengths and weaknesses

AC Milan - ACF Fiorentina

 

  • Defending from set-pieces will be once again a source of major concern for the Rossoneri.
  • The form of Carlos Bacca gives AC Milan more than a glimmer of hope in this crucial fixture.
  • The confusion surrounding the futures of both Niang and Luis Adriano is one problem which could and should have been avoided before such a big match.

Inter Milan AC Milan strengths and weaknesses

Internazionale Milano vs Carpi FC

  • Roberto Mancini knows the lack of goals is the biggest problem facing his side. Captain and top scorer of last season Mauro Icardi needs to come out of his rough patch.
  • New signing Eder will make an appearance from the bench and he might be the right man to guide Inter Milan in this hour of crisis.
  • The rock-solid defence which laid foundation to such a strong start has looked really shaky in 2016. Mancini needs to fix it as early as possible. Conceding late goals have really hurt the Nerazzurri.

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