One of the biggest games of the Serie A calendar comes our way on Sunday night, as Inter Milan take on AC Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.

One of the oldest and grandest rivalries in European football will take centre stage at San Siro on Sunday, as Inter Milan go head to head against neighbours AC Milan in matchweek nine of the 2018-19 Serie A.

Inter come into the game on high spirits, having won all of their preceding six games in all competitions. Following their 2-1 win over SPAL prior to the international break, the Nerazzurri sit third on the Serie A table, having picked up 16 points from eight matches.

And manager Luciano Spalletti will be hoping that his men extend their winning run, with another victory against their arch-rivals this weekend.

AC Milan, on the other hand, occupy tenth spot in the standings with 12 points from seven matches this term. Gennaro Gattuso’s men will also be confident heading into the all-important derby, having not tasted defeat in their last eight matches in all competitions (W5 D3).

The Rossoneri’s most recent game ended in a 3-1 win over Chievo and they will be intent on bagging another win on Sunday to inch closer towards the Champions League qualifying spots in the table.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Midfielder Matias Vecino, who picked up an injury on international duty with Uruguay, is back to full fitness and will be available for selection for Sunday’s encounter. Full-back Sime Vrsaljko has also recovered fully, meaning Spalletti has no injury concerns ahead of the derby. However, there could be a few changes in the team, with a Champions League encounter against Barcelona up next.

Inter will set out in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Samir Handanovic between the sticks. While Vrsaljko might be fit, the manager could opt to rest him with the Barcelona match in mind, meaning Danilo D’Ambrosio starts at right-back, with Kwadwo Asamoah at left-back. Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij will pair up in the heart of the defence.

Croatian international Marcelo Brozovic should occupy one of the two pivot positions in the middle of the park, while Vecino is likely to be held back by Spalletti ahead of the European encounter, meaning Roberto Gagliardini, who is not registered in Inter’s Champions League squad, could get the nod instead.

Radja Nainggolan will occupy the No. 10 slot for the Nerazzurri and look to impact the proceedings in the final third. Threat from the wide areas will come from Matteo Politano and Ivan Perisic on the right and left sides respectively, while captain Mauro Icardi will spearhead the attack for Inter.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, de Vrij, Asamoah; Gagliardini, Brozovic; Politano, Nainggolan, Perisic; Icardi;

AC Milan

Full-back Ivan Strinic is a long-term absentee for the Rossoneri having picked up an injury very early in the season, while experienced midfielder Riccardo Montolivo is also not in the 24-man squad that Gattuso has named ahead of the game.

The former Milan midfielder will set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation on Sunday night. Gianluigi Donnarumma should start under the crossbar, shielded by a back four comprising of Davide Calabria and Ricardo Rodriguez as the full-backs, with Mateo Musacchio and captain Alessio Romagnoli in the centre of the backline.

Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia will start as the deepest of the three midfielders for Milan and look to screen his defence, while trying to spring attacks with his range of distribution. Support in the middle will be provided by the energetic Franck Kessie and Giacomo Bonaventura, both of whom will have the license to bomb forward at every given opportunity.

Suso has been the catalyst in Milan’s recent strong performances and is a definite starter on the right side of the attacking trident on Sunday. On the opposite wing, it will be Turkish playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu, who hasn’t been all that consistent this term. Star striker Gonzalo Higuain, who has four goals in Serie A, will likely lead the line for the Rossoneri.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Higuain, Calhanoglu

Key Stats

  • Five of the last eight Derby della Madonninas have ended in draws, with Inter winning two and AC Milan picking up one victory.
  • Inter are undefeated in their last 7 home matches against AC Milan in all competitions.
  • AC Milan are unbeaten in six consecutive games in the Serie A and eight matches across all competitions.
  • Inter Milan have picked up three points in four matches in a row in the Italian top-flight, heading into the derby.
  • The Nerazzurri are on a six-match winning streak in all competitions, ahead of Sunday’s encounter. The last time they won seven matches in a row was in January 2017.

Player to Watch

Suso

Milan's man in form (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Milan’s man in form (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old Spanish playmaker has been in fine form in recent weeks for Milan and has easily been their best player on the pitch, along with Higuain. Suso, so far in the 2018-19 campaign, has scored twice and registered six assists in 7 Serie A matches – the most assists by any player in the competition.

Suso shone for Spain during the international break, as he played an integral role in La Roja’s 4-1 victory over Wales in a friendly last week. The former Liverpool man has struck up a wonderful partnership with Higuain at the top and has been the driving force behind the recent run of good results for the team. Expect him to rise to the occasion against Inter.

Prediction

Inter Milan 1-1 AC Milan

It promises to be an intense, closely-fought contest between the neighbours on Sunday night. Both the clubs have been on a good run of form ahead of the derby with Inter winning six in a row and AC Milan unbeaten in eight matches on a trot.

Inter are likely to rotate their players, with a game against Barcelona on the horizon but still possess enough quality to cause problems to their arch-rivals. The Rossoneri, on the other hand, will field their strongest XI, with their European assignment not until Thursday night, which offers the players enough time to recover.

The fact that five of the last eight derby encounters have ended in draws indicates that there is not much to pick between the two teams. And as a result, we at The Hard Tackle, predict the upcoming Derby della Madonnina to once again end in a stalemate.

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