Arch-rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan will lock horns in this season’s first Derby Della Madonnina as San Siro awaits a fiery encounter this Saturday afternoon.

After a frenzied end to the transfer market, Serie A returns to action this weekend. While there are a lot of tasty fixtures, there is no match for the iconic advert of Italian football, the Milan derby, as reigning Serie A champions AC Milan host bitter foes Inter Milan at their shared San Siro home in a crunch showdown this Saturday, which already feels like being crucial in the Scudetto race.

A hostile setting is expected now that the bragging rights have moved from Inter to their city neighbours last season. Both Milan clubs went neck and neck for the title last term, with the Rossoneri just about edging Inter to take home their first Scudetto since 2010/11.

Although the defending champions have enjoyed a solid unbeaten start to the 2022-23 campaign, only two victories from a possible four, dropping points against Sassuolo and Atalanta was certainly not in the script for Stefano Pioli’s side, who would have been targeting a much better start to their title defence.

The Rossoneri currently sit sixth in the Serie A table, with eight points collected from their opening four games of the season. AC Milan failed to establish their rhythm in midweek, playing out an uninspiring 0-0 at Sassuolo. They only had two shots on goal and could have lost the game if it had not been for Mike Maignan’s brilliant first-half save from Domenico Berardi’s spot kick.

On the other hand, Inter have been impressive in the Italian top flight so far this season, with nine points on the board, only bettered by Jose Mourinho’s Roma and surprise table-toppers Atalanta, who both have ten.

The Nerazzurri have claimed three wins this season but were outclassed 3-1 by Lazio. They quickly bounced back from their loss at Lazio, though, with a comprehensive 3-1 victory against Cremonese on Tuesday. Joaquin Correa, Nicolo Barrella, and Lautaro Martinez all got on the scoresheet.

The last encounter between the two clubs took place in the Coppa Italia back in April this year, when Inter Milan won 3-0. AC Milan were severely outplayed on the day and knocked out of the competition. They now have a chance to get revenge this weekend. Ahead of what looks certain to be a thrilling clash between the two titans of world football, the Hard Tackle takes a look at both the Milan clubs.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

Both Divock Origi (inflammation) and Ante Rebic (back) were forced to miss the trip to Sassuolo on Tuesday night, but Milan boss Stefano Pioli has expressed optimism that both will be available for the first Derby Della Madonnina this weekend. Otherwise, Milan have no new injuries to report, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic still recovering from knee surgery earlier this summer.

Milan were actually one of the busiest Serie A sides on the deadline day. Sergino Dest has arrived from Barcelona on a season-long loan deal with an option to buy to provide cover in full-back positions. 19-year-old midfielder, Aster Vranckx, has also been snapped up from Wolfsburg in a similar type of no-risk deal.

After rotating his starting lineup heavily in the midweek, Pioli has the luxury to pick his strongest XI. Fresh from his penalty heroics against Sassuolo, Mike Maignan will be a calming presence in between the sticks for Milan. Pioli will revert back to his first-choice back-four of club captain Davide Calabria, Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori, and Theo Hernandez in front of the French goalkeeper.

Up ahead in midfield, Sandro Tonali and Ismael Bennacer could be reunited as the double pivot, with Tommaso Pobega dropping to the bench. The midfield battle is crucial in this game, as it could determine the game’s outcome.

Summer signing Charles De Ketelaere has been a creative spark in the early Milan fixtures this season and he is expected to reclaim his starting berth as the playmaker from Brahim Diaz.

Rafael Leao is a guaranteed starter on the left flank and Olivier Giroud up front, with the Frenchman having scored a match-winning brace in the last league clash. Despite looking a bit out-of-sorts this season, the duo still remains the biggest attacking threat for the hosts.

Meanwhile, it will be a straight battle between Junior Messias and Alexis Saelemaekers for a starting position on the right wing, but with the latter dropping a stinker against Sassuolo last time out, Messias will be the favoured pick.

Origi has proven to be an attacking force off the bench for Liverpool in Merseyside derbies against Everton in the past, but whether he can lay a glove on the Milan derby as well remains to be seen.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Hernandez, Tomori, Kalulu, Calabria; Tonali, Bennacer; Leao, De Ketelaere, Messias; Giroud

Inter Milan

Inter also did some deadline-day business of their own, signing 34-year-old central defender Francesco Acerbi from Lazio on a season-long loan deal with a buy option included.

Simone Inzaghi’s side completed most of their transfer dealings earlier in the window, with midfielders Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Kristjan Asllani, and goalkeeper André Onana all arriving through the door. Not to mention, Romelu Lukaku has returned on loan from Chelsea but is now expected to be sidelined for a month due to a hamstring problem.

Fortunately, Inter have the experienced Edin Dzeko to fill in for the Belgian up front. The dilemma for Inzaghi will be the Bosnian’s attack partner. Joaquin Correa got the call against Cremonese and performed well, scoring as well, but Lautaro Martinez responded to being dropped with a goal coming off the bench.

The Nerazzurri look set to start in their trademark 3-5-2 formation. Samir Handanovic is the sure starter in goal and will hold the fort behind the back three of Stefan de Vrij, Milan Skriniar, and Alessandro Bastoni.

Dumfries has made the right wing-back position in the Inter starting XI his own. Robins Gosens was linked with a late move to Bayer Leverkusen on the deadline day, but nothing materialized, the German will be another attacking presence down the left flank.

Marcelo Brozovic will be Inter’s anchor in the middle of the park, tasked with breaking off opponent attacks and orchestrating their attacking forays. Hakan Calhanoglu will be the creative force in attack, whereas Nicolo Barella will be an all-action presence in midfield with his unmatched industry and ability to suffocate his midfield counterparts with his press.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Bastoni, de Vrij, Skriniar; Gosens, Barella, Brozovic Calhanoglu, Dumfries; Dzeko, Martinez

Key Stats

  • AC Milan and Inter Milan have faced each other 232 times across all competitions, with Inter edging out with 85 derby wins. City-rivals Milan, on the other hand, have emerged victorious on 78 occasions.
  • AC Milan’s streak of 20 consecutive unbeaten league games (W13 D6) is the longest unbeaten run currently ongoing in Europe’s Top-5 leagues.
  • No team in Europe’s top-5 leagues has kept more clean sheets than Milan since the start of 2022 (14).
  • Inter have lost only one of their last six games against their city rivals (W3, D2).
  • Four of the last five league meetings between the two Milan giants have seen both teams find the back of the net.

Player to Watch

Lautaro Martinez

Martinez is a player who usually thrives on big occasions, especially Milan derbies. The Argentine attacker boasts an excellent record against Milan, notching up five goals and an assist from nine outings, including a brace in the last Milan derby.

 Embed from Getty Images

With Romelu Lukaku sidelined, Inter’s attacking play will be dependent on Martinez, who already has two goals this season and will be desperate to get on the scoresheet once again on a big platform here in order to prove that he belongs to the category of one of the world’s best strikers at the moment.

Prediction

AC Milan 1-2 Inter Milan

The current form suggests that the Nerazzurri will have a slight advantage over the opponents, who have yet to find their rhythm since the start of the new season. The visitors look even stronger in the middle of the pitch. So, it will be unsurprising to see them have the ball in their possession for the majority of the time against Milan.

While the hosts will have threatening moments or prime chances on turnovers, their front line has shown no signs of being prolific enough to concern Inter’s formidable backline, as demonstrated in their last game against Sassuolo, where they struggled to breach a relatively weak Neroverdi defence.

Inter also have a better squad than their city rivals, which is likely to prove decisive in Saturday’s Derby Della Madonnina with five substitutions in play. The Hard Tackle backs the Nerazzurri to dominate the game from the outset, with a 2-1 win the most likely outcome.

Leave A Comment...

*