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Serie A: Milan Derby is Inter’s Big Test

Inter Milan vs AC Milan

They say that form often goes out of the window in derby games. Well, Inter Milan fans will hope the league table points to a clear outcome in this weekend’s Milan clash.

19 points separate Inter from AC Milan. I Nerazzurri are chasing Juventus at the top of Serie A, three points behind I Bianconeri. Meanwhile, Stefano Pioli’s Milan are battling for a Europa League spot, with the top four places probably too far away.

The San Siro will be packed to the rafters with the red half of Milan dearly hoping their side, the underdogs, can give Inter a bloody nose and put a serious dent in their title aspirations. 

Anything other than a win for Inter in this epic clash, and Antonio Conte’s side can start to say goodbye to their title hopes. They left it too late to qualify for the Champions League Round of 16 so domestic glory is the big prize.

 

Talking Points

Martinez out, Eriksen in?

Much of Inter’s success this season is thanks to the dynamic partnership forged by twin strikers Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez. Lukaku was an inspired buy at the start of the season and the powerful Belgian forward has bagged 16 goals, including a brace in a 0-2 win over Udinese last week. His goals fired Inter to the top of the table.

Young Argentine hitman Martinez has 11 goals, but he won’t be by Lukaku’s side in the Milan derby. Martinez was red-carded at the end of a bad-tempered draw with Cagliari and copped a two-match ban. It probably would have been a single match had he not continued to berate the referee after he had received his marching orders.

Sebastian Esposito got the nod against Udinese but ex-Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez is also competing for a starting place in the derby.

Christian Eriksen makes his Serie A debut against Udinese
                               Inter Milan’s Christian Eriksen controls the ball during an Italian Cup quarter-finals soccer match against Fiorentina

Conte has raided the Premier League again, with a £16.9m swoop for Spurs midfield ace Christian Eriksen. The Danish wizard has been one of the best players in the English league for four seasons, but he wants to win silverware and believes Milan is the place to succeed. He says: “There’s a big chance of winning a trophy here or a bigger chance than where I was of course. The last time I won anything was at Ajax so it’s many years ago.”

Eriksen has been joined by wing-back Ashley Young, who Conte lured from Manchester United, and he too made a start against Udinese. The boss is packing his side with ex-Premier League battlers. The Serie A 2020 results from Saturday will tell Inter exactly what they need to do. Juventus are away to Verona and if they win, I Nerazzurri will need to show a lot of bottle to pass the Milan derby test.

 

Hit and miss Milan

Inconsistency has dogged Milan’s season, though they do come into this game on a decent run of form. I Rossoneri are yet to draw away from home, winning six and losing five, but whether they have the firepower to match Inter is very doubtful.

Top scorer Kryztstof Piatek has completed a 27m Euro move from Milan to Hertha Berlin and that’s a big loss to Pioli. The Poland international scored 16 goals in 41 games for Milan, so the workload upfront now falls on the shoulders of Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic.

I Rossoneri has plenty of quality running through the team with Italy keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal and Captain Alessio Romagnoli in the heart of defence. The experience of ‘Mr Milan’ Giacomo Bonaventura could be vital in the hotbed of the San Siro, while wide man Hakan Calhangolu also provides a goal threat; he was on target in a 1-1 draw with Verona last week.

 

Enter the son of a legend…

But one brief appearance got the Milan pulses racing more than any other last week. 18-year-old Daniel Maldini, the son of Rossoneri great Paolo, made his debut at the end of the match with Verona.

If young Daniel turns out to be half the player his dad was, then Milan have another gem.

 

History

The head-to-heads have been closely fought. Inter have won 24 to Milan’s 21 and there have been 17 draws in the 62 matches played since 1993

Conte’s team won 0-2 in the September derby early in the season, as Lukaku added a late headed goal to Marcelo Brozovic’s opener

Both teams come into the game in good form. Inter have won three and drawn three of the last six, while Milan won five before drawing 1-1 with Verona last week.

 

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