Inter face off with arch-rivals AC Milan this Sunday, in what promises to be one of the most exciting Milan derbies in a long time. The duo will face off at San Siro under Chinese ownership for the second time, with Inter the nominal hosts.
The Nerazzuri have made an encouraging start to the season under new manager Lucanio Spalletti, and will be looking to continue that on Sunday, but Milan have looked far less assured, and after the 2-0 loss to Roma at home before the international break, manager Vincenzo Montella is under considerable pressure.
The abundance of new faces to integrate has been a problem for the Italian, and he will be hoping the international break will have helped them to refresh so they can kickstart their season with a derby win.
Both harbour genuine hopes of emerging from the depths to challenge again this season, with Champions League football imperative for both clubs after being absent for far too long. It promises to be an intoxicating encounter.
With such a rich history, there have been so many classic games between these two over the years.
From the infamous Champions League clash in 2005, called off when flares rained down on the San Siro pitch from Inter fans after a disallowed goal, one striking Milan keeper Dida, all the way to the pulsating 2-2 draw from last April – this fixture has had everything.
However, a game that particularly resonates is Inter’s famous 4-3 win in 2006.
The action was played at a breakneck speed, as Inter raced to a three-goal lead thanks to goals from Hernan Crespo, Dejan Stankovic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic before Clarence Seedorf replied. Materazzi then made it 4-1 as Alberto Gilardino and Kaka added late consolations.
Not only was this a spectacular game, it was also one of the most star-studded and anticipated in history. AC Milan boasted a fierce back line with Cafu and Nesta, as well Kaka in his prime and Pirlo behind him.
Meanwhile Inter had an equally fearsome team; Javier Zanetti and Ivan Cordoba at the back, Patrick Viera in midfield and Ibrahimovic up front. An unbelievable collection of talent all round, summoning up extreme nostalgia for the glory days of Italian football.
Inter are second in Serie A after an unbeaten start that has seen them pick up 19 points from a possible 21. While they haven’t been blowing teams away, and Spalletti is still experimenting with his team, they have been still been able to get the results to back it up.
AC Milan have had a far more hesitant start to the season; seventh in the league table, having lost three of their seven games in Serie A. Their vast set of new players have had indifferent starts to life in Milan, and coach Montella will be hoping Sunday’s derby can coax them into life.
Inter playmaker Marcelo Brozovic picked up an injury during the international break with Croatia and won’t be fit in time for Sunday.
For Milan, recent Turkish signing Hakan Calhanoglu will miss out through suspension after his red card against Roma, and Andrea Conti and Luca Antonelli both remain absent with injury.
Defender Mateo Musacchio picked up a knock in training, but is still expected to start for the Rossoneri.
Predicted Inter XI: Handanovic, Nagatomo, Miranda, Škriniar, D’ambrosio, Vecino, Valero, Candreva, Joâo Mario, Perišić, Icardi.
Predicted AC Milan XI: Donnarumma, Romagnoli, Bonucci, Musacchio, Abate, Suso, Kessié, Biglia, Rodríguez, Silva, Kalinić.
There is no doubt that home team Inter are favourites going in, but form is usually irrelevant on occasions such as these. If Milan can win the midfield battle, and 20-year-old Franck Kessié can impose himself on the game, then they have a definite chance.
However, with new signings still acclimatising, and coming up against a settled Inter side that possesses a lot of firepower, you fear for the Rossoneri.
Prediction: Inter 2-1 AC Milan
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