After a tumultuous start to the season, Inter jump back into the fire with the derby della Madonnina coming right after a long and eventful week of internationals and Covid-19 infections. Match tomorrow Saturday at 18:00 CET.
Inter and Antonio Conte have had a week inundated with COVID-19 positive tests, 6 players to be exact were deemed to have contracted the virus and so are at risk of missing the game altogether. This news during a particularly grueling internationals week hardly creates the optimal atmosphere for derby preparations.
There are a view saving graces; Inter’s corona outbreak has largely left the midfield and attack unharmed, and so Conte will be able to pick and chose his offensive line as he desires.
As a matter of fact, Christian Eriksen’s fantastic form with Denmark gives Conte an added selection headache in choosing between the Dane and the often dependable Marcelo Brozovic in the center of the midfield.
Much has been made of the potential battle between the two speedy wide-men Achraf Hakimi and Theo Hernandez, with the two starlets lining up against each other on the same flank.
However, one must not forget that on the other flank, Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martinez will be coming up against a slower defensive pair of Davide Calabria and Simon Kjaer which might prove a more effective avenue for attack.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in the side, Milan will have the target man who can release the trio of supporting attackers of Rafael Leao, Hakan Calhanoglu and Alexis Saelemaekers who will try and make quick runs between the Inter defensive trio.
Inter midfield unit of Nicolo Barella, Arturo Vidal and (most likely) Marcelo Brozovic will be required to work overtime to cover the spaces in their defensive third and support the attack when required.
This will be a tightly contested match where desire, output and concentration might prove more decisive than skill and ability.
It has been a pretty bleak week of news coming out of Appiano. Starting with the confirmation of Stefano Sensi’s ridiculous suspension and culminating with the COVID-19 infections to six of the players.
The silver lining has been that no internationals appear to have been injured during their national team duties. Another potential piece of good news is the potential availability of Alessandro Bastoni who is one negative test away from rejoining the team training.
Probable line-up (3-5-2): Handanovic (C); Bastoni, De Vrij, D’Ambrosio; Perisic, Vidal, Brozovic, Barella, Hakimi; Lautaro, Lukaku.
Last Season: Inter 4 – 2 Milan.
Last 10 Head to Head: Inter hold a clear advantage over their city-rivals over the last ten league encounters with seven wins to Milan’s solitary victory back in January of 2016.
Almost as remarkable is the fact that the last time Milan managed to beat Inter in their “home game” was almost a decade ago in November of 2011.
Keep an Eye on
Romelu Lukaku: Big Rom has started the season pretty much where he left off; in top form. Over the international break he managed to score three goals for his country and will be going into the match hungry for even more.
Lukaku has transformed into a talismanic presence for the Nerazzurri since his arrival last year, and these are the sort of games where scoring will continue building his legacy and lore in black and blue.
Referee: Maurizio Mariani.
Assistants: Costanzo and Bindoni.
Fourth Official: Maresca.
VAR: Irrati and Carbone.
Prediction & Concluding Remarks
Prediction & scorers: Inter 2 – 1 Milan. Lautaro and Lukaku to score.
Concluding remarks: Unlike in the previous three matches, Conte will not have the full depth of his squad to rely on to make in-match adjustments, meaning that the hosts will have to manage the entire 90 minutes from start to finish.
If the Nerazzurri are able to maintain concentration and physical output all through, expect them to retain the three points.