Former Inter director Ernesto Paolillo expects this evening’s Milan derby between Inter and AC Milan to be a highly significant match for both teams.

Speaking to Italian news outlet TuttoMercatoWeb, the former director gave the view that both the Rossoneri and the Nerazzurri have everything to lose or gain in this evening’s match.

Inter are seven points behind their city rivals after eleven matches played, with the Rossoneri sitting joint top of the Serie A table after dropping only two points up to this point in the campaign.

It remains to be seen if the Nerazzurri can catch up to the Rossoneri, but this evening’s match constitutes an important opportunity to cut the deficit to four points, or to fall ten points behind.

The significance for Inter is obvious, but for Milan as well the prospect of either widening their gap at the top or losing part of their advantage in the table could prove to be season-defining.

“I would not leave the teams behind Inter for dead,” Paolillo stated, “the league is very competitive and it will be until. Some teams, like Napoli, will have to go through a difficult period during the African Cup of Nations, with three pillars out a month. Milan have very strong players but of a certain age, we don’t know how they are going. ”

He went on that “A draw today, however, would risk causing the Nerazzurri slip to nine points away from the Neapolitans. It will certainly be a demanding challenge for both teams, it will be a very balanced derby. Winning for Milan would mean stretching even more. Then of course, if Inter win they get very close. It is important to win for both of them.”

Paolillo also weighed in on the situation of Suning as owners at Inter, stating that “It will depend a lot on the situation in China, on how football is viewed. If there is hostility even Zhang himself will not be able to adapt, Inter will not be able to invest much. Different if there is a reopening.”