Usually, the Derby della Madonnina, or sometimes known as the Milan derby, is played for higher stakes, with at least one of the teams in the title race. Things have changed this season due to financial limitations, and the Internazionale hosted match against AC Milan will be about the usual pride and hate, but also for a spot in the Champions League.
Milan have finished above Inter these last couple of seasons in the table, and while Milan dominated the encounter during their title winning season in 2010-2011 with a 1-0 and 3-0 win, Inter have won the last three matches, including the two derbies last season (1-0, 4-2) and edged out a 1-0 victory in October with a 4th minute goal by Walter Samuel, when things looked quite bad for the Rossoneri early on this season.
Things have changed since, as AC Milan have been buoyed by their 2-0 win over Barcelona last week in the Champions League, not to mention finding themselves at third in the Serie A, far away from Napoli and Juventus contesting the league title, but in the thick of it with Lazio, Inter & Fiorentina, battling for the third spot in the Champions league, one point more than Inter at the moment.
The man in focus of the match is Mario Balotelli, who has always been torn between Inter and Milan, but there’s no doubt where his allegiance is right now, leaving Inter to Manchester City and now landing with AC Milan, scoring four goals on his first three matches with the team, displaying his perfect record from the penalty spot. Despite missing several key players, the improve in work-rate by the midfielders, especially Montolivo and Boateng, while the Balotelli El-Shaarawy combination seems to be flourishing, Milan haven’t lost a league match since December.
For Inter, who were the first team to beat Juventus this season, things are a tad different. They to are missing several key players, including Walter Samuel and Diego Milito (out for the season, maybe longer), but their form is quite different from Milan’s, winning only once in their last five Serie A matches, including a 4-1 loss to Fiorentina last week. The 3-0 win over Cluj, with goals from Fredy Guarin and Marco Benassi might change the sinking mood a bit, hoping the reception Inter fans are preparing for Balotelli will help shift the momentum even further.
Prediction – Milan are on fire at the moment, although they aren’t that good of a team to keep this level of focus and ability for consecutive matches. The question is where does their real goal reside – finishing above Inter in the Serie A or giving it all in the Champions League against Barcelona? A draw, with Inter not looking too good at the moment, seems like a likely result.