This Sunday’s Milan Derby will be different from past clashes between Internazionale and AC Milan. While the match that in Italy is known as the Derby della Madonnina has historically been a clash between two footballing giants with title implications, Sunday’s edition, on paper anyway, will be little more than a clash between two mid-table teams who share a stadium.
AC Milan currently sits in ninth place, one point above Inter in tenth. With neither side anywhere near this season’s Scudetto race and realistically out of the race for Europe, there is little left to play for this season in terms of tangible goals. But as it is in other mid-table derbies around the world, when there is little else to play for, victory in the derby becomes all the more important.
Of the two teams, Milan, currently unbeaten in its last four matches, will head into the derby on the better run of form. Inter made a number of high-profile acquisitions in the January window, signing Xherdan Shaqiri from Bayern Munich and bringing in Lukas Podolski on loan from Arsenal. Unfortunately for Roberto Mancini’s Inter side, neither player has made the kind of impact expected of them. Shaqiri has just one goal and two assists in 10 appearances for Inter. Podolski meanwhile, has thus far failed to find the net in his 11 appearances for the Nerazzurri.
Instead it’s Mauro Icardi who remains the danger-man for this struggling Inter side. The Argentine striker has found the net 16 times this season, most recently in Inter’s 3-0 win over Hellas Verona last weekend. Icardi will be the man Pippo Inzaghi’s Milan team will have to be most concerned about in Sunday’s derby.
AC Milan also made high profile January signings that haven’t quite lived up to expectations. Alessio Cerci was acquired in a deal with Atletico Madrid that saw Fernando Torres heading the other way, while Mattia Destro arrived from Roma. So far, Destro has scored just once while Cerci has one goal and two assists.
Instead, Milan has been getting most of its goals from Jeremy Menez. The Frenchman, who is in the midst of his best season ever since coming over from Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer last summer, has also scored 16 goals this season. Menez, along with Keisuke Honda and Giacomo Bonaventura, has been key to much of what this Milan side is capable of going forward.
Mancini will have to make due without his top assist man, Fredy Guarin, who is unavailable due to suspension. Inter will also be without Dodo and Hugo Campagnaro, who are both injured.
Inzaghi will have to contend with a greater number of absences with Destro joining Stephan El Shaarawy, Riccardo Montolivo and Michael Essien on the injured list. Honda, who’s missed the last two matches, will likely start on the bench.