Football is a team sport which at times is defined by individual brilliance. The box office games that get the cash register ringing are often remembered for a spellbinding dribble or a powerful pile-driver. Flares, choreographies and nude men running on the pitch add to the drama.
The Milan derby, which is to be played on Sunday, 23 November 2014, is likely to have the ingredients of a high-profile match. There might not be exquisite football on display, but the passion is usually yanked to full-throttle.
As both teams involved desperately attempt to walk away with the points and the bragging rights, I think there would be a strong dependency on one of their key players to pull through on the night.
The twenty-year old midfielder is likely to be the foundation on which Inter’s future is built. Touted by many as the next Zvonimir Boban, Kovacic exudes class like no other his age. Skillful on the ball and gifted with the ability to carve open defences with precise passing, Kovacic could run riot against a largely slumberous back-line.
He is expected to be aided by highly mobile centre forwards (Mauro Icardi and Rodrigo Palacio), who will stretch the defence and test their counterparts with pace and movement. Kovacic could drop deep, pick up the ball and connect the midfield with the attack, or wait for a box-to-box midfielder like Freddy Guarin to serve him with the pass.
In the midst of a flexible system, Kovacic would enjoy a free role with limited responsibility from a defensive perspective. He will be further helped with the plausible absence of Nigel De Jong, Milan’s best defensive midfielder, who if played, might be tasked with keeping the Croatian on a leash.
The Frenchman has fallen off the radar since starting the season on an explosive note. His much-talked about back-heel goal seems like a distant memory and Menez seems to walk onto the pitch these days with a visible degree of indifference.
That being said, he claims to be motivated to do well at Milan. While talking to RTL, he said “When I signed for Milan, it was to relaunch my career with Les Bleus,” Given the plethora of players available to Didier Deschamps for selection, seeing Menez don the French jersey seems rather unlikely.
His lofty ambitions aside, Menez holds the key to unlocking Inter’s defence. He can dribble with pace and provides spaces for the auxiliary wingers to get behind the defence. His best performances this season have been witnessed when he was played as a false 9. Powered with a fearsome shot from distance, Menez is a thorough threat for the Nerazzurri.
It is also entirely possible that the game is decided by another player, one nobody would put their money on. After all, the last derby was won by Milan following a goal scored by Nigel De Jong. However, if either Kovacic or Menez play a pivotal role in deciding the result of the game on Sunday, then be assured, I will be sporting a smirk for quite awhile.Published 22 Nov 2014, 14:37 IST