Match Preview: Derby Della Madonnina
The two Milan Giants – AC Milan and Inter Milan will meet each other on Sunday in a match which will have a significant bearing on which team can cement the all important third and final spot for the Champions League next season, as both of them are all but out of the title race. Both the Milan clubs have had a similar season with Inter faltering after a bright start to the season and Milan consolidating after a rocky and unconvincing start.
Milan recently pulled off a shock 2-0 win over continental giants Barcelona in the Champions League and Inter got the better of CFR Cluj in their round of 32 match in the Europa league. Milan lead Inter by a solitary point and both teams have racked up the same number of wins this season – 13 each. Inter won the first tie of the season between the two teams 1-0, thanks to an early Walter Samuel goal.
Key Battles :
Mario Balotelli v/s Juan
The young Brazilian defender, who has had a stellar season at the back so far for Inter, will have his task cut out when he faces the mercurial Mario Balotelli. Balotelli, who has himself stated that he is in the form of his life, has already scored four goals in only three appearances for the Rossoneri since his arrival in January. Known for not keeping his cool, Mario has showed great composure and finesse with his play lately and will be the player, Milan will be hoping, fires. Physically, Juan might struggle to keep up with Mario.
Freddy Guarin v/s Riccardo Montolivo
The Columbian Freddy Guarin has been a breath of fresh air for the Nerazzurri this season and is known for his slick passing and his ability to break-up play. Stramaccioni used him astutely in the wins over Juventus and Napoli earlier in the season. Guarin also has a powerful shot and is known to strike from a distance. His opposite number will be the hero from the win over Barcelona, Riccardo Montolivo. The Italian midfielder was very effective in keeping the likes of Xavi and Busquets quiet in the center of the park. Guarin and Kovacic might find the going tough against him. Known for his accurate long balls, his aerial passes could also prove incisive for Milan.
Antonio Cassano v/s Philippe Mexes
Cassano left Milan for Inter in a swap deal with Giampaolo Pazzini going the other way. Cassano, who recovered from a heart problem last season, has had a good first season with the Black and Blue, contributing with six goals and eight assists to date. Cassano left Milan on a sour note and will be looking forward to his revenge. Mexes, the man who will most probably be assigned with the task of marking him, will have to be vary of his movements but will be high on confidence after his commanding performance mid-week against Barcelona.
Notable Absentee :
Milan: Nigel De Jong – The Dutchman broke his ACL early in the season and has been ruled out for the season.
Inter: Andrea Ranocchia – In what will be a blow to Inter, the Italian center back reportedly picked up a knee injury against Cluj in their Europa League tie and remains a serious doubt for Sunday’s derby clash.
Milan (Last five games): WWWDW
Inter (Last five games): DDLWL
Milan: Stephen El Shaarawy – 15
Inter: Diego Milito – 9
Score Predictions: In the past decade, only one game has ever ended as a draw between these two teams and the matches are full of a lot of incidents, both on and off the pitch. Inter have been struggling and can’t afford to slip any further, Milan on the other hand look on the up ever since the capture of Mario. It should be a high scoring, tension filled derby, but I feel Milan might just scrape through with a win in the end. So 3-2 in favor of Milan.Published 23 Feb 2013, 00:29 IST