Written by Arjit
Ok Fellow Milanisti ! Let’s Discuss Milan ! Let’s Talk Some Red & Black !
The Milan Derby 2020/21
Get Excited Folks !! It’s Milan Derby !! Sempre Forza Milan !!
The famous Derby della Madonnina is almost upon us now. There is no better fixture in Italian football to welcome back Serie A action once again after the long international break. On 17th October 2020, Inter and Milan will face each other under the lights at the magnificent San Siro. It’s a real shame that fans will not be able to witness the rivalry at the stadium. Usually, the San Siro is packed to the rafters for the derby for this incredible showpiece of European football. But health must comes first and better safe than sorry. Nonetheless, supporters of both camps around the world will be thrilled at the prospect of watching their beloved teams lock horns in what is truly a spectacular advert for European football. And the stakes couldn’t be higher, city bragging rights.
Without much further ado, let’s preview the 2020/21 ‘Derby della Madonnina’.
PREDICTED LINE UPS
MILAN STARTING XI ( 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 )
G. Donnarumma, D. Calabria, S. Kjaer, A. Romagnoli, T. Hernandez, I. Bennacer, F. Kessie, A. Saelemaekers, H. Calhanoglu, R. Leao, Z. Ibrahimovic
Milan come into the derby with virtually all key players available for selection. ‘Lion’ Zlatan and ‘Capitano’ Romagnoli have been declared fit, which can only be good news for the Rossoneri. Unfortunately, Rebic will miss the match as he’s still struggling with his elbow dislocation. Meanwhile, Duarte and Gabbia face an extended period out with COVID infection. Mister Pioli is expected to stick with the same formation which has worked wonders in previous games.
INTER STARTING XI ( 3 – 5 – 2 )
S. Handanovic, D. D ‘Ambrosio, S. De Vrij, A. Kolarov, A. Hakimi, A. Vidal, M. Brozovic, N. Barella, I. Perisic, L. Martinez, R. Lukaku
Inter come into the derby with a long list of absentees with numerous players out with COVID infection. These include defensive trio of Young, Bastoni and Skriniar. The midfield duo of Nainggolan and Gagliardini have also been ruled out of the derby alongside backup goalkeeper Radu. This means that Conte’s side has pretty much picked itself for the match against their Rossoneri rivals. The Nerazzurri boss has never been shy in the past of showing his frustration at the lack of depth in his squad. Well, that’s no longer the case as he has a plethora of options on the bench to call upon in times like this. There can be no more excuses now as his side prepares to face a reinvigorated Milan team.
MILAN LEAGUE FORM — W W W
Milan come into the derby with a perfect record in the league having won all 3 games leading upto this glorious fixture. Stefano Pioli became the latest in a long list of managers to walk through the door at Milan. Only this time, the results have been surprisingly different. Pioli has completely transformed the fortunes of this team from the time he initially took over. The Rossoneri have never looked in better shape on and off the field. Pioli’s Milan is characterized by their high tempo offensive football with high pressing. The team is fun to watch and this hasn’t been the case for many years. The start to the 2020/21 season has been incredible. Milan overcame Bologna, Crotone and Spezia in a rather convincing fashion, extending their unbeaten run to 19 games in all competitions. The team seems to have found its groove and will be expecting to continue the impressive winning run at the expense of their greatest rivals.
INTER LEAGUE FORM — W W D
Inter come into the derby on the back of an outstanding first campaign under Antonio Conte. The team finished a point behind Juventus and will be looking to give the Bianconeri a run for their money again this season in the race for Scudetto. The team looks settled in Conte’s favored 3-5-2 system with a solid midfield and wing backs pushing high up the pitch. The ownership has shown faith in the manager by recruiting heavily over the summer. The expectations will be understandably high for this season as the Nerazzurri prepare to claim their 19th Scudetto. The start has been decent with 2 wins and 1 draw in the opening rounds of Serie A. They will take to the field against their bitter rivals in Milan, looking to send a clear signal to Juventus and the rest of the league.
KEY INDIVIDUAL BATTLES
Theo Vs Hakimi
An interesting sub plot including two Real Madrid cast offs. Theo joined Milan in 2019 and Hakimi signed with Inter a year later in 2020. After being ousted by Bernabéu side, they now find each other face off in the Milan derby having established themselves as one of the best fullbacks in Europe. It will be quite intriguing to see how the marauding fullbacks neutralize each other’s threats.
Hakan Vs Vidal
A fascinating battle in the middle of the park. Hakan Calhanoglu has been in sensational form since the end of last season. It’s fair to say Hakan has been a polarizing figure amongst Milan supporters for the most part. He has shown flashed of brilliance but lacked consistency. Pioli has managed to unlock the undoubted quality of Hakan. The Turk has contributed 17 goals in his last 12 games, becoming the team’s creative hub. Vidal was recruited on the specific request of Conte over the summer. The Chilean will look to add an extra bite and dynamism in midfield. This is a marriage made in heaven as Conte knows Vidal from their time together at Juve. Vidal will be tasked with nullifying the impact of Hakan by denying him any kind of time and space on the ball. This promises to be a key matchup and one that settles the outcome of this derby.
Zlatan Vs De Vrij
This is classic attack versus defense. Both sides boast great attacking talents. Zlatan Ibrahimovic needs no introduction after enjoying a fantastic career at the very top echelons of European football. The big Swede has won countless trophies during his celebrated career and has brought that winning mentality to the Milan dressing room. The arrival of Zlatan has completely changed the atmosphere around Milan. His influence is evident as the Rossoneri have only lost twice in 2020 and remain undefeated post lockdown. It’s no coincidence. It’s what we call ‘The Zlatan Effect’ in Milan. Inter’s defender De Vrij will face the difficult task of stopping Zlatan from getting on the scoresheet. On paper, this is an interesting duel as both players are physically imposing. De Vrij will be hoping to keep Zlatan quiet but that’s not an easy thing to do for anybody.
LUKAKU VS KJAER
Romelu Lukaku joined Inter in 2019 after Conte had specifically asked Inter’s board for his signing. He was an instant fit scoring 23 league goals in his first season at the club. The Belgian is a towering presence in attack, offering the team physicality and excellent linkup play. Antonio Conte has gotten the best out of Lukaku by making him feel important in the current project. He has a brilliant partnership with Lautaro Martinez upfront and the tandem have been combining quite well with each other. Milan’s Simon Kjaer will have his hands full with Lukaku as he must try to cut the supply line to the Belgian whenever possible. Lukaku scored in the previous derby and will look to add to his tally. The result of the derby might as well hinge upon this particular physical duel.
ONES TO WATCH
The man for the big games. Zlatan will unsurprisingly be the key man for the Rossoneri as they look to best their rivals for the first time in the league since 2016. The most recent encounters have gone the Nerazzurri’s way. But Milan will have the chance to redeem themselves with Zlatan in the side. He enjoys the attention and big occasions. And the Milan derby is as good as it gets. It will depend a lot on his physical condition since he has only recently returned to training after spending two weeks in quarantine due to COVID. The Italian media have tipped him to start the game. His influence on the players around him is undeniable and Milan is better off with him in the side. Since his return, Milan have only lost twice and are currently on a 19 game undefeated streak. The Swede himself scored 10 goals in 18 Serie A games last season. He’s hit the ground running this campaign with a brace in the opening round. He will be a handful for the depleted Inter defense since he excels at bringing others into play apart from being a huge goal threat himself. Zlatan was exceptional in his last derby, only this time he’ll be determined to be on the winning side.
The Belgian is clearly Inter’s primary weapon as evident by the sheer amount of goals he scored last season. He also scored in each of the two derbies last season. The Rossoneri defense will know firsthand the threat that the Belgian brings in these kinds of games. Lukaku’s biggest strengths are his physicality and impressive turn of pace, although his first touch is questionable. He truly comes into his own when there is space in behind to exploit. He’s also brilliant with his back to goal as he can often outmuscle the opposing defenders. But, he struggles with operating tight spaces due to his limited technical qualities. Pioli has tended to deploy a high defensive line during his time at Milan which makes the team susceptible to quick counter attacks. The Rossoneri backline will have to closely mark Lukaku to avoid being caught out on the transitions. Lukaku has troubled Milan before and he’ll be looking to be the match winner once again. It will be up to the Red Devils to contain the Belgian powerhouse.
The form goes out the window in the derby. It’s a cliché, but has been proven right in the previous Milan derbies. Milan have great momentum on their side after a perfect start to the season. Zlatan has been his usual charismatic and Hakan has elevated his game to another level. Stefano Pioli has transformed Milan into a legitimate top 4 contenders in a year’s time. But Inter are coming on the back off an excellent season as well. They finished runners up to Juve and also reached the Europa League finals. Antonio Conte is a proven winner and has assembled an experienced squad to compete for the title. This game could go either way. Milan don’t have a particularly good record in the recent derbies. Inter have several players out due to COVID and will have to field a makeshift defense. Milan head into the derby as firm favorites since they are the most in form team amongst top 5 European leagues. Antonio Conte faces a difficult task of stopping the formidable Rossoneri machine with a depleted squad at his disposal. The city of Milano will be ‘Red & Black’ on this occasion.