Inter Milan vs AC Milan | Sunday 19 April | San Siro | 20:45
It’s Milan derby time in the Italian Serie A this weekend. Affectionately known as Derby Della Madonnina in Italy, it no longer attracts the amount of attention it once did, but it remains one of the most important games of the season for both clubs and Sunday's clash will certainly have an extra edge to it. The San Siro fixture will prove crucial for both sides as they target a place in the Europa League (fifth spot), with AC Milan currently lying a point above Inter Milan in eighth.
To Win (90mins)
Inter Milan 12/10
AC Milan 9/4
Inter Milan picked up a morale-boosting 3-0 win at Hellas Verona last Saturday to revive their slim hopes of qualifying for Europe next season. Mauro Icardi, Rodrigo Palacio and an own goal earned the Nerazzurri their first victory since February 23, ending a run of five games without a win and taking them to within eight points of fifth-placed Fiorentina. This inconsistency has been apparent all season, as the side has not managed to make a run to spur them to the top part of the table. It looked as if their season was starting to pick up after a run of three consecutive wins in February and there were genuine hopes that they could mount a late challenge for a place in the top three. However, after going without a win in five league games they dropped to ninth on the table. Roberto Mancini's side were even booed off the pitch two weeks back, as they struggled against bottom of the log Parma, drawing 1-1. It has led to heightened speculation over the future of the manager and there is expected to be a mass clear-out of players at San Siro this summer. Their poor form lead Mancini to order an Easter Sunday training session and he also warned them that they would face double training sessions every day until the derby if they had not won against Verona last weekend. Inter have won just ten Serie A games this season, their worst tally after thirty matches since the 1991/92 season. Icardi returned to the starting line-up last weekend with a bang, scoring his sixteenth goal of the season. The Argentine forward was recalled to the starting XI after serving his suspension to renew his partnership with fellow countryman Rodrigo Palacio. Lukas Podolski and Xherdan Shaqiri are likely to settle for places on the bench as Mancini should continue with a winning team here, which includes Nemanja Vidic in the heart of defence.
AC Milan will be desperate to get back to winning ways on Sunday and claim the bragging rights after being held to a 1-1 draw by Sampdoria at the San Siro last weekend. With consecutive wins behind them going into the clash, confidence was growing in the Milan camp with a belief that they could potentially finish the season strong. Not only would a win against Sampdoria have boosted their chances of qualifying for Europe next season, but it would also have continued to strengthen Filippo Inzaghi's case to remain as coach. However, Nigel de Jong's deflected goal meant they are now unbeaten in their last six matches at the San Siro. The Milan players will feel they have an opportunity to give something back to the fans after constant disappointment this year. Inzaghi believes the Rossoneri played some of their best football of the season against Sampdoria and were unlucky not to claim maximum points. Milan had 26 shots in the ninety minutes at San Siro - more than they have managed in any other game this season - and had good chances to take the lead early on through Alessio Cerci and Ignazio Abate. Jeremy Menez is right behind Carlos Tevez and tied with Icardi at the top of the Serie A scoring list. The French forward is trying to break the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. The 27-year-old former PSG winger has been spearheading the strike force and has scored five goals in his past six matches—his hottest streak this season.
VERDICT: AC Milan 9/4
Very little has separated these sides this season. With just a point separating them in the standings, they have conceded the same amount of goals with Milan’s 46 goals scored only two more than Inter have managed. Previous head-to-heads have been equally contested and that shows in the last ten meetings between the sides with the pair winning four times each and drawing twice. I’m going to pick a winner here after the first round meeting ended in a 1-1 draw. For those that don’t know, the San Siro Stadium is shared by these Milan giants so come derby day there is no home ground advantage. Milan are in better home form having not lost at the San Siro since mid-January and that’s enough to convince me that they can get back to winning ways here, especially after some promising football last weekend that didn’t yield three points.