Inter did not escape the latest international break unscathed with new signing Miranda straining his MCL in his right knee during a friendly for Brazil against the United States. Further tests will be done next week but it is looking increasingly likely that he will be missing the key Serie A matchup of the weekend, the Derby della Madonnina.
The new M&M (Miranda and Murillo) partnership in the heart of the defense has worked wonders so far. Though there have only been two league matches so far the two have looked confident in their every move and fans have been thankful that the horror shows at the back from past seasons have seemingly been put to rest. But now that one M is out Mancini will have to look to one of last year's center-backs to plug in the gap.
That option is looking like it will be Andrea Ranocchia. Though he is officially the captain of the team he has not started the first two matches of the season. Why is that you ask? The nice answer is that M&M have just played incredibly well and forced Rano out of the side. The less nice but also still honest answer is that so far they have proven themselves to be fearless, largely error free warriors at the back that will actually make opposing attackers fear them (which is everything Rano has not been during his career at Inter).
Now with Miranda out it looks like Mancini will be turning to the 27 year old to stop Milan's attacking partnership of Luiz Adriano and Carlos Bacca. It is a very good opportunity for Rano to show that he can still earn a place in the side, but it might just be one of his last chances. In the past few season the Italian international has been handed a starting role in the team, whether it is because he was proclaimed to be the heir of Zanetti's armband or becuase there simply weren't better options at the back to replace him. When Mancini arrived at the club he saw how badly this was working out and knew that new center-backs weren't just a preference, they were a requirement. It is still early days with M&M but if they continue performing at the level they have been so far, Ranocchia will probably see his playing time reduced to Andreolli levels, unless he can take advantage of the Derby della Madonnina and show Mancini that he is good enough.
There are other options of course. For a majority of last season Juan Jesus played as a center-back, only recently was his role changed to being a fullback. Mancini could always decide to shift JJ back into his natural position and give one of the new fullbacks brought in during the transfer market a chance in the derby. Also, Gary Medel has played as a center-back while on the Chilean national team, and he could be given the chance to showcase his skills in that position and let Melo play as the defensive midfielder. Finally, Mancini keeps insisting that Miranda might be fit enough to play, so he might just risk a less than 100% Miranda and hope that works out.
The Derby della Madonnina is a huge match for all of the players, but if Ranocchia gets the nod to start, it will take on extra significance for him. He might just be fighting for his Inter career on Sunday, so if there was ever going to be a match for him to put on a monster performance, this is it.