So here it is. After two weeks of hyperbolic build-up and nerve-shredding anticipation (can the Lega please stop scheduling this match for the week directly after an international break?), Derby Day is finally upon us.
On Sunday night, Inter vs Milan will be watched by over 78,000 spectators inside San Siro and millions of people on television from 180 different countries around the world. Thanks to that sky-high attendance figure this derby is set to bring in €4.8m from gate receipts alone, which will break the all-time Italian record that was set by last season’s derby (when €4.2m was made by April’s 2-2 draw).
In other words, the world is waiting.
I suspect that by now you’re all primed and ready for action, having been starved of top-flight club football over the last fortnight - but just in case you aren’t, here’s a video showing you each and every goal that Inter have scored in this fixture, ‘home’ and ‘away’, since 2005 (excluding the four we scored last year - the video’s a year old and I don’t believe a more recent version exists). Man I miss Maicon at times...
Splendid. So now that we’re all champing at the bit in the agonising wait for kick-off, here are two reasons to be even more nervous about this match - here are two reasons that winning would be so goddamn significant for us.
This derby represents an important opportunity for Inter that Luciano Spalletti’s men would be foolish to let get away from them, in more ways than one. First and foremost it’s an opportunity to open up a 10-point gap between ourselves and Milan, which would be a rather sizeable gap just eight games into the season and a gap few would have predicted us to have at this stage. Despite the difficulties they are experiencing at the moment the Rossoneri remain a credible direct rival in this year’s race for Champions League qualification, so to have them that far behind already (albeit with a very long way still to go) would be a big statement - one that could fire our players up psychologically and deflate theirs. It’s not quite a match point we have this weekend, but victory would give us an authoritative two-set lead heading into the central period of the campaign.
As well as that, though, it’s also an opportunity to silence the myriad of critics this team have received so far this season, in spite of their 6 wins from 7. Many, perhaps even most people remain unconvinced by the performances Inter have offered up under Spalletti and continue to be tormented by the memory of what happened under Roberto Mancini two seasons ago, when the Nerazzurri strung together a run of stodgy victories between August and December and then fell apart in the New Year. Our August triumph over Roma at the Stadio Olimpico was written off by the majority as a fluke because of all the ‘episodes’ that went our way in that match, while the series of encounters we’ve had against inferior opposition since then have all followed a not-too-dissimilar narrative. Are we really building something substantial here, or are we just riding our luck?
Right now you just can’t shake that nagging feeling that everything is about to all come crumbling down, but if we were to win this match - and play well in the process - everybody would feel that little bit more optimistic about our long-term prospects this season.
I’m not particularly confident that that’s what’s going to happen, admittedly, but it might. So let’s hope and pray that it does. The alternative scenario, as ever, doesn’t bare thinking about. We’ll face up to that nauseating eventuality if and when it arrives.
Given that everything that needs to be said regarding team selection, tactics and so on has already been covered in our comprehensive community preview - which I encourage everybody to read by heading here - I shan’t blather on any further for now. Suffice it to say that I’m scared but that I think we have all the weapons at our disposal to win this match (even if Marcelo Brozovic could prove to be a big miss).
Let’s end with the beginning; the beginning of Spalletti’s pre-match press conference on Saturday afternoon. The parting words he left Inter TV’s Roberto Scarpini with before heading off to face the media are the same words I’d like to leave everybody reading this preview with now.
“Thank you and have a good derby, Mister.”
“You’ve forgotten something.”
Location: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan.
Time: 8:45 p.m. CEST (2:45 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast)
TV/Streaming: In the United States, the game is available on fuboTV, beinSPORTS USA and Rai International, while in the UK it will be shown on BT Sport 1 HD. Click here to find out where you can watch the match everywhere else in the world.
Inter Milan squad
Goalkeepers: Handanovic, Padelli, Berni.
Defenders: Cancelo, Ranocchia, Santon, Miranda, Dalbert, D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Nagatomo.
Midfielders: Gagliardini, Joao Mario, Vecino, Borja Valero.
Forwards: Icardi, Karamoh, Eder, Perisic, Candreva, Pinamonti.
Match Thread Rules
There are only three rules: don’t be hateful, don’t disrespect anyone else’s opinion and enjoy the game!
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