The first Derby della Madonnina of the season is on the horizon. After yet another international break, the return to competitive club football will be a welcome sight for football fans around the world. The Milan derby is a fantastic way to resume club football with the next round of Champions League fixtures in mid-week to come with more exhilarating matches to be played.
Both teams have made relatively good starts to the season. Under the tutelage of Luciano Spalletti, Inter Milan have found themselves in third position. After a difficult start to the season, Inter found themselves with one win, two losses and one draw after their first four games. Spalletti was yet to find a winning formula and made several tactical and personnel changes.
The turning point came during week one of the Champions League where the Italian side faced Tottenham Hotspur who made a promising start to their domestic season including a 3-0 demolishing of Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Champions League game between Inter and Spurs was a thrilling encounter and one all Inter fans will remember for years to come. A late stoppage winner from Matias Vecino secured all three points after a thrilling comeback from 1-0 down. Many called the victory a ‘lucky break’ but it proved to be the turning point and has taken us to a five match winning streak including wins against Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Cagliari and PSV Eindhoven.
Up next, we face arch rivals, AC Milan in what is expected to be an enthralling game against our city rivals. Milan have improved after a tough start under Genaro Gattuso. Their last five games have included victories against Chievo, Sassuolo and Olympiacos with 3-1 and 4-1 margin. The Rossoneri have picked up an early season win over AS Roma which has made them worthy contenders this season. The Milan club are languishing in 10th place but will look to mirror their league position with their upturn in form.
Inter Team News
Inter Milan will head into this game with one injury concern with Matias Vecino limping off against Japan on Tuesday during the international break but initial reports have suggested that the Uruguayan should be fit for the Derby della Madonnina putting Luciano Spalletti at ease knowing he has a full squad to select from. With a number of important games on the horizon, Vecino may not be risked, knowing that a key encounter against FC Barcelona is in four days which makes Roberto Gagliardini a favourite to start. The defensive midfielder has been in fine form since his call up to the side last month.
Marcelo Brozović should partner him in midfield. The Croatian has silently impressed with his statistics placing him as one of the hardest working midfielders in the league. He sits third in balls won in Serie A this season (41) behind Kalidou Koulibaly (43) and Allan (44). His running statistics are impressive with an average of 11.88km per game across 607 minutes played. The central midfielder has been an absolute monster for Inter this season and his importance to the team has quietly slipped by everyone. Keeping the game ticking and pulling players out of position has been a key component for the front four to thrive on.
The front four should be a relatively straightforward choice for Spalletti having found his strongest attacking lineup. Ivan Perisic, Matteo Politano, Radja Nainggolan and Mauro Icardi should lead the line.
Expected Inter Milan Line up (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; Asamoah, Skriniar, De Vrij, D’Ambrosio; Gagliardini, Brozović; Perisic, Nainggolan, Politano; Icardi
Milan will look to continue their winning run with a significant victory over the Nerazzurri. Four Milan players were called-up by Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini for Italy’s games against Ukraine and Poland, but Romagnoli and Cutrone left the training camp early after suffering from fatigue having played an important role for Milan thus far.
The Rossoneri should continue with the same side that beat Chievo before the international break with one change in Alessio Romanogli replacing Cristián Zapata in the heart of defence.
Expected Milan Line up (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Abate, Romanogli, Musacchio, Rodríguez; Kessié, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Higauin, Çalhanoğlu
Gonzalo Higauin has hit the ground running since his loan move from Juventus. The former Juventus striker has scored four goals in his first nine games for Milan and has once again emerged as the focal point and main source of goals for his newly adopted home. Having scored 55 goals in 105 appearances for Juventus, the Argentinian striker claims he was forced out of Milan because of the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. Juventus’s fall is Milan’s gain having obtained the services of one of the most clinical strikers in world football.
With both teams picking up form at the right time, it is a tough call to predict who will come out on top. Both teams have quality players in certain positions with Icardi and Higauin the key players. The game will be decided on the basis of their performances. With Inter Milan sitting in third and gaining momentum at the right time, I predict a narrow 2-1 win for Inter Milan with Icardi scoring twice and Higauin once for Milan.
Date and time: Sunday, October 21, 2018, 2:30 p.m. (EST), 8:30 p.m. local.
Location: Giuseppe Meazza Stadium (Milan)
TV/Streaming: In the United States, the match will be streamed on ESPN+ and Rai Italia America. In the U.K., you can watch it on Eleven Sports 2 UK and in Italy, the match can be watched on Sky Go Italia.
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