If last Sunday was an opportunity to grab ahold of the top spot in Serie A for Inter Milan, this upcoming Sunday is a golden opportunity to cement their place at the top of the heap in this season’s title challenge. Inter will be the nominal visiting team against second place city rivals AC Milan. With one Serie A and one Coppa Italia edition of the derby being split between the Nerazzurri and Rossoneri, this derby will determine not only who sits in first place at the end of the matchweek, but also who will claim dominance over the city for the season.
For only the third time this season, Stefano Piloi’s squad is coming off of consecutive negative results in the past week after losing 2-0 to Spezia and drawing with Dejan Stankovic’s Red Star Belgrade on Thursday in the Europa League round of 32. The 2-2 draw in Serbia also proved to be costly because of a first half injury to key midfielder Ismael Bennnacer, who will miss the derby and likely be replaced by Sandro Tonali.
Last Sunday’s loss opened the door for Inter to move to the top of the table, but the Rossoneri are still only one point off the pace set by Conte’s men and have beaten them in the league already this season. With a full squad available outside of the Bennacer injury, Milan will surely be gunning to steady their ship and regain their spot at the summit of Serie A.
Things this week have been much more rosy on the black and blue side of the city. The 3-1 win over Lazio last Sunday was the last time Inter were in action since they have no European engagements in the midweek for the rest of this season. A full week of rest and preparation will surely benefit Inter ahead of a massive derby. A strong 90 minutes put in by former Inter great in Dejan Stankovic’s Red Star on Thursday will certainly leave Inter a bit fresher than Milan.
The return to form for Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku before this derby will surely give Inter a huge confidence boost. Both strikers were firing on all cylinders in the victory over Lazio. Also coming into form is Christian Eriksen, who is likely to be given a starting nod again from Conte. The Dane has looked exceptionally dangerous in his encounters with the Rossoneri. From sending a rocket of a free kick off the crossbar last season from a distance that nearly equated to the parking lot of San Srio to actually banging in the winner from a free kick in the last meeting between these two last month, he will be coming into this match high on confidence, which is great for Inter. The only absence for the Nerazzurri should be Stefano Sensi, who pulled out of training this week with what has is being called muscle fatigue by the club.
4-2 (H) - 9/2/2020
1-2 (H) - 17/10/2020
2-1 (H) - 26/1/2021 (Coppa Italia)
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Milan 1-3 Inter
This was my prediction less than a month ago when these two teams faced each other. That match of course ended 2-1 to Inter, but Conte’s team showed that they have all the tools to beat this Milan side when everyone is healthy and performing, everything they weren’t in the October loss. Expect big nights from Eriksen and Lukaku who have both played big parts in this fixture in the past year. The latter will also be looking for more sweet revenge over his former Manchester United teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the two sparked up the bad blood this derby is historically known to produce on the pitch last month.
Hoping for another season defining win and one that makes it four points to the good at the top of the table for the Nerazzurri. Time to paint Milano black and blue yet again.