While the international break was largely much ado about nothing and the transfer window surprised quite a few fans across Italy and Europe, Serie A football returns to the pitch in style. Top of the table Inter Milan host city rivals AC Milan for the second and possibly final Derby della Madonnina of the season. Simone Inzaghi’s side currently sit four points above both third place Milan and second place Napoli with a game in hand. Despite the extra match, a win for the Nerazzurri could signal the beginning of the end of the Serie A title race.
In the final matches before the break, Inter looked quite gassed. A full 120 minutes against Juventus and Empoli on consecutive Wednesdays with matches against Atalanta and Venezia on each weekend all preceded by a tough match against Lazio had the squad moving a step slower towards the end of January. An international break without European matches will have done Inter some good, but another torrid lies ahead of the club in February.
Matches were played in South American qualifiers, but Inter players escaped without injury, which has been a bit of a rarity in recent breaks. Lautaro Martinez and Alexis Sanchez even bagged themselves a few goals before making the trip back across the Atlantic. The only anticipated absences for this match are Joaquin Correa and new addition Robin Gosens, who are both dealing with hamstring issues.
Stefano Pioli’s Milan ended January with a 0-0 draw against Juventus after a shock 1-2 loss at home to Thiago Motta’s Spezia. The consecutive matches with dropped points have seen Napoli pass the Rossoneri into second on goal difference. Milan will be hungry for a win to get themselves firmly back into the title race after a slight slip in recent weeks.
Both Ismael Bennacer and Franck Kessie will be back from AFCON and available to Pioli. However, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Fikayo Tomori are still not fully fit and will be starting from the bench, meaning Olivier Giroud and Alessio Romagnoli are likely starters.
1-1 (A) - 7/11/2021
0-3 (A) - 21/2/2021
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Inter 3-2 Milan
At the end of January, both teams were complaining about the condition of the pitch at San Siro, but now with the pitch being repaired and both teams somewhat fully rested after the break, this will be a back and forth match. Milan desperately needs a win and will be attacking hard, but Inter have a full defense and a first-choice strikers, which Milan are lacking. It will be an exciting one for sure. Having derbies with meaning at this point in the season is always fun.