January was quite the month for Inter. Despite a number of very concerning results and even more worrying performances, the Nerazzurri have somehow found themselves in second place and in the Coppa Italia semi-finals by the time February rolled around. Talk about failing upwards, eh? Inter still has a mess on its hands in Serie A, stuck in the clump of teams between second and sixth. One of those teams is our old friends Milan, and though this edition of the derby della Madonnina doesn’t mean much for the title, it has turned into a battle for the top four.
Milan has struggled mightily since Serie A resumed, with just one win in 7 games to its name. Ever since blowing a 2-0 lead against Roma in the final five minutes, the Rossoneri have looked like a shell of the team that won the title a year ago. Debilitated by Mike Maignan’s long-term absence, it conceded 18 goals in January, including 12 in the last 3 - all losses. Inter’s 3-0 win over Milan in the Supper Coppa sparked a run of blowout losses to Lazio (4-0) and Sassuolo by a scoreline of 5-2 at the San Siro. The Rossoneri have now fallen out of the top four, sitting 5th, but tied on 38 points with Lazio (3rd) and Atalanta (4th).
Stefano Pioli doesn’t seem willing to shift away from his beloved 4-2-3-1 and almost the entirety of the first-choice XI is out of form. Despite decent attacking numbers (it has the 5th most goals scored in the league), Milan has been particularly stale in the final third of late, with almost no production outside of Rafael Leao (8g, 5a) and Olivier Giroud (6g, 4a) - both of whom have slowed up of late. In short, this is a Milan team in trouble pretty much everywhere. So yeah, expect them to put in their game of the season Sunday.
Though Inter is second on 40 points, it’s definitely not safe from falling out of the top four. Sixth place Roma is only three points back, just to give you an idea of how tight the top of the table is (except runaway leaders Napoli). Inter needs to take care of business Sunday and in the coming weeks to avoid a UCL race, and the opportunity is there for a long-awaited Serie A winning streak. Along with the Round of 16 first leg with Porto, Sampdoria, Udinese, and Bologna are on the schedule for the coming month.
Inter has an 80W-67-D-71L advantage in the all-time series against the Rossoneri, although it has lost the last two league derbies including a 3-2 defeat back in September.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Inter Milan 1-1 AC Milan
Despite Milan’s form falling off a cliff of late, they’ll do enough to pull out of their nosedive for the derby. A Leao equalizer with cancel out Lautaro’s opener and points will be split at the Meazza.