Inter vs Milan is always an occasion worth marking on the calendar, and this time is no different. The fifth (!) Derby della Madonnina of 2023 comes rather early in the season on just Matchday 4 but features both teams in joint lead of Serie A with perfect records - so far. At least one of those will fall come Saturday, but with both teams in stellar form, predicting which is not much clearer than a coin-flip on paper.
Milan had a hectic summer market, losing Sandro Tonali to Newcastle for almost €80 million and then bringing in seven major signings - Christian Pulisic, Noah Okafor, Tijjani Reijnders, Samuel Chukwueze, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Yunus Musah, and Luka Jovic for a total €114.00m outlay and average age of 22.3. It was clear the plan to replace Tonali was not to directly fill his spot, but instead, reinforce and rejuvenate the entire squad with youth and gambles on out of favor players (that look to have paid off so far). Such a makeover was needed after Milan barely scraped a Champions League spot in 2022/23, relying far too much on Rafael Leao-inspired magic to pick up results. Now, though, the Portuguese star has help in the form, and the misfiring attackers that made up last season’s final third corps - Brahim Diaz, Origi, Rebic, Messias, Saelemakers, and De Ketelaere. Leao (1g, 1a) and Giroud (4g, 1a) remain the Rossoneri’s pillars, but of the arrivals, Pulisic especially has taken quickly to Serie A with two goals in three games.
That attacking trident will be the toughest test yet to Inter’s spotless defensive record, which has earned the Nerazzurri the accolade of the only team in the top five leagues yet to concede a goal. The resurgence of Stefan de Vrij has been as important to Inter’s run of shutouts as surprising after a very poor 22/23. Nonetheless, if the Dutchman can keep this form for good Inter will have an embarrassment of riches in the backline with Benjamin Pavard yet to even debut. On the other end of the pitch, Inter has eight scored, with Lautaro Martinez (5g) taking on a starring role. Marcus Thuram and Marko Arnautovic have shown positive signs but will likely be called far more this Saturday as Milan focuses on Lautaro.
It’s more than just Inter’s strikers that will be tested. Monza, Cagliari, and Fiorentina on short rest are a handful or two of tiers below Stefano Pioli’s Milan. While the Nerazzurri eased past those three opponents barely breaking a sweat, it also didn’t put together a full 90 of dominance on any occasion and this time any sort of dip in Inter’s concentration won’t be forgiven.
The cousins have already faced off four times this calendar year through three competitions - Supercoppa, Serie A, and Champions League. The good guys came out on top on each occasion, scoring 7 and conceding 0. Inter also boasts an 83W-67D-71L lead in the overall series.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Inter Milan 2-2 AC Milan
A back-and-forth evening will end with points shared, ending the perfect records of both teams. Inter will open the scoring through Lautaro (who else) before Milan strikes back via Leao and Pulisic before Alexis Sanchez grabs a (re)debut equalizer off the bench.