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Saturday March 16 2019
Milan Derby turnaround

The Derby Della Madonnina is upon us, so Football Italia Chief Correspondent Richard Hall sees how both rivals changed since the last clash

It was Fyodor Dostoevsky who said: “Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” And yet this is what Milan did. In October, the world seemed a very different place for both the Rossoneri and the Nerazzurri, especially as the latter had just won the Derby Della Madonnina at the last gasp thanks to Mauro Icardi’s strike. It seems so distant now, as the trajectory of both clubs changed radically over the last five months.

As Inter approached the Derby back in October, things were not perfect, but they were better than they had been in some time. They were playing with tempo and even some expansive football had been seen under Luciano Spalletti, but above all, they were winning. Six straight victories in all competitions had seen them beat Tottenham Hotspur, PSV, Fiorentina, Sampdoria, Cagliari and SPAL.

The fixture against Milan was hyped up in the papers, with the Corriere Dello Sport saying that ‘Il Derby e tutto’ (The Derby is everything). This showdown was meant to take Spalletti’s men up to the next level.

Milan approached the game in mixed form, as they had beaten the likes of Sassuolo and Chievo, but drawn against Empoli and Cagliari, and the team did not seem to be clicking as it should. Gonzalo Higuain was not looking like the 20 goal a season striker they had hoped for and there were questions over Gennaro Gattuso and also whether the club would be able to spend anything in the January window. There is no doubt at the time that Milan were building for the future, but it seemed whilst they were struggling with the foundations, Inter were putting on the roof.

Since that night when the Argentine stole the show, making it yet another Icardi Derby, the fortunes have changed on both sides of the city divide.

Inter followed up the Derby win by beating Lazio 3-0 and then they stuck five past Genoa before the wheels came off. The ‘Inter of Discontent’ struck once again in the November to February period, as Spalletti scratched his head, as like Napoleon’s march on Moscow, it all slowed down in the snow.

It was at this time that the first rumblings began about Icardi’s contract, a saga that has hampered the Nerazzurri’s progress to this day. Ivan Perisic handed in a transfer request, but did not get his move to Arsenal, causing quite a stir.

Director Beppe Marotta had arrived, but his relationship with Spalletti seemed to be uneasy. The tactician’s grasp of PR and his inability to handle the Icardi situation seemed to exasperate the Inter hierarchy. The results continued to be poor, as Inter exited the Champions League and started to fall off the pace in Serie A. This culminated on Thursday night when the Nerazzurri went out of the Europa League to Eintracht Frankfurt, fielding no recognised striker and instead being forced to throw Primavera teenagers on.

Across the city, things took a very different turn. Gattuso continued to work hard with his players and show that he was not simply a pragmatic Coach, but one who could install the DNA of Milan whilst also producing some stylish football. The January transfer window was a triumph, as they managed to move Higuain on to Chelsea and instead brought in Krzysztof Piatek and Lucas Paqueta, who both hit the ground running. The Pole in particular has continued his incredible scoring record that he began in Genoa and has now notched six Serie A goals in seven games.

The feelgood factor is back in the red and black half with many legendary names passing comment on the progress of the team. Franco Baresi declared that ‘Milan are back’ and it was easy to see why, as they have won seven and drawn three of the last 10 games, taking them to third place, one point ahead of Inter.

The Derby will give the Rossoneri a real chance of distancing themselves from their neighbours and continuing their Champions League charge, perhaps even to catch Napoli, six points ahead in second.

There is no certainty in the Derby Della Madonnina, however, as this is truly a fixture that defies current form. Giovanni Trapattoni should perhaps have the last word on the match he experienced as Coach on both sides, as the game will be played on his 80th birthday. “The Derby is always unpredictable and has never made any favourites, but this time it's even more true.”

Have your say...
Milan have not won the derby (Serie A match only) in 7 straight matches.
Last win was on 31 Jan 2016. That is like more than 3 years ago!

Hahaha! After thought that yesterday was a game Milan will finally win and surely bury Inter by a landslide scoreline, I am sure most of you have your tail between your legs right now.

Forza Inter!
on the 18th March, 2019 at 2:07pm
@Microslav: I 100% agree. And Suso is the weakest of the players. Gattuso was right to sub Paqueta for Castillejo, but wrong in sending Castillejo into the middle of the 4-2-3-1 they started playing. It should have been Suso going to the middle and Castillejo's pace on the outside right. I just don't get this. I still have hope finishing in the top 4, but unfortunately this will mean extending Gattuso's run.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 12:47pm
I wasn't confident of Inter getting a result tonight but they put in the performance of the season.

So Milan fans who made derogatory comments below - get back in your box.
on the 17th March, 2019 at 11:42pm
And against sassuolo we needed an owngoal to win 1:0 in a game we were dominated.

I have watched every game this season and it started to look better again but the last 4 games were not only poor displays. The team did not create 1 decent chance in this 4 games except from setplays until to the last 5 minutes tonight.

I cant believe only i am seeing things that way.

I dont even want to start with questioning the subs today....
on the 17th March, 2019 at 10:43pm
Outclassed and outsmarted by a mediocre inter and spaletti.

When i wrote here after the match against lazio in the coppa many said its only one bad game.
Since then in every game milan failed to play football. Beating chievo with a brilliant strike but not 1 real chance 2:1. chievo was more dangerous throughout the game.
Today our first real chances were created in overtime.

This milan has unfortunatly no clue what to do with the ball and thats directly gattusos fault.

Im really worried....
on the 17th March, 2019 at 10:39pm
This will be Inters / Spaletti / Icardi final nail in coffin,when (IF) they lose.
The Milan derby will never reach the excitement and fierce competition and rivalry of past, especially all through 1990s - 2008.
If they lose, Spaletti goes ...and Icardi gets final notice of contract termination if he doesn’t except their offer, he goes STAT.
Javier Zanetti should get demotion for being complacent.
Enjoy the downward spiral Inter fans.
on the 17th March, 2019 at 6:00pm
If Milan can't win this Derby, I don't know when we'll beat Inter. My prediction is that Milan will take all the points by 3-1. Two from Piatek and one from Hakan. Forza Milan.
on the 17th March, 2019 at 3:02pm
Exactly what Inter needs is a big important game to shake them up. I would much rather be playing Milan than a bottom 4 team parking the bus, counters, faking injury through out the game, faking cramp after 30 mins. For the first time in months, the pressure is on the other team. Milan fans talking about catching Napoli?
on the 17th March, 2019 at 9:01am
Hopefully Milan can take all 3 points and go 7 clear after Roma's defeat today, Very important to keep the momentum going too.
Forza Milan.
on the 17th March, 2019 at 4:47am
After long years, this will be again big and great game. Milan is in good form, Inter have crisis, but for derby this means really nothing. I expect hard game, only few chanches for goal and in the end draw or that one team will win for 1 goal. Winnig team will have nice chances to get in Champions leauge. :)
on the 16th March, 2019 at 9:40pm
This will be the final nail in our season's coffin. If Milan don't beat us by at least 4 goals they should be ashamed. Spalletti, Icardi and the croats have to go in the summer if we're to begin a healing process. We'll finish 5th or 6th so forget 'big' signings. It's time to make the most of our youth system, perhaps Giampaolo or EDF can gradually sculpt a good side with youngsters and a few vets... Forza Inter in futuro.
on the 16th March, 2019 at 6:37pm
Milan will win 3-1 ......forza Milano
on the 16th March, 2019 at 10:05am
forza milan!
on the 16th March, 2019 at 9:35am
Winning this would be a HUGE step towards CL. I cannot wait for this game. Although, my enthusiasm has over the last 5 years let me down.
on the 16th March, 2019 at 8:12am

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