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Sunday March 17 2019
Marvellous Madness of the Madonnina

If the Milan Derby has taught us anything over the years, it’s to expect the unexpected, writes Giancarlo Rinaldi, but this had more chaos than quality.

There is something gloriously infuriating about the would-be revivals of these Milanese giants. Every time you think one of them is on the road to recovery, they suffer a setback that undermines all the good work they have done. This was meant to be the derby that emphasised the Rossoneri’s resurgence - and the continuing crisis of their city cousins. We should probably have known how it was going to end.

The Nerazzurri surprised their most bitter rivals with a snarling, snapping start that - following their supine submission in the Europa League - possibly shocked their own support as much as the opposition. This was an in-your-face, up-and-at-them Inter that we had not witnessed for a good while. If they wanted rid of Luciano Spalletti, his team did a good job of concealing that desire.

Within minutes they had the lead against what had been - up until that point - one of the most miserly defences in Europe for this calendar year. Rino Gattuso’s side have built their league recovery on a most sturdy defence, but it looked brittle as an overcooked breadstick.

Matias Vecino regularly found more space to roam in than the South American Pampas. And when Stefan de Vrij doubled Inter’s lead early in the second half, we could have been duped into thinking it was game over. But there is nothing that either of these outfits likes better than stumbling when they look set up for success. As Michael Corleone might have said - just when you think they are out of trouble, they drag themselves back in.

Milan clawed their way into contention in a manner their Coach must have appreciated, but a VAR-confirmed, who-made-the-contact, maybe-it-was-not-a-clear-error penalty restored the “away” team’s two goal lead. But that didn’t last long either, as another gutsy strike gave their rivals hope and provided a grandstand finish. It felt, at times, this was as much about who would throw away their chance least as it was about who would seize it best.

There must be praise for the boys in blue and black for ripping up the expected script of recent months. It is a classic cliche to say the form book goes out the window in a derby, but somebody still had to open it up and toss those pages into the air.

Spalletti - sent to the stands for his latest in an ever-growing collection of histrionics - got more right than wrong on the night. It may not save him his job in the long term but, for a few days he can sleep soundly - at least until the next San Siro saviour comes along.

As for Gattuso’s team, they didn’t go bad overnight, but they seemed to get hustled out of their stride too often and their biggest players failed to deliver. Krzysztof Piatek was well shackled, Suso sparkled only sporadically and Lucas Paqueta was snuffed out and subbed before the game got past its midway point. They can still bounce back, but this was a wake-up call that - for all their recent progress - there remains much work to be done.

Indeed, the same could be said for both teams, as has been mentioned before. It is worth remembering the heights these great clubs have scaled in the past before getting too carried away with any talk of revivals right now. Sunday night’s clash was great entertainment, but there was still a nagging feeling that it underlined as many things wrong with both sides as it did things right.

The cast - especially without the missing Mauro Icardi - was not of the quality that once graced the Stadio Meazza turf for either outfit. This was more of a decent, gripping made-for-TV movie than it was an Oscar-winner.

That, of course, is part of the trouble on either side of this great divide. Fans of both Milan and Inter have been used to having a seat reserved at Europe’s top table and are uncomfortable and impatient when asked to wait in a queue at the drive-thru. But their demise did not happen overnight and nor will the recovery.

It is worth remembering just how far these two teams finished off the Scudetto pace last season and both remain on course to be well adrift again this term. The Rossoneri’s improvement has probably been the more significant, but only because they had fallen further. Bridging the gap to become genuine title contenders still looks some way off.

There are some signs that they are both - finally - on the right path, but they will need time, investment and sensible planning in order to get anywhere near Serie A’s standard-setters Juventus. The supporters have a right to expect them to be up there, but it needs method - not madness - to fulfil their aspirations.

However, it would be churlish to end on a downbeat note about a Derby della Madonnina that delivered five goals, a penalty debate and a reviewed and rescinded red card.

You only had to look at the faces of both sets of fans during this pulsating clash to see what it meant and the emotions it delivered. The choreography, drama and setting of San Siro is still spectacular and that is surely something to build on. Then these two giants can finally construct a fitting future on more solid foundations instead of watching their hopes sink in quicksand time and time and time again.

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Have your say...
@milanfan: You are missing the point - Juve did not go Finnivest to take out a loan and pay interest on a loan to buy deadwood who gets sold for a loss and the team is stuck paying interest on a loss - that's a double loss! Juve self-fianced Higuain's purchase and he took us to a CL final and we made 100 million from CL so it was worth it. by the time Ronaldo gets too old we'll have at least 4 stars on our jersey and a dozen scudetto's in a row !
on the 20th March, 2019 at 9:22pm
@I MISS MARCO BRANCA

Let's see how Piateks market value in 3 years from now. Pretty sure he will be worth more than 35m...
on the 20th March, 2019 at 8:16pm
So because Juve had made 120m from selling Pogba, they can waste it on whoever they want and not be considered a flop or bad signing? Inter are going to sell Icardi at a big profit too, does that mean they get a free pass on criticism too? Hopefully our newest striker is better than the last few. Wev been in shambles for years no milan fan will argue that, but what happens when Ronaldo gets too old?
on the 19th March, 2019 at 11:32pm
@milanfan: let me tell you how Juve paid for Higuain. we had this player we bought for 1 million and his name was Paul Pogba, who was sold for 104 million profit and then Juve purchased Higuain with 14 million Euros left over which by the way, 14 million euros is more money than AC Milan made profit from 2007-2017. Besides, AC milan has a recent history of buying deadwood strikers....just look at Torres and Kalinic as examples.
on the 19th March, 2019 at 6:31pm
Gattuso needs to shake up the tactics and bring in a second striker - Piatek had Kouame at Genoa which enabled him to score week in week out. Cutrone or even Borini will open up space for him to exploit. Hakan and the immense Bakayoko proved in the 2nd half we can operate with a 2 man midfield.

Horror showings from RR68, Paqueta, Suso and Romagnoli cost us badly unfortunately. Samp away next will be another tough one, we must improve.
on the 19th March, 2019 at 5:50pm
This is a nice piece. I find it rooted deep in the spirit that the Derby della Madonnina is played. Inquisitive yet interesting. Analytical yet impartial. Thank you Giancarlo.

About the match. Football is cruel. Milan started with 3 players disfunctioning. Suso, Paqueta and Romagnoli. For the 1st 47min, Milan was playing 7 players against 10. It also tends to punish each aspect of your game. If your left winger goes AWOL their right back will definitely shine! Roma is the example.
Forza Milan
on the 19th March, 2019 at 6:47am
I miss marco branca - I don't know much about inters owners but didn't they just turn over like 30 billion this year? pretty sure running out of money won't be an issue for them and that was with FFP. Also juve spent almost the same amount on higuain. We had him for 6 months and couldn't wait to send him back to you. Just like Chelsea will. All teams sign duds at some point. Milan have way too many
on the 18th March, 2019 at 11:09pm
I MISS MARCO BRANCA: Whilst I don't think any Inter fan can defend our history of signing horrendous players, I do think we have been unlucky at times - Kondogbia being a case in point. Everyone praised the signing at the time and €40m was seen as somewhat of a bargain based on his potential. Obviously it didn't work out for him and as for Gabigol, he simply didn't get given a chance. But I agree we need some clever spending on quality players who will actually play and will strengthen the team.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 8:24pm
@viktor i too was annoyed by the referee in the heat of the game but in the end the better team won and not beause var was bot used or any other referee error.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 8:20pm
After the second even 4: castillejo, calha, calabria and kessie

Thats just bringing chaos into a team that needs to trail a bad result. Thats no managerial skills at all. Throwing in every offensive player u have and totaly rewamping the formation is madness at that time. Thats my opinion.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 8:17pm
Biglia is not gonna hit a free kick from 25 meters (1st against chievo) every game and not every game our opponents will beat themselfes (own goal sassuolo).

Im a big milan fan watching every game, i even was at the stadium 4 times this season and i still cheer for them if we drop out of seria a BUT that doesnt mean that i like what i see and what i see, i must say it again, WOORIES ME!!!

As for the subs: afterthe first sub 2 players were playing out of position ( chalha and castillejo)
on the 18th March, 2019 at 8:13pm
@acm north i am not judging after this match. I allready was worried after the coppa clash with lazio. (Anti - football for 90 minutes) the 2 wins against sas and chievo where just terrible to watch. No ideas no chances created relying on luck and free kicks entirely.
With yesterdays defeat it makes 4 terrible showings in the row. One may argue that the results were ok the first 3 games BUT we created not one chance out of play in all these games until last night in the final minutes...
on the 18th March, 2019 at 8:07pm
@ milanfan: Inter will definitely take it to Juve next year now that they aren't bound by FFP......well if they continue to spend 115 million on crap like Kondogbia, Gabi-one-gol and Joao Mario while Juve spends that same amount of money on Cristiano Ronaldo they will go bankrupt in no time.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 5:39pm
Roma lost again and have a much harder schedule than us, we must just go out and get a win against Sampdoria now and not let the derby derail us, as anything can happen in a derby match so it is not representative. As for the people slating Hakan what game were you watching, once he was moved into the midfield he was our best player. lets not forget we were so close to a draw with that Cutrone bullet at the end, we get a draw and I bet no on here is slating the players like they are.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 3:53pm
Gattuso approached the game wrong, we seemed scared and nervous for the first 20 mins. Romagnoli unusually was probably ta fault for the first 2 goals. Vecino was also constantly free as we got swamped in midfield. As for Paqueta he has played a full season for Flamengo already and his fatigue is starting to show. We were unlucky but then again Inter shouldve gone into half time 3-0 up so they probably deserved the win. So long as we maintain this winning against the bottom sides we will be fine
on the 18th March, 2019 at 3:51pm
@Paolo LOLOLOL At least our striker tries to play when you have a little fool who lets his wife running his life. Oh how's your knee ... Don't come here and even talk about strikers. Icardi is a massive joke and you know it. Well see how the season ends, I'm pretty certain Lazio will destroy you.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 2:16pm
I find it funny that people question the penalty but disregard the fact that Milan's second goal had Piatek interfering with play. Politano was tripped in the box, a foul in the box is still a penalty last time i checked. Inter has been on a terrible run of form and woke up for this game, without two of our best players(Icardi and Naingo). Milan had a full squad to choose from so i believe we fully deserved the result. Now that we have only one competition to play i expect better results.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 1:27pm
@Maldini's Heir: The player I'm always most frustrated with is Suso. No dribbling skills, slow, can't cross -did I mention slow?- and has been a huge liability for 2 months now. Pretty much every game if seen in that period it's the same. Gattuso for all his "courage" has none when it comes to benching him. When Castillejo came on and they switched to 4-2-3-1 Suso should have gone to the middle with Samu on the right. Gattuso is to blame. Unfortunately CL qualification will extend his tenure.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 1:02pm
It`s not time for blaming some scapegoats. It`s time to fight and support. Forza Milan.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 11:22am
Now everybody talking crap - "Gattuso is worst possible coach for ACM". "Suso must go, Hakan must go", "Milan have no clue, what to do with the ball", "Milan have no pace, that`s why we can`t reach our objectives. My advice for fans (and players too) - Relax, nothing really apocalyptical happened. We`ve had a good run and now suffered first los in seria a this year. We are in a decent position the table. We still can catch Inter, it can happen even next game-day.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 11:21am
I really didn`t like approach for this game, that came from media and most of the fans. "Milan must win, because they are in a good shape", "Inter was demoralised by Eintracht and Icardi`s situation, so now it`s not real team at all", "It would be shame, if Milan lose this one" etc. This was bad approach. Maybe, even, this took some place in players minds and influenced the game.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 11:10am
I personally think Milan has all the goods and advantages with wins from previous games and the informed Piatek. Alas, that was not to be Milan nights as Inter outdo Milan strategy with cunning like a snake. Now Inter have double the win and Milan is Blue-Black.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 10:37am
You cant expect CL when you have a bum like Kessie starting.
Did Piatek pkay at all or what, i didnt notice him.

6 derbys without defeat now. Inter own the city of Milan.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 10:35am
Considering we played not very good result was right I guess. But how that penalty wasn't checked on VAR is BEYOND me. I don't see any trust at all in VAR, its used however the referee pleases.

On another note, that save on 90th from Cutrone, as Maldinis heir said, would have made it a draw.

I truly want to get right of Hakan, Suso, and to be honest possible Kessie too.

We need someone with pace and when Castillejo came at least we had some pace.
Any idea why Paqueta was taken out?
on the 18th March, 2019 at 8:43am
We need quality options on the bench when things go wrong. Nobody was assisting Bakayoko in midfield. The supply line to Piatek remains a problem. And our decision-making when in attack not adding up. Kessie, Paqueta not doing the business on the day. It will be a cliff-hanger for the Rossoneri if we do not inject live into our midfield. Too many gaps created by Inter in attack and they literally ran holes through our midfield...we were just not compact enough to deal with their transitions play
on the 18th March, 2019 at 8:19am
Not too disappointed, we played much better than last match against inter. They are clearly more settled with a superior squad. We are still 3 or so seasons away from competing. Inter will definitely take it to Juve next year now that they aren't bound by FFP
on the 18th March, 2019 at 6:35am
Not too disappointed, we played much better than last match against inter. They are clearly more settled with a superior squad. We are still 3 or so seasons away from competing. Inter will definitely take it to Juve next year now that they aren't bound by FFP
on the 18th March, 2019 at 6:35am
Not too disappointed, we played much better than last match against inter. They are clearly more settled with a superior squad. We are still 3 or so seasons away from competing. Inter will definitely take it to Juve next year now that they aren't bound by FFP
on the 18th March, 2019 at 6:34am
Can't judge Milan's progress by what is usually the most chaotic game anywhere, it respects no logic or form. Still a very disappointing outcome.
I'm starting to question Gatusso's grasp on tactics esp in big games. As for the players, Suso is predictable, Bakayoko is B2B not a regista and Chala is not a winger, he looked much better in MF, Paqueta & Suso need to release the ball faster almost 100% of the time esp Paqueta, Rodrigez offers absolutely nothing, & we need more speed & physicality.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 3:41am
Having said all that despite everything we could easily have drawn the game when Cutrone. We fought back well and at the end of the day it was not a game we HAD to win because Roma lost. But we need to get back to winning ways next game.
on the 18th March, 2019 at 3:26am

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