When the smoke settles in San Siro on Saturday night, there will be many answered questions. Both Milan sides have new Coaches, they are involved in projects that are at very different stages, but both need this Derby Della Madonnina victory. There has been criticism thrown at both teams and deservedly so, but this game of games will offer up a chance for one of the ‘misters’ to gain first blood and give their team a well needed boost.
Antonio Conte isn’t always the easiest person to deal with critics, especially when they mention Europe. Desperate to shrug off the label that sticks to him, he wants to prove he cannot ‘only do it in domestic competition’. The draw against Slavia Prague this week did not help matters as, whilst his team selection was questionable, one wouldn’t have imagined seeing, a ‘Conte side’ show so little intensity and fight.
The dressing room tension that followed between Romelu Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic was perhaps a good thing. This was a message delivered, the old way isn’t good enough. Not everyone likes it when a new world is born as, ultimately, it means that an old world dies.
Inter have done what is needed domestically. They thrashed Lecce 4-0 in front of a home crowd who expected no less. Cagliari was a different matter, as the Sardinians proved to be harder opposition, but even so, he Nerazzurri got the job done. Finally, Udinese visited and were also stubborn, but they were dispatched after going down to 10 men. So, what are Conte’s Inter looking like in the daily football betting tips?
For one, they are resilient. Even though the game against Slavia Prague provided the critics ample fodder, Inter gave themselves a lifeline. There hasn’t been the incredible ‘shock and awe’ that many have expected, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come. Defensively they have been shaky at times, but considering they are changing systems, one could argue they have done well.
The Derby is huge for Conte’s new Inter. Not only is it his chance to make his mark on the city and this iconic game, but it is his first really big task. With respect to all that have come before, this is a game that could send a shockwave to the main rivals if won convincingly. Admittedly there will be many who shout ‘it’s too early to judge, it’s only game four’ but think of this: if Inter can topple Milan and make it four wins out of four, then Carlo Ancelotti and Maurizio Sarri will lose sleep.
So, what of Milan? Marco Giampaolo came with the task of developing a team that already existed. By this, one means that whilst there was money to spend, it was not as free-flowing as that of their immediate rivals. He, therefore, became the perfect man to take what he already had and make it better. His time at Sampdoria had given the Rossoneri incredible hope, but as he season started, the cumulative sighs were audible.
There is no shirking away from it. Milan have typified the word drudgery. The displays have been barley watchable and the opener against Udinese saw them lose without having a shot on goal. Brescia was perhaps the best game and the win was merited, but anyone who watched their visit to Hellas Verona has quickly forgotten it.
The Rossoneri have two wins under their belt, but also so many questions that need answering. Admittedly, this is a project that is much more embryonic than Inter’s and whilst a defeat in the Derby Della Madonnina wouldn’t be catastrophic, it would show the magnitude of the task in hand.
The fact shouldn’t be lost when talking about Milan, is that they still have an incredibly talented team and whilst FFP may be taking its toll, the infrastructure should guarantee the Europa League at least. Paolo Maldini spoke this week that silverware is more important than the Derby. He is right, the Derby is important, but it’s never been like the Rome or Genoese version where it is all or nothing.
This is a game that matters, but ultimately and has always been a match that acts a springboard for more. This is a Derby that allows one of the sides to use the feeling of invincibility gathered by the game, to take it to the next step and win a Scudetto. This is a fixture that, if won, allows a city to believe in the direction of a project, the destiny of their team and in turn a greater outcome. This is why first blood is the Derby matters: it isn’t just about the game, it’s about the destination.