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Monday February 10 2020
Inter so much more than Ibra

Zlatan Ibrahimovic revitalised Milan for 45 minutes, but Inter had a collective to rely on and that will always trump individuals, writes Giancarlo Rinaldi.

It would have been easier, surely, to lie down and accept defeat. Dominated for half the match, missing a couple of key players and trailing by two goals to a side transformed by the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, there were plenty of reasons to raise the white flag. But when you’ve been starved of the Scudetto for so long, you don’t give up without a fight. This Inter side has reserves of character and commitment the club seems to have been lacking for a lifetime.

The familiar script of failure would have been a straightforward one to write. With the door left open by Juve’s surprise defeat to Verona, how typically Nerazzurro it would have been - at least in recent times - to mess things up. And, for 50 minutes or so, it appeared they had blown their chance big time. Milan, meanwhile, looked unrecognisable to the lacklustre bunch we had seen for much of this campaign.

Who knows what Antonio Conte said to his troops at half-time? Rarely this season has his team been so drab and unconvincing as it was in the opening exchanges of this Derby della Madonnina. Presented with a golden opportunity to get back to the top of the table, most of us expected them to come snarling out of the blocks. Instead, they were about the most timid and tentative we have witnessed them all campaign long.

Much credit, of course, must go to their city rivals who finally appear to have ditched the mask of mediocrity they have worn for much of this season. Indeed, at half-time, I had my keyboard warming up for a tribute to the curative powers of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Not only had he provided a goal and an assist, but he also appeared to have aided many team-mates who had previously been afflicted with crippling ineffectiveness. Ante Rebic, Hakan Calhanoglu, Franck Kessie and, by goodness, even Samu Castillejo looked to have been touched by his healing hand. Not a miracle, perhaps, but - in sporting terms anyway - not far short.

For those of us, myself included, who felt the Rossoneri’s big January signing was more about placating irate fans than any real footballing need, it was a painful kick in our credibility. Too old? Too long away from the top level? Too slow? We were thinking in human terms, of course, not those of a red and black lion.

That might have been a nice tale to tell - along with the redemption of Stefano Pioli - but it was not to be. Ibra smacked a chance off the woodwork late in the day, but by then the game had been turned on its head. An epic strike by Marcelo Brozovic - who else? - began a comeback which belted out a message once again, for those who have not been listening, that this Inter side means business.

There’s spirit right through the team, even when a couple of less-than-convincing interventions by Daniele Padelli had fans mourning the absence of Samir Handanovic. And, when first half chances went begging and were in short supply, the camera gave a cruel close-up of Lautaro Martinez sitting in the stands. But those who could influence the game - the players actually out on the pitch - delivered a tour de force.

Nicolò Barella buzzed about with snapping intent, Matias Vecino got through a power of work to link midfield and attack and Stefan de Vrij showed the sort of never-say-die attitude which is guaranteed to inspire everyone around you. Milan might still be hanging on to an individual to inspire their progress, the Nerazzurri look much more of a collective.

It’s not perfect, of course, and that is what makes this title run-in so intriguing. Juve are prone to slip-ups and faltering performances, while Lazio have kept themselves right in the hunt. Inter will need more displays like the one they produced in the derby if they hope to emerge on top come the end of the season.

It was hard not to feel a little sorry for Milan when the final whistle sounded. They had played pretty much perfectly in the opening exchanges before their city rivals finally clicked into gear. There was much to admire - the metronomic Ismael Bennacer in particular - but it was just not enough to hold back the tide when it eventually turned.

There was enough there to suggest, however, that a European finish is quite likely rather than the ridiculous dream it has seemed at some points this season. As for Inter, they have clearly got their eyes on a bigger prize and, on a stunning San Siro Sunday night, they showed once again they have no intention of giving up on it anytime soon.

Have your say...
BTW Krzysztof Piątek lost another coach in Klinsmann earlier this week. That means 8 (eight!) coaches in 1 1/2 season. There is a fatality over that lad.
on the 13th February, 2020 at 2:20pm
After reading the nonsense this gee clown is writing i cannot believe that i was sometimes annoyed by viktors almost diplomatic approach.
on the 13th February, 2020 at 9:59am
Ask any Ultra of any club if they miss a derby match, you will not get good or happy response from them.

So many keyboard warriors and playstation boys
on the 12th February, 2020 at 7:44pm
It seems like that theres quite a few keyboard warriors on here giving excuses for a so called Milan fan who didnt watch the match.
Maybe thats the difference between me and the rest (tu sei tutte la mia vita), i cancel everything for this 1 day.
Someone cant not watch a match
Yet give opinions like their the experts of the game and best managers in the world.

Interisti in masks
on the 12th February, 2020 at 9:56am
@Maldini's Heir... exactly what @snakeskin said "Nobody should be telling you how to be a fan" this needs to be pinned in every football forums or comments section. I'm an Inter and enjoy reading well thought comments, including yours, keep it up.
on the 11th February, 2020 at 3:12pm
@Maldini's Heir don't worry about what this Gee fella says I do the same thing you do because I as a man you probably have responsibilities that come before your team I love Inter and watch every game maybe not live but I stay off the internet and tell ppl that may know about the game not to tell me the result and I understand once you know the score it's hard to watch especially if your team loses but your opinions on the club you love are yours and nobody should be telling you how to be a fan
on the 11th February, 2020 at 2:03am
@ Gee The game was on in the middle of the night where I live. I usually go to work and try to avoid seeing the results, and then watch the game live the next evening. Doing this I've watched nearly every Milan game this season and for the last terrible 7 even taking in the odd trip to the San Siro when I'm back in Europe. Unfortunately on this occasion the result crept onto the home page of a news site that I was on. If I'm criticising my team it's because we're 10th.....
on the 10th February, 2020 at 11:38pm
Yes, Gee...
If you are a huge fan, you can't miss a derby. You know so many months in advance when it will happen so there are no excuses! (Switch shifts, take a day off...)

...But you don't know "Maldini's Heir".
Maybe he's a doctor & had to perform an operation?
There are jobs & obligations that you can't shove off!

As for funerals, luckily no one important died in your life. When that happens, for months EVERYTHING becomes irrevelant.
You realise THERE ARE BIGGER THINGS IN LIFE THAN SPORT.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 11:34pm
The problem with the Milan Loss was purely tactical. It’s all on PIOLI . Why wait until the 80th minute to make changes I would have made my first substitution the 65 minutes mark at the very last. Once Inter scored 2 goals PIOLi had no clue how to respond. The defending was mediocre especially on the 4th goal. The Loss is on PIOLI not on the Lads
on the 10th February, 2020 at 11:13pm
@Gee
Keep your silly and rude comments to yourself, they have no place here. I never post here, but I enjoy reading Maldini's Heir comments and opinions. Why on earth would you encourage someone to stop posting well-thought out stuff here? And family funeral and work comes second to a derby? Pfft :-D
on the 10th February, 2020 at 11:03pm
Maldini's Heir consistently makes good points about the lack of strategy & leadership @ ACM. Criticisms about missing the game are a waste of time. Ibra is filling a few needs but he is not a solution on his own + their winter transfer strategy does not seem to fit within a sustainable plan. Inter were terrible in the 1st half, this is worrying as it looked tactical. Being out strategized by Pioli is not promising. Conte brings effort, ethic, morale but fluidity & adaptability are important too.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 9:49pm
@ Gee
“If you have work then ... call in sick, say you have an family emergency.”

Looks like lying comes so natural to you that you openly and shamelessly encourage others to follow suit (that means "doing the same" in case you got lost on that last bit)
Well are you ready for a shocking surprise?
Most of us don’t live in your world and utterly despise characters like you.
Now try to show some respect and hurry up ... the funeral is still waiting!
on the 10th February, 2020 at 9:26pm
@Gee... grow up, get some life! I guess you still stick your parents!
on the 10th February, 2020 at 9:21pm
Maldini Heir
I see you criticising Milan in every forum worse than a Milan fan, you have nothing good to say even when the team plays well, always criticising every player.

Now that you havent watched the derby you should leave. In fact even Inter fans wouldnt even want you on there side.
Maybe you are a Interista in a mask
on the 10th February, 2020 at 8:11pm
@Dennis and @Maldini Heir
Yes like i said even if it was a family funeral, the funeral waits until the derby.
If you have work then take the take off, call in sick, say you have an family emergency.
Don't pretend be a Milanists but dont watch the biggest match of the year and then have an opinion on a match that you never watched.
Its the Milan derby, clearly just a keyboard warrior, stick to the playstation.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 8:00pm
Very strange game, almost 2 different games played at different times of the year within 1 match. I will say that the inter midfield improved drastically from the 50th min and that overall Milan is on the right track. Ibra, Rebic, Theo, Gigio could be enough to propel this team into Europe. They were devastating in the first half, now they just need a manager to keep their heads straight for 95 mins. Much respect to Milan though.
Props to Milan, Forza Inter
on the 10th February, 2020 at 8:00pm
Game of two halves.
I missed the first 15 minutes (technical difficulties) but I couldn’t believe how well Milan handled the first half. Then when we missed another two good chances, that Istanbul feeling somehow started to creep in … @#$%&*!!!!
Inter looked scary confident in the second half, as if they didn’t want to score on purpose, just to ratchet up the atmosphere. They were certain of their victory and deserve to be joint leaders with Juve.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 5:47pm
The difference a coach and timing can make. I knew the 2-0 lead at half was not safe. It gave time for Conte to motivate his players at half. They came out fired up and scored quickly and gained momentum. Milan caved under this pressure. If they had took the lead later in the game I don't see Inter coming back.

That to me is the difference between Conte and others. In half adjustments he struggles but at half their is no one better at motivation.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 4:06pm
Brozovic il capitano! Great volley to inspire the comeback, and with his weaker left foot no less.
Too bad they’re too sluggish with their passing in the 1st half. Vecino is a decent box to box midfielder who knows when to make run into the box and position himself to score, but his passing let him down. Only make horizontal passes. There should be one more creative MF starting (either sensi or eriksen) besides epicbrozo. The CBs should’ve been more involved with the build up play as well.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 2:03pm
The defending was terrible (with the exception of De Vrij) by both sides but I suppose that is what made the game so entertaining.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 1:55pm
What a show of propensity! It wass a Dare-Devil perfomance from us!! Keep finishes matches like this pazza Inter will turn out in our favour!
on the 10th February, 2020 at 1:52pm
AC Milan played well, but for the best 50mins or so. Should continue to pressed but didn't do so. You can't do that to a Conte's side. Inter suddenly turned up in the 2nd half and it was a runaway train. I agreed with those that individuals don't always win you matches. Teamwork does that. From the goolie to the strikers, all worked together. Congrats Inter Milan for the outstanding reaction from 0-2 down.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 12:30pm
I was at the San Siro in November 2006 to see Inter 4 Milan 3 back in the day when both teams were full of the words best and I believe Ibra was playing for Inter that night.What a game last night and what a game that night.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 12:12pm
I pray this continues and we have an exciting finish to Serie A finally.Shame that Inter and Lazio play each other because it suits Juve who I really don't want to see win yet another league title.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 12:08pm
@Gee no need to be harsh Maldini’s heir clearly stated he was at work. Yes people do work on Sundays or are you suggesting he should not go to work because of the Milan derby? Pioli must be the only manager to rake charge of both teams, go 2-0 up and still contrive not to win the game when playing each other. Milan keep playing well against the top sides but coming up short in the end. Inter cannot afford the 1st half selection and performance against Lazio as they,d get beaten.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 11:12am
Although Inter have a harder run of matches coming up compared to Juve and Lazio but they have the most passion with every player wanting to make a mark from Alexis to Eriksen. Having Handa back will be a huge boost of confidence but even with Padelli there’s no better time to go through a number of key matches than now.If Juve slipped again and Inter became the only top team you can bet your money he won’t give up that position even if he have to play with 10 players on the field.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 7:48am
would have loved to be in the change room at half time. Can only imagine the grilling the players got to come out that fired up. Was literally a different side in the second half, hitting passes, actually pressing, looking energetic, why couldn't inter start like that? Best part? Lautaro, Sensi and Handa will all come back into the team. Plus Eriksen still on the bench. Inter seriously looking good!!!
on the 10th February, 2020 at 5:31am
very disappointed with the result. We were so good in the first half, or inter were really poor. Second half was a massacre. Ibra hit the post (albeit was a free against so wouldn't have counted, barella missed an easy 1v1 and eriksens wonder hit was literally a cm from going in, could quite easily have been a 6 goal against second half. Saying conte could make this team top 4? LOL god himself couldn't achieve that.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 5:27am
Maldini Heir talks about Liverpool this and Liverpool that, he has time to watch Liverpool but he doesnt have time to watch the Milan derby but calls himself Maldini heir and wants to criticise Milan. 
on the 10th February, 2020 at 2:29am
INTER did not win the derby, Milan gave the derby away.
on the 10th February, 2020 at 2:25am

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