Thursday October 8 2020
Derby dilemmas for Inter


Alessandro Bastoni and Milan Skriniar tested positive for COVID-19 and are only the last dilemmas Inter coach Antonio Conte is facing ahead of next week’s Milan derby, writes Richard Hall.


There will be no billowing smoke from the flares rising up from the Curva this time. There will be no guttural roars as the teams take to the pitch, no huge tifos taunting the opposition but it will still be the Derby Della Madonnina. The season is well underway now and the transfer window has banged shut, Antonio Conte knows that he has had the backing of the owners and now it is down to him to prove that their faith was justified. Inter have started well but they still have issues to iron out and will be mindful of these before taking on the Rossoneri.

Speaking to DANZ, Conte professed that he was happy with his team’s performance against Lazio. He noted that his team had lost this fixture last season and felt overall that his men out performed the Romans. He claimed that the home side actually scored when Inter were playing some of their best football of the game but did not seem worried about this fact. It is true that the Nerazzurri were dominating when Serj Milinkovic-Savic scored but this is an issue with this seasons Inter.

The fact that the football the Nerazzurri has displayed has looked chaotic is not simply down to them. The lack of a pre-season and the mentality/urgency of the players without fans is certainly all to blame but Conte seems to have embraced the chaos. His team attacks with purpose but perhaps with little regard for their own safety. The opening game saw them concede three, score four. The second game they conceded twice, scored five and finally the 1-1 draw with Lazio. One could argue that they were better defensively against Le Aquile but the goal came when they were over committed up the pitch, it will be something they have to address against Milan.

In the interview, Conte did touch on one of the problems. He praised Achraf Hakimi and the prodigal son, Ivan Perisic and rightly so to some extent. Hakimi for one has been electric and made all of Serie A sit up and take note, his goals and assists have been welcome from wide positions. Perisic too has been excellent going forward and has look at home in the cavalier approach but this is not the issue. The ‘mister’ acknowledged the fact that both players have to improve defensively and this is evident. It is arguable if Perisic will ever be able to convert to a wing back and therefore can you play him when Hakimi is in the other side? For a coach who seems obsessed with wingbacks this is a dilemma for him.

Defensive issues do not stop there. Alessandro Bastoni has tested positive for COVID-19 and will have a retest. The same goes for Milan Skriniar who, with a second positive swab, will have to remain in Slovakia for two weeks. With Diego Godin (last year’s dependable replacement) now in Sardinia, Conte will have to come up with another solution. Samir Handanovic will also have to be on form as whilst his shot stopping is never in doubt his ability to play out from the back (as with many goalkeepers recently) is being painfully exposed.

Perhaps the goalkeeper can train as an outfield player as Conte tries to solve another headache. He has only eight players available to train this week. Italy’s pink paper pointed out that Andrea Ranocchia, Matteo Darmian, Roberto Gagliardini, Radja Nainggolan and Ashley Young will be accompanied by the goalkeepers, Handanovic, Ionut Radu and Daniele Padelli a frustration as the time on the training pitch has been limited. The other players face coming back from International duty jaded but especially the South Americans, Lautaro Martinez, Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez may not get back to Milan until two days before the Derby.

There is no doubt that despite all of this Inter will still be confident even though they will be facing a Milan side in good form themselves. They are scoring goals and will hope to overwhelm their opponents and they have the firepower to do so. There are however, elements that still need improvement and if they can do this then the Derby could be a statement of intent. Conte has made it clear that the Scudetto must be in Inter’s sights and with Genoa and Parma on the horizons the Nerazzurri have the chance to show what they are made of.


Words Richard Hall


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Have your say...
At least Inter have defenders to play. With Gabbia out, Milan will probably have to play Kessie there.

But the number of infections in both teams are going up by the day. At this rate by the time they have to play both teams will have to field their youth teams.

It should go ahead anyway in my opinion, otherwise might as well cancel the league.
on the 9th October, 2020 at 2:05pm
Juve fan here. Looking forward to the derby but in all honesty, those COVID-19 issues are seriously affecting my love for calcio, let alone my enthusiasm for football in general. Just look at the Juve-Napoli confusion, now Inter vs Milan is going to be seriously affected as well. Anyway, good luck to both teams, may the best one win :-)
on the 9th October, 2020 at 11:20am
@Conte inter

That's all nice and peachy, but I guess you don't even watch your team's matches. Sensi was sent off against Lazio. He's suspended buddy.
on the 9th October, 2020 at 11:15am
Conte has nothing to moan about, he got all the defenders he wanted and can now show everyone why he was so desperate to bring in Darmian and Kolorov. Maybe a back 3 of Darmian, Rano, Kolorov is what he will play
on the 9th October, 2020 at 9:03am
I've been critical of Milan's transfers this summer and the number of players signed and the size of the squad, but I acknowledge that there are unique circumstances this season. Ultimately this season, if it does finish, could come down to the lottery of which team gets the least infections! Anyway it'll be interesting!
on the 9th October, 2020 at 1:38am
Skriniar and bastoni are big losses to our first XI but Radja and gags are not. However we are playing Milan not juve, using de vrij with D’Ambrosio and one of Darmian, kolarov or rano will be fine. They don’t have a big attacking threat. The longer ibra is positive the less time he has to prepare. A midfield of barella, Vidal and sensi would be fire. Then throw in Brozovic and eriksen in the second half to make them sweat. Sanchez will have enough in the tank for a second half appearance too!!
on the 9th October, 2020 at 1:05am
Even with 4 players out with COVID, inter have a vastly stronger team than us. When ibra comes back next week he’s going to lack match fitness, same with rebic and roma. We will struggle to score and lautaro and lukaku are likely to have a field day. Hopefully tonali can show inter what they passed on!! Although hasn’t impressed so far.
on the 9th October, 2020 at 12:58am
get ready for another "Contenata" if inter drop points in the Derby!!
on the 8th October, 2020 at 8:20pm
Like Milan don't have any concerns. As of now, we have more problems than Inter.
on the 8th October, 2020 at 3:20pm
We're susceptible to fast pace and trickery, especially of Hakan, without Bastoni and Skriniar... their absence is a heavy loss and difficult to cope but hopefully Conte tries to match Milan's system and play a 4 at the back with SDV and Rannochia, flanked by D'Ambrosio and Kolarov, playing four in midfield, Barella, Radja, Brozovic/Vidal, and Eriksen, with La-Lu up top... Players are going to catch covid, hopefully these two won't catch it again and will be fit for the rest of the season.
on the 8th October, 2020 at 2:27pm

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