The circumstances are certainly different. In addition to the empty stadiums, the second wave of COVID-19 has hit Europe and this has resulted in several players testing positive for the virus. One day your star could be available, the other he could be in quarantine. A new (and completely unpredictable) aspect for the coaches.
Nevertheless, the games are going ahead as per the regulations, at least giving us fans something to cherish in these difficult times. And the Derby Della Madonnina, regardless of the teams' form, is a game that the fans very much look forward to. Tomorrow is the big day, with kick-off scheduled for 18:00 CET.
Inter should be considered as the favourites despite Milan's impressive form, but it's also true that derbies are notoriously hard to predict. Perhaps this is part of what makes the game so special, as every year you see the two sets of fans arguing over which side are actually better.
This time, however, the Rossoneri's chances of winning the clash have increased.
1. The Rossoneri are better than ever
This is something that Rossoneri fans haven't experienced in a long while. An unbeaten run of 19 games across all competitions. Pioli has certainly turned things around after what was a disastrous start to last season under Marco Giampaolo.
In 2020, Milan have conceded the fewest goals amongst the teams present in both seasons (22 goals). Simon Kjaer has been tremendous at the back and his usual partner, Alessio Romagnoli, has returned for this game. Point being, the Rossoneri have transformed for the better in both phases of the game.
2. Ibrahimovic has returned
In addition to Pioli, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been extremely important for Milan since his arrival in January, both on and off the pitch. He has missed the last three games and will be eager to show his qualities once again, especially since the opponents are Inter. Against them, with Milan, he has been involved in five goals in four games.
Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri have faced some tough news as the likes of Alessandro Bastoni, Roberto Gagliardini, Milan Skriniar, Radja Nainggolan, Ionut Radu and Ashley Young have tested positive for COVID-19. Stefano Sensi will also miss the game due to a suspension.
Antonio Conte has enough depth to cover for the absences, at least in the starting eleven, but it's undeniably not ideal for the coach. The Rossoneri will be hoping to get an advantage against what will be a makeshift defence for the home side.
3. The negative trend has to end at some point
As highlighted by Opta, Inter have won their last four league games against Milan. The Nerazzurri have only had a longer such streak in the derby between 1979 and 1983 (five wins in a row). Obviously, Milan will want to change this trend and now is certainly the time to do it.
Inter’s legend Gianluca Pagliuca has also highlighted, in an exclusive interview with Football Italia, how Inter are without a defeat in Serie A derbies in the last four years and for ‘law of averages says, sooner or later, it must come’. The last time Milan won a derby against Inter was in their Coppa Italia meeting in December 2017, while the last triumph of the Rossoneri in Serie A is dated back to January 2016.
After many years of struggles, the Rossoneri are finally strong mentally, which is an aspect you can't underestimate for these big games. In the post-lockdown period, they managed to beat Juventus, Lazio and Roma, looking a lot more comfortable against what is known as the 'top six teams'.
Milan are better equipped now than they have been in the recent past and if there’s a time to end their derby’s negative streak it is certainly now.