Sunday February 21 2021
Derby spotlight confirms Inter and Milan status

Inter ruled the roost in the Derby della Madonnina, but Susy Campanale feels the season had already turned for both Milan clubs before this.

This was the biggest Milan Derby in a decade, the first time since 2011 that both local rivals were in the top two when they faced off at San Siro. After years of Nerazzurri fans mocking Yonghong Li and the tiny transfer budget, they find themselves with Suning ready to pack up their bags and the future uncertain. They won’t like to admit it, but the clubs and their fans are more similar than different. What we saw – and above all heard – this afternoon only confirms that.

They’ve all got very short memories and love to pile in insulting the very players and coaches who should be praised. Milan go unbeaten in a year with a squad that has nowhere near as much strength in depth or even quality in the starting XI as their rivals, yet suddenly people are turning on Stefano Pioli and calling for big changes. No, Pioli has not ‘bottled it.’ He never had a bottle to begin with, more like a magic lantern to get the results he has done out of this team in the last 12 months.

Inter fans have spent all season trying to find Samir Handanovic replacements, criticising his distribution, saying he is slow to get down and make saves. For all the 3-0 result, it was only 1-0 when Handanovic performed three world-class saves in the space of three minutes on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sandro Tonali. After all the years this goalkeeper stayed at Inter when he deserved a far better team and this is the thanks he gets?

Some called those saves the ‘Sliding Doors’ moment, when a game was transformed, maybe even a season. He lets one of those in, Milan are level, their tails are up, the momentum changes. Instead, Inter hold on, can play on the counter and win 3-0.

The Milan Derby could also be seen as the moment when the season changed, but the truth is this has been coming for quite a while now. The Rossoneri have already lost more games in 2021 than throughout all of 2020, Inter had all week to prepare for this fixture and Milan were in Belgrade on Thursday night battling to a 2-2 draw with Crvena Zvezda. The 2-0 defeat to Spezia is the Sliding Doors moment, allowing Inter to leapfrog them at the top with a victory over on-form Lazio.

After years of scraping around the edges of the top seven, you’d think Milan fans would be grateful to at least be challenging for the leadership more than midway through the campaign, having been crowned Winter Champions. Instead, they are already espousing apocalyptic visions of failing to qualify for Europe this season and finding their next coach after Pioli. Do they not remember where they were a year ago?

Everything is going Inter’s way this season, that is undeniable. They spent more money in recent years to bolster the squad, and bring in Antonio Conte, while crashing out of the Champions League in the opening round ended up boosting their Scudetto prospects, especially in such a cramped campaign.

Do Inter play the prettiest football in the world? Of course not, that has never been Conte’s style, nor has he ever wanted to be a Pep Guardiola or Gian Piero Gasperini. His approach is brute force, which is why Romelu Lukaku is the perfect centre-forward for the coach. When he activates Beast Mode, there is simply no stopping the Belgium international. He’s more than just power, though, as despite the ‘donkey’ mockery from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lukaku does have plenty of skill and is more likely to assist a teammate than Ibra. He talks constantly to his teammates and the coach, switching languages even when expressing irritation or joy. After the goal, he shouted: “I told you, dammit! Pass it to me. I told you!”

The 3-0 result in the derby won’t change the season, because it just confirms the trends that we’d been seeing since the start of 2021. We learned nothing we didn’t already know. Inter have a stronger squad and as the season wore on, the pressure grew for them to win the Scudetto or flop completely. Milan are not in that position, nor should they be. The aim is top four for Pioli and if he achieves that, it’ll be frankly a fantastic outcome. If Conte doesn’t win the title from here, well, that’s a very different scenario.

It's Inter’s title to lose, but we didn’t discover that this afternoon. It was always on the cards. Now let’s see how they do with the pressure of being favourites.

Have your say...
@ Milan Fan - if the Milan clubs did not have to deal with corrupt Platini's farcical fair play for the last decade, they would have been fighting for the top spot every year. Where is FFP now? The pandemic has proven just how stupid an idea it has been, Orwellian in the case of man City and PSG.
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 10:08am
@Anonymous. Suzy has been writing for this website and the magazine since I moved to the UK as a 13 year old in 1998. She knows more about football and Serie a than you've had hot dinners.
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 9:39am
Well observed piece. I do enjoy how hissy the Interisti are even when all of it is going their way. Hilarious lads!
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 9:00am

By now you'd think ppl realised other ppl are writing under Viktor.

As for the "cracks" you are referring to, Yesterday as I wrote before was an unfortunate event with 2 counter goals, one when we were inches away from making it 1-1... Inter deserved the win, but winning 3-0 well... that's rather flattering wouldn't you say.
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 7:12am
I did not write anything about Bennacer.

I placed some money on Inter yesterday as I was pretty certain they would win. A really sour ROI. However, lets be fair, even if some Inter fans claim they were dominating the game, the score is very generous to Inter. Hando did 3 miracle saves, like absurd reflexes, on top of that Inter after 1-0 were sitting back, and counter two nice goals. If you look at possession and passes the game was balanced. Shame Inter got that early goal, decided the game.
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 7:09am
@viktor lol one Bennacer isn't going to make a difference. Milan's problems are far worse than just missing one player. It's not like he has been really good this season either. He started against Spezia and was completely invisible.

Just admit that Inter are stronger, there's no shame in that. Milan had been over-performing but they're returning to their true level that is still below Serie A's top teams. You guys don't even have an established right winger.
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 5:24am
It's fine.Without any European competition to play in, Conte will win the league. Then next season, when in Champ League, he will complain that the club isn't buying him who he wants. Then he will fight with the management. Seen this story over and over. Go to hell, you traitor
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 5:15am
A nice article to comfort Milan fans. It’s ok penalties might start coming again soon. Juve and Udinese showed how to play against Inter and get away without a loss. Milan copied what Lazio did and got punished there’s just too much pace and quality to invite them to play counter attacking. How can it be ugly football if a team is scoring more goals than any other in the league.
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 1:23am
this really funny, is writer milan fans who trying to find excuse or what? agree pioli doing great job and blaming him is not gonna help but saying milan squad weak and dont have capability to win league is debateable. sure their are young squad and can progress further in the future but their are not mediocre squad, they have all reason to believe can push rube or inter all the way to finish lane. saying everythings already set stone before even the derby inter win was really lame excuse
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 1:08am
Now lets focus on the better team of Milan.

Lukaku demonstrated whos the boss of Milan. Quite an advantage when your strikers can also run lol. Go home Zlatan you old man, its over.

Barella demonstrating hes world class again.

Eriksen very good, hes the best passer in the team, clearly hes in better shape now.

Perisic absolutely dominating on left side. Best Inter match from him. Still need to be more consistent. Shout out to Calabria or whatever his name is, what a horrible right back lol.
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 12:52am
You can just tell the frustration and sadness from the writer that Inter is top of Serie A. LOL.

Well if thats her way of coping, so be it. Dry your eyes, dont be so sad haha.
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 12:42am
Not impressed with writing none factual stats about the season, get better writers.
on the 22nd February, 2021 at 12:06am
not criticising Pioli, but I think he has been tactically inflexible / naive, especially as Milan haven't done well for 7-8 games. Teams have worked to neutralise the wingers so when Milan lose possession, Ibra, the wingers and the completely useless Hakan are out of the game. all is then left is a ball over the top to take out the two midfielders and then you have the opposition bearing down on the defenders. Inter are far ahead of Milan in terms of their development. Milan's aim is top 4.
on the 21st February, 2021 at 11:54pm
@inter - funnily enough a friend said exactly the same to me about piolis inter. Think you guys had icardi and handa, maybe younger perisic, broz as gun players, the rest were old or rubbish. Prob not too disimilar to us this season, a few stars like Donna, Theo, possibly cal, the rest average and needing to be replaced. However if we had similar investment to you over the next 3 years, us Milan fans could really look forward to the derby again.
on the 21st February, 2021 at 11:12pm

Pretty in-depth analysis there lol.

The cracks are widening every week for your club and your certainty that they'll make the top 4

Not to worry, according to you, Haaland is on his way for 70m ;)
on the 21st February, 2021 at 11:00pm
Milan have done well to stay top for so long with an above-average squad, but they're struggling a bit now. This is the 4th league game in 2021 where they've been outplayed and beaten.

Romagnoli is a good defender in certain aspects, but pace is not one of them. We've seen him skinned many times this season when he's caught up field a bit.

Inter favourites to win it now, with Milan and Juve still in it.

But Milan will be more worried about missing out on the top 4 than Juve will.
on the 21st February, 2021 at 10:57pm
What a bad article! Inter won because of Handanovic and Milan played in EL bla bla bla! We played last year till the EL final an still were just 2 points short of the leaders! Milan is and was always overrated! Yes they had some good games and won many matches, but in most of their games they had so much luck. NOW the luck is over! Inter has 57 goals and you say they don't play beautifull... Oh just shu.. up!
on the 21st February, 2021 at 10:36pm
@viktor - what about Bennacer? Injury prone and would have been destroyed but another barella masterclass. Banter has been fun but I think it’s time to stop pretending Milan squad is anywhere near inter. As said before we have had more time and money to get where we are, tbh Milan remind me of pioli inter. Had a couple good players, but most of the team need to be replaced bar maybe 2-3. You also said top 4 is a certainty.. still feel so sure?
on the 21st February, 2021 at 9:55pm
Not a surprise for anyone I don’t think. Inter dominated the game from start to finish and should have been a couple clear at least by half time. Milan came out to attack second half and sitting too deep gave ibra a couple of chances - before slamming the door shut in style, really should have finished a couple more ahead. Milan facing uphill battle for top 4, roma juve, Napoli, Lazio and Atalanta all within striking distance now. Lukaku undisputed king of Milan, certainly top 3 striker in world
on the 21st February, 2021 at 9:50pm
Didnt the Icardashians have something to say when Inter lost the 1st derby, I wonder will they make any statement this time?
on the 21st February, 2021 at 8:41pm
There's nothing "beautiful" about losing football games & titles while making pretty passes. Ask Arsene Wenger.
on the 21st February, 2021 at 8:06pm
Milan has some serious thinking to do. They have so many hard Serie A fixtures left, especially away games. If they dont pull themselves up, they could end in EL again, because Lazio, Roma are all gunning for CL. Next match in Olimpico. Roma has best home form in Serie A.
on the 21st February, 2021 at 6:53pm
on the 21st February, 2021 at 6:09pm
This derby was reminder to all the deluded Milan fans who were cheering on Lazio last week instead of thanking Inter for taking points off a direct rival for CL spots against Lazio. Been saying this since the start of the season that there are only 2 serious teams in Italy ie : Inter & Juve. The unnecessary Milan-Scudetto talk means that the players would now feel that their season is derailed. I expect a very hard road for Milan' top 4 ambition with away games @ Roma,Lazio,Atalanta,Juve & Veron
on the 21st February, 2021 at 5:39pm
There are quite a few mistakes in this article. First of all 1 great game doesnt make up for a mediocre season for handanovic with lots of mistakes. When you are a starter in inter you need to be consistenly good not 1 game per month. Secondly milan played most of the bench in europa on tuesday so...Finally would you reporters ever stop with the notion that inter doesnt play good football. What do you define as such??Empty possesion??Inter are second in goals scored behind only bayern i think.
on the 21st February, 2021 at 5:08pm
I am inclined to agree that the season was heading this way anyway. I wasn't altogether surprised to see the result headline a few minutes ago.

Despite my own frustration, I also have to agree that Milan are very fortunate to even be in this position in the first place. Aiming for a top 4 finish was the objective at the start of the season. Certainly the last thing Milan needs is to change coach yet again, especially after finding one who in the current dynamic is getting good results.
on the 21st February, 2021 at 5:07pm
Well summarized, Susy, and frankly our input has been missed. Milan are are far ahead of their goals and do still only need qualification for CL. Pioli has done a brilliant job with what he's had on his hands and should be praised. Milan were never going to go unbeaten and sooner or later streaks come to an end and Milan start sliding. Pioli needs to pick this team up from a series of bad results and regroup. Our goal is still within reach.
on the 21st February, 2021 at 5:01pm
This has to be one of the worst written articles I have seen on this sight yet. Absolute nonsense if I'm being lenient. FI needs to get better writers.
on the 21st February, 2021 at 4:56pm
Lots of nonsense here to unpack so I'll leave that to someone else! Forza Inter, Forza Handanovic!
on the 21st February, 2021 at 4:46pm

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