Friday October 5 2012
The dysfunction derby?

Milan and Inter have had their problems this season, but, as Scott Fleming notes, both are getting their act together just in time for Sunday's derby.

Neither the jaunty soundtrack nor the smiles on the faces of those holding the Milan Channel microphone could disguise the sheer desperation of it all. With the Derby della Madonnina – supposedly one of world football's grandest fixtures – just four days away, the designated hosts were reduced to posting a video on their website on Wednesday, practically begging fans just to turn up.

“A derby without you guys just isn't the same,” pleaded Massimo Ambrosini.

“We need your help more than ever,” said a refreshingly frank Stephan El Shaarawy.

Between them Milan and Inter have managed just two wins from 10 home games this season.

Coaches Massimiliano Allegri and Andrea Stramaccioni have been placed under varying degrees of pressure, new signings have been compared unfavourably to those they have replaced, attendances have dipped, Sampdoria, Atalanta and Siena have left San Siro victorious.

Milan began their Champions League campaign with a dismal goalless draw against Anderlecht and – as if competing in the competition wasn't demeaning enough for them in the first place – Inter were perilously close to being knocked out the Europa League qualifiers by the hardly stellar duo of Hadjuk Spilt and Vaslui.

The video reinforced the sense that this derby will be quite unlike any we've seen for some time, surreal, subdued, strangely lacking in lustre, a meeting of two outfits in transition or indeed decline.

If you can look beyond those alarming ticket sale figures however, there is evidence that both the Rossoneri and the Nerazzurri are getting their acts together just in time for Sunday's big game.

For Inter, three is the magic number. Since switching to three at the back, they have won three on the trot in all competitions, and risen to third in Serie A. Milan are five points behind in 11th, but reinvigorated by Wednesday's 3-2 Champions League win away to Zenit St Petersburg.

For a team that have toiled against much more meagre opposition domestically, it was a remarkable performance and result, and significantly, it also showed that the hitherto uncompromising Allegri is willing to take risks both in terms of tactics and personnel, the blistering early salvo that saw Milan two up inside 16 minutes achieved with Bojan Krkic up front on his own in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

This is Allegri's sixth derby in charge of the Diavolo, yet Stramaccioni will be the first Inter boss he has faced more than once. Their previous meeting, Inter's enthralling 4-2 victory in May, is what got the younger man the job – whilst simultaneously killing off Milan's Scudetto aspirations.

This will also be the first derby since the infamous Antonio Cassano-Giampaolo Pazzini swap deal took place, and it’s tempting to characterise the clash as a battle between the former Sampdoria strike partners. However, if the game can be said to be a battle between two players, those two would be Cassano and El Shaarawy, very much the men of the moment.

Since crossing the divide Cassano has stressed both his respect for the Milan fans, and contempt for Vice-President Adriano Galliani. 'Peter Pan' has dumbfounded those that thought he'd never be the same player again after his health scare, hitting four goals in his first four Serie A starts for the Serpenti. His first derby appearance as a Milan player saw him score a penalty and receive a red card all in the space of a 10 minute cameo – so don't be surprised if his contribution on Sunday is similarly action packed.

El Shaarawy, meanwhile, has gone from rough diamond to reference point in double quick time, the 19-year-old outdoing Zlatan Ibrahimovic's strike rate with five goals in his last four, including a marvellous individual effort against Zenit.

Cassano, El Shaarawy, Allegri, Stramaccioni, the three-man defence – the ingredients may be different to Milan derbies past, but the end result should be no less appetising.

Have your say...

Yupp you had one attempt on goal for 90 minutes
So yeah. Easy win
on the 8th October, 2012 at 1:48pm
very easy win for inter
on the 8th October, 2012 at 9:18am
To all people who watch Italian Football. Watch the replay of ACM vs INTER. Clearly, the league is so corrupted its not even funny. Milan had ONCE again a goal not allowed by Monty, one pen that was crystal disallowed. How much more can you/we take.
on the 7th October, 2012 at 9:01pm
@ i hate milan

milab to third division? Oh dont you worry, we hate you. FoRza Milan
on the 7th October, 2012 at 3:07pm
Did someone say they wanted to see Bonera in defense? Are you on crack? I'm hoping you're an Inter fan!!!!
on the 7th October, 2012 at 2:25pm
A win tonight keeps Inter on Juve's tail and puts a massive dent in Milan's Scudetto hopes.

Cassano to net the winner and bring joy to the heart of Interisti everywhere.

Good luck Inter!

Forza Nerazzurri!
on the 7th October, 2012 at 12:05pm
Its a nice feeling knowing Abate is good at giving assists to Milito
on the 7th October, 2012 at 10:04am
Inter Forever ...
Milan to 3rd Division
on the 7th October, 2012 at 8:02am
i hope de jong breaks cassano's legs, what a traitor.
on the 6th October, 2012 at 8:55am
Good luck to both teams.

I bet Cassano scores but then so will Pazzo and SES to score the winner.

Forza Milan !
on the 6th October, 2012 at 8:29am
go milan..!!
on the 5th October, 2012 at 4:09pm
Milan will win this one,if Allegri selects the team which defeated Zenit.Stop mourning about those departed veterans.
on the 5th October, 2012 at 3:50pm
You did a great job yourself, Mr. Fleming in tempting more viewers to watch the derby with your stupendous article! But believe me, the milan derby never was a dull moment. I even graded it will be way better than el clasico also be played this weekend. Whatever scores; its FORZA INTER!!!
on the 5th October, 2012 at 3:31pm
Why on earth havent allegri tried urby at LB ? Seriously i think he can do well there and produce better crosses rather than adding less quality to a drained midfield...and why dont we have a regular cb pairing ? And whatever happened to d 'quality' Acerbi ?...i'd like a stating back of ; abbiati,abate,mexes,bonera(wld have liked zapata but he prefers b boy),urby(de sciglio),
on the 5th October, 2012 at 1:55pm
I would like stramaccioni to play an attacking football with old guys of milan with milito,cassano and couthino at attack what a diamond trident and solid combative midfielders of guarin,cambiasso,pierera and obi with samuel,juan,rannochia or chivu.
on the 5th October, 2012 at 1:14pm
I want to see Allegri start with the same starting 11 against Inter as he did against Zenit. I don't care if they're tired it's a derby for good sake!
on the 5th October, 2012 at 11:29am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.