The Derby Della Madonnina on Sunday will have a lot more at stake this year than any recent editions of the Milanese rivalry. This derby is a straight clash of the top two sides in the league and with Milan only six points behind Inter with a game in hand; it may turn out to be decisive in the title race. In the last meeting between the two sides the Rossoneri were humbled 4-0 and thus they will be desperate to exact some revenge. Over the next two days we take a look at the top concerns for the two sides.
A derby always brings with it its own set of emotions and this time the passions will be at all-time high. In Inter’s last home game, Jose Mourinho almost lost his unbeaten home league record to last placed Siena. Though Mourinho will never admit it, the record obviously means a lot to him and the last thing he would want to do is lose it to Milan. Also if Milan beat Inter on Sunday they will have the chance to be level on points at the top if they get past Fiorentina in their remaining game. So Inter will want to ensure they get at least a draw from this fixture.
4. Attacking Formation
Ever since Samuel Eto’o has been away at the African Cup of Nations Mourinho has been tinkering with his attack. The 4-2-3-1 formation which he currently adopts has yielded the goals but it requires the attackers to track back. Goran Pandev and Mario Balotelli are not the most active players on the field and the latter’s contribution to defence in the Bari game was described as “useless” by the Coach. To add to the problems, the attacking quartet failed to create too many opportunities against Bari and both their goals came about in fortunate circumstances.
3. Center Backs
The center-back pairing of Walter Samuel and Lucio has been largely impressive this term but a closer examination of the two will reveal their weakness. In the last two games Inter have shipped five goals and last Saturday the center backs were responsible for conceding the penalties. Samuel and Lucio are both large lumbering men and their lack of speed means that if an attacker gets by them he will almost always have a one-on-one opportunity against the keeper. The Brazilian captain in particular is prone to errors now and then especially whilst dealing with long balls. If David Beckham can keep peppering the penalty box with this trademark deliveries it will be a hard night for the two.
This is an area where the Nerazzurri have been crippled by injuries. Dejan Stankovic, Thiago Motta and Sulley Muntari are all carrying knocks into this game. Stankovic’s presence is particularly doubtful and that will come as blow for Inter considering his goal-scoring record against the Rossoneri. Motta has not played a full game in a long time, whilst Muntari suffered an injury in Wednesday’s training session. At the moment it looks like the ‘Special One’ might have to put Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso as the holding midfielders. Given the fact that Zanetti is not a natural defender only adds to Inter’s midfield woes. ‘Il Capitano’ might just find himself out of his depth against the likes of Ronaldinho, Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo.
1. Left Back
Many pundits will regard this as the area where the game will be won or lost. After seeing Ivan Cordoba’s performance at left-back against Bari, Leonardo must be pining for Inter to deploy the Colombian in that position again. It would be an understatement to say that Cordoba was massacred in that game. With Cristian Chivu indefinitely out and Davide Santon just making his return from injury, Mourinho has to bring in all his expertise to tackle this problem. If Beckham is allowed a free run on the flank, it is almost guaranteed that Milan will score a goal in that fashion. Javier Zanetti could be used but there is an inherent danger involved as the JZ has dropped his pace considerably.
So these are the problems confronting Inter at the moment. How Mourinho manages to overcome them will be interesting to see. One thing has to be said though that it will be foolish to discard Inter’s chances in the game as their displays have proven this season the Nerazzurri are extremely hard to put down.
500@Five – Derby Della Madonnina – Part One – January 22, 2010
500@Five – Derby Della Madonnina – Part Two – January 23, 2010