The waiting is almost over for the first Milan derby of the season, as Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan host Jose Mourinho’s new-look Inter side on Sunday night. It’s a game that can and does affect both club’s season; a good win can fill the fans and players with confidence to last for matches to come, whereas a heavy defeat leave tension and unrest festering amongst the same players. But just as importantly for the Tifosi; bragging rights are up for grabs and with a rivalry like the two Milan clubs, this should not be underestimated.
Both teams come into the game on the back of wins in the mid-week games, as Milan broke down a battling Reggina side on a damp night in Reggio-Calabria to win 2-1, whilst Inter played well in a 1-0 victory over Lecce.
The Rossoneri have come into some form recently, coinciding tellingly with the return of Alexandre Pato and Marco Borriello to fitness, both contributing with two goals to their name already. This change in the make-up of the team has also seen Ronaldinho relegated to the bench where he partners another high-profile summer signing Andriy Shevchenko. However, the thigh injury Borriello sustained against Reggina rules him out of the derby, and another three to four games to boot, paving the way for tactical and personal re-shuffles, with many options open to Ancelotti.
Pato looks set to start, but it depends on the system as to who comes in to join him. Carletto said in midweek that he wouldn’t expect to play Ronaldinho or Shevchenko in this fixture, so it would seemed that Kaka would partner Pato, with Seedorf behind the front two and Flamini taking Seedorf’s normal position in the centre of the park. This is still an option, but the latest rumours revolve around an all Brazilian attack: Pato as a lone-striker, supported by Kaka, and surprise inclusion Ronaldinho. This would see Milan return to a 4-3-2-1 formation, with Flamini dropping out of midfield to make way for Seedorf.
Latest possible line-up:
Nesta, Inzaghi, Viudez, Pirlo, Senderos, Borriello
Inter have so many strikers that they can’t give them all games. This weekend, Mourinho will choose whether to stick with Julio Cruz as part of a two man strike force, or play two men wide of a central striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The possibilities are endless; one option is to keep Cruz up front, with Quaresma, Crespo, Balotelli and Adriano on the bench if needed. But most recently, it is thought that Mourinho will return to the formation of the first couple of games of the season, with Mancini and Quaresma both acting as wide support strikers for Zlatan. This is a frightnening thought for the already slow Milan back line, who could find themselves face-to-face with the pace and power of these players as opposed to a more straight forward approach to deal with Cruz.
Latest possible line-up:
12 Julio Cesar
Samuel, Jimenez, Maxwell, Figo, Muntari