This is the 271st Derby Della Madonnina but the ferocity is as evident as ever and the microscopic scrutiny of Inter and Milan remains.
Nothing concrete can be drawn from a single outing but the Rossoneri will be more confident having snatched all three points from the opening weekend. A Ronaldinho inspired 2-1 victory in a tricky tie away to Siena will have given Coach Leonardo buoyancy ahead of the biggest ties of the season which comes just two games into his Serie A tenure in the San Siro hot-seat.
Conversely, the daggers are already drawn for Jose Mourinho’s Inter as the Nerazzurri, now without Zlatan Ibrahimovic needed grace and favour to bag a 1-1 draw at home to newly promoted Bari. Not an entirely poor performance but the failure for the new players to lift the malaise that sometimes gripped Inter against supposedly lesser opposition last season will leave lingering concerns ahead of a real battle on Saturday evening.
After a good performance in Tuscany last week, Leonardo would be remiss not to start the same 11 that helped win his inaugural game in charge. A confident debut from Thiago Silva means the young Brazilian is set to retain his place alongside Alessandro Nesta at the heart of the Rossoneri defence. After his two goals in the season opener Alexandre Pato looks set to continue his partnership with the temperamental Marco Borriello, with Ronaldinho looking to pull the strings from the trequartista position. That is, if Leonardo opts to ignore the overtures of Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian PM, who visited the Milanese pre-season to try and rouse Ronaldinho, voiced his displeasure at the chosen attacking trident and suggested the recall of current bench-warmer Clarence Seedorf to sit behind the Brazilian partnership of Pato and Ronaldinho.
15 Zambrotta – 13 Nesta – 33 Thiago Silva – 18 Jankulovski
8 Gattuso – 21 Pirlo – 16 Flamini
7 Pato – 22 Borriello
A number of changes look likely from the way in which Jose Mourinho frantically tampered with the personnel and the formation as he looked to snatch a win from Bari at the weekend. The Portuguese Coach claimed that Sulley Muntari was not a hundred per cent due to his commitments to Ramadan and the Ghanaian looks likely to drop to the bench in exchange for Mario Balotelli.
In other changes, the veteran Javier Zanetti will have his ageing limbs rested having been turned inside out by Bari’s Edgar Alvarez last Sunday. Romanian Cristian Chivu is at the forefront to deputise in the left-back berth, with Italian prodigy Davide Santon unlikely to start for the second game in a row despite a strong finish to last season.
12 Julio Cesar
13 Maicon – 23 Materazzi – 25 Samuel – 26 Chivu
5 Stankovic – 14 Vieira – 8 Thiago Motta – 45 Balotelli
9 Eto’o – 22 Milito
The game is liable to be something of a midfield stalemate, with Thiago Motta and Patrick Vieira poised to close down Ronaldinho with ferocity from the first whistle. It will be interesting to see which of Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito or Pato can make the most of the opposition’s newly formed centre back pairings and the game could come down to a solitary goal as it did when they met in September last season, which saw a Ronaldinho header hand Mourinho his first defeat at the helm of Inter.