The Milan derby is of course the one game that all of Milan knows about. Those who may not follow either the red or blue half on a regular basis will have the natural urge to pledge their public support to their side, like they have done twice a season, for nearly every year of their life. In the city of course it is impossible to miss. The local free newspapers that line the streets into the centre give the very latest news, and office banter reaches its height. Tickets have been as hard to come by as ever. Queues have stretched far down the street from all the Banca Popolare di Milano branches, the main distributor of tickets for Inter matches, and many, indeed most ticket seekers have been left disappointed.
The match itself is of as great importance as ever – a win for Inter puts an end to any title challenge the Rossoneri have, whereas if Carlo Ancelotti’s men manage a repeat of their victory earlier in the season, many people including myself maybe rushing, somewhat over confidently, to the nearest betting shop to put money on Inter throwing it away like they nearly did last year. The difference this year would be that Milan are stronger than then, and if it wasn’t for the draw with Reggina last week, would be high in confidence. A win this weekend could well destabilise an Inter side that have had one or two shaky moments of late, and give Milan that extra boost that they will need. In short, this game is huge just as a spectacle, but add to that the importance as regards the Scudetto race, and it becomes surely the biggest game of the season. And remember, you can watch this in the UK on BBC3, Sunday night.
With a game like the derby on a Sunday evening, all the other games take a back seat, at least to some degree, in the eyes of the general public. But there are other top ties that would normally be the prime-time show. I am mostly talking about 4th versus 5th, Genoa playing host to Fiorentina, in a game that really should go a long way towards determining who will get the hugely important 4th spot. Genoa, inspired by Diego Milito who has 14 goals, really should believe that they can beat their purple opponents both in this tie, but also to that Champions League place. Fiorentina has been far from consistent this season, but a win on Sunday creates a four point gap that could be asking just a little too much for the overachieving, albeit impressive Genoa.
For Sampdoria it is already a season to forget, another one that promised much more than it has delivered thus far. An away tie to Juventus is unlikely to be the game that kick-starts their unlikely but still possible UEFA Cup challenge. Elsewhere Delio Rossi’s Lazio need to take advantage of playing Torino at home, so as to end their run of five straight defeats. Anything less than three points really could signal the end for the Coach that took the Biancocelesti comfortably into the Champions League places earlier in the year. It promises to be a weekend that will answer many questions.
Inter vs. Milan – No love lost in must-win derby for the Rossoneri
Inter vs. Milan – Tactical breakdown
Genoa vs. Fiorentina – Fight for fourth place intensifies