The 222nd Milan derby popularly known as “Derby della Madonnina” remains a cult and frenetic clash not only on the peninsula but, also on the continent.
Why? The illustrious history and achievements of these two Milan sides have been etched into the folklore of European and World football. A position or status even their recent struggles domestically and internationally can’t erase.
Hence, when both ‘falling giants’ under new managements-US and China- file out today at the prestigious Guiseppe Meaza stadium-a turf both teams share-it would be Inter that would play host to its city rival, Milan.
Gennaro Gattuso’s men come into the clash on the back of an upturn in results. After successive draws that was punctured by wins at Empoli, Sassuolo and Chievo at home, the Rossonerri would be looking to pick up from where they left off when they confront the Blue-Black side of the city.
READ ALSO Barca rejects Neymar return
The Diabolo are just four point below the host, and closing up the gap and staying on course for a Champions League place is an objective for the Elliot-controlled club.
For the Nerrazzurri, the narrative is quite different.
They have been set up to challenge Juve-though not feasible looking at how the Old Lady is playing-as they have been touted to be the “Anti-Juve” however, inconsistencies on the pitch which were visible in their first three to four games; notably against Parma, Sassuolo, and Torino have doused the hysteria.
Luciano Spalletti is more focused on getting results and seeing Inter improve on their game. The former Roma tactician has seen Inter muzzle out victories from Spurs, PSV in the Champions League, and from Cagliari, SPAL and Bologna in the Serie A.
Undoubtedly, Inter looks to be more confident going into today’s derby however, it remains vulnerable simply because is a “derby”.
Derbies are quite different, unpredictable and more intense. These features could work for or against both sides.
Both giants would be hoping to bag the bragging rights.
Milan will hope Gonzalo Higuian shows up at the party to thwart Inter’s Icardi. It promises to be exciting and intense as the San Siro as already sold out 78,000 tickets for the cracker.
It would be a clash of two teams with different styles. The Nerrazzuri are more physical while the Diavolo are more technical.
Tonight’s clash would see Suso, Bonaventura, Kessie and Biglia take on Inter’s midfield quartet of Nainggolan, Vecino, Brozovic and Gagliardini.
While the attack is definitely a showpiece between Higuian and Icardi however, fans should watch out for both clubs’ young guns in Cutrone and Martinez.
Surely, San Siro would be awake as Italy’s and Europe’s “fallen giant” go to battle.