Derby Della Madonnina - AC Milan v Inter Preview

Posted by Mike Whittaker

The world renowned Derby Della Madonnina is regarded as one of, if not the greatest cross city derbies in the world. With an impressive 86 top level trophies between Inter and AC Milan it's clear to see why Milano is considered the world capital of football. Admittedly both clubs are currently far from the magnificent European powerhouses of football that they have been in the past, but the appeal of this legendary match is still as strong as ever for fans.

Rumours this week suggest that AC Milan are struggling to sell tickets for the 179th Serie A meeting of the two Milanese giants; a game which sees Inter as the away team in the Giuseppe Meazza, the stadium both clubs call home. Reportedly, this is due to the unrest being shown by Milanisti after recent performances and the loss of so many star players. Regardless of how many are in the stadium on Sunday, the game will be watched by millions of people around the world.

Going into the game, Inter sit in a respectable 3rd place just four points behind league leaders Juventus and Napoli but AC Milan, after a miserable start to their season, sit mid-table in 13th place a huge 9 points behind the top two.

So who is favourite to win the clash? Well it is unlikely to be a draw as the last time we saw one of those was back on the 24th October 2004 with a rare 0-0 result. In terms of wins Inter have the slight edge with 66 wins compared to Milan's 60. One thing is almost certain though - there will be goals! In the previous 178 meetings there has been an incredible 501 times the ball has hit the back of the net, 260 for Inter and 241 for Milan.

These stats suggest that Inter are favourites to once again take the bragging rights across the city and even this season's form points towards a Nerazzurri win but as Massimo Moratti said this week when asked who are favourites "You never know in the derby". All previous form stands for nothing in these games, they should always be considered as one off matches a bit like a cup final because for both Inter and Milan that is just how they are played.

The main talking point for the game will surely be the first meeting of the two teams since Giampaolo Pazzini and Antonio Cassano swapped sides of the city and I can see them both going all out to show their previous employers what they're missing. Of course Inter again have the edge here as Cassano has been in outstanding form playing for his beloved Nerazzurri, scoring 4 goals in his first 6 games and providing assists for his teammates with his intelligent movement. Pazzini on the other hand, despite scoring a hat-trick against Bologna has been just as disappointing in red and black as he had been in the blue and black but as all Interisti know he shouldn't be underestimated and could punish Inter when they least expect it.

As interesting as seeing what these two might do for their new teams in the first derby on the other side of the fence, I believe it will be two talented youngsters that will steal the show, one on each side. For Milan with the loss of Ibrahimovic and Cassano in the summer it has given 19 year old Stephan El Shaarawy a chance to shine at the club and so far this season he has taken Serie A by storm, regardless of Milan's miserable start. Inter's defence will have to be wary of the Rossoneri Pharaoh with his lightning pace and technical trickery that has seen him claim an impressive five goals in eight appearances.

Inter too have a young potential superstar in their ranks, Phillipe Coutinho has been outstanding for the Nerazzurri since his return in the summer from loan at Espanyol last season, he has pace, trickery, great vision and a healthy dose of Brazilian flair that is quickly making him a fan favourite. The 20 year old has three goals in 10 appearances but he offers much more than just goals, he brings a whole new dimension to Inter's play that is exciting to watch and also gives his teammates an increased confidence in attack.

Unsurprisingly, I'm confident that Inter will have a little bit extra on Sunday which will see them victorious against one of their biggest rivals. If they manage to come away with the full three points, Inter won't just have the bragging rights over their neighbours but they will also find themselves eight points ahead of the Rossoneri which would be devastating for the home side to be so far behind the pace after just seven league games.

ESPN Conversations