By Petar Todorovski
After a long time AC Milan wait for the city derby against Inter Milan topping the table, or at least being ahead of them. It’s not because of their form, which is not great. Inter is not as formidable as it was last two years while “the special” Jose Mourinho was their boss. Nevertheless, this is a great opportunity for Milan to gain something against the rival. Rossoneri are leaders, Nerrazzuri are champions. Passion, hatred between fans, tension and fighting for honor guaranteed. It couldn’t be better.
Inter currently has the worse run. They have won only one out of last five games. After they managed to beat Genoa three weeks ago, they played three awful games. They were totally outplayed in Champions League game against Tottenham before they were held to draw with mediocre teams like Lecce and Brescia. They currently sit the third place on table, with only three points behind Milan.
Rossoneri enjoy a little bit better form. After the unlucky draw against Real Madrid they beat Bari and Palermo. In the meantime, Lazio’s bad run meant that they are coming on top. Last game against Palermo was probably their best so far showing some improvements. However, it didn’t end well for them at all. Alexandre Pato and Filippo Inzaghi got injured and aren’t going to be able to help their team mates. Pato will be out for approximately six weeks, while the season for Pippo is already ended. Despite them, Daniele Bonera and Massimo Oddo are still out.
Inter will miss long term injured Walter Samuel. Sulley Muntari, MacDonald Mariga, Thiago Motta, David Suazo and Maicon will be also out.
Both coaches eye a victory. Rafael Benitez tried to put pressure on Rossoneri mentioning that he was the man who beat them in epic 2005 Champions league final in Istanbul. He stated clearly that they want to win the game with entertaining football in attempt to turn season around in another year of domination.
Unlike him, Rossonero Allegri denied the extreme proportions of significance of this match, because “it’s important because a win can help us strengthen from a mental aspect, but it is not decisive for the league.” He showed intention to play with three strikers in future, including Ronaldinho in the first team again, forced to cope with missing of Alexandre Pato: “Ronaldinho is capable of making the difference. We have important games ahead of us and so for the next few months I will try three strikers.”
Nevertheless,this is a derby game, and, as Allegri mentioned once, everybody is able to run and fight to win. These kinds of games have most often been decided in midfield. It’s crucial for AC Milan to secure balance in midfield. Benitez announced that he’s going to include Milito as only striker, with Eto’o, Pandev and Sneijder as wide attackers just behind him. That’s the formula that used Mourinho too often and led to great results. Eto’o is the best striker in Italy so far, but last year he showed great ability to play in midfield and even in defense. Goran Pandev hasn’t shot more than once in a game for a long time, as he plays more in midfield than the attack. Milan would have to fight greatly in order to balance in midfield.
The key player to perform is Clarence Seedorf. His magnificent play is one of the main driving forces for Milan’s success. He is unbelievably intelligent and creative player, so even when AC Milan is pressured he would be able to show some masterpiece securing valuable points for his team.
Another key point is Wesley Sneijder. The Dutch is the most creative player in Guseppe Meazza’s side and he must be stopped, with two marksmen if possible. Probably it would be better two of the midfield players to keep him, as if Mario Yepes come a little bit forward would leave too much space for Eto’o to attack from wide positions.
Whatever’s going to happen on Sunday, Allegri is right that this game is not crucial for title, as it’s still early season. However, for the players, the staff and fans of both teams, this is not a game for Scudetto points. The winning team will rule the City of Milan until the next derby. It’s for honor.