Archive for December 22nd, 2007

Inter Milan vs. AC Milan Preview – The Managers’ Perspective

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Inter Milan vs. AC Milan 2007-08 - The ‘Derby della Madonnina’ is Upon Us


As adequately put by La Gazzetta dello Sport, “if the 2007-08 season were a steeplechase, Inter would be damn well near a perfect run at this point“. The Nerazzurri’s ride to full-points had a few bumps down the road (the SuperCoppa Italiana defeat to Roma, and the Champions League away loss to Fenerbahce). But other than that, the Internazionale train has been running full steam ahead and is looking for one more victory to cap the year off. What perfect opportunity than the Derby della Madonnina (which effectively, given the holiday season, is more like a Derby di Natale a.k.a Xmas derby) against rival cousins AC Milan. On the one hand we have AC Milan, recently-crowned World Champions in Tokyo, and on the other the Campioni d’Italia and 1st-ranked team in Serie A. So for Inter coach Roberto Mancini, those that have the most at stake on Sunday will be Inter.

Inter coach Roberto Mancini with his assistant manager, Sinisa Mihaijlovic

It’s a derby” said Mancio to Gazzetta. “As such, it will be a very particular match. (…) A derby in of itself is already an important game, but that fact this one takes place on December 23rd makes it even more special. (..) It’s a game between two greats of the Serie A, there will be plenty of room for show on the field. Both Inter and Milan have the right players to make a difference”.

The Inter coach talked about his way to approach the match. “Tension? It’s there, but I’m keeping it hidden in the name of fairplay. I have much respect for Carlo [Ancelotti], but it’s normal that there be a rivalry between the two teams. Personally though, I don’t feel the rivarly with AC Milan. The only rivalry I’ve ever felt heartily about was that with Genoa, when I was still playing [with Sampdoria]. So in that sense there’s not much that can bother me.”

According to Mancini, the key players of the match will be the award-winning stars of the season so far: the best Swedish player of the year and the multi-award Ballon d’Or, FIFPro etc. etc. winning Brazilian star, respectively Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kaká. “They’re definitely the ones to keep an eye on tomorrow“.


To take this match like a cup final“. That is the mental approach to the Inter-Milan derby for Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti, who instead of heavy technical or tactical preparations, could perhaps use a session in psychological readiness. Indeed, in the last 6 months of the year AC Milan became successively European Champions then World Champions, yet their 22-point difference from their rival cousins Inter could give the Rossoneri some sort of “inferiority complex”. Their coach Carletto Ancelotti talks about it.

AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti

To beat Inter, we will need to play a perfect game. It’s not a final, but a very important match for Milan’s season: we have a duty to get closer to the top-ranking positions. (…) Our victory in the FIFA Club World Cup was important, and allowed us to prepare this match with a serene mind. we just had enough time to recover physically, so the derby comes at the right time for us. When they published the Serie A calendars we weren’t very happy with it, but the fact that we won the World Cup is a good momentum-builder for the derby“.

In other words, the Rossoneri coach is far from panicking, or from beind scared by the Black & Blue armada. “Inter have a few problems in midfield, yet they manage to overcome those with a formidable defense and offense. Do they have any weak spots? Maybe they do, but they’re pretty good at hiding them“. For Ancelotti, Inter’s approach to the game from a rankings point-of-view will be very different that the Rossoneri’s “They need the 3 points of this match to maintain their lead over the other teams, while we need them to reduce the distance between us and the 4th [Champions League-qualifying] spot“.

Regarding the starting line-up, the Italian coach still has a few details to iron out. “I have still some doubts regarding the wings, namely whether I should pick Oddo or Bonera on the right and Jankulovski or Maldini on the left. I also have to decide who to pick between Brocchi and Gattuso, who hasn’t practiced all week [due to an injury problem]” (…) Inter have had great consistency so far, and have been a formidable striking force. Personally I think that in the direct match-up there isn’t such a big points difference between us, so I hope it will be the same on the field, that it will be a balanced battle“.

It’s no surprise the Milan coach also considers Ibrahimovic and Kaká the key players for the match, the Swedish striker in particular as one of the number 1 threats to neutralize. “Nesta and Kaladze give great reliability to our central defense, but we must give our defensive line a little more help, by reducing their distance from our midfielders. We can’t give Ibrahimovic one-on-one situations. Both he and Kaká are in large part the determining factors for either team“.

Finally, Ancelotti commented on the tactical set-ups (Milan’s should, with very little surprise, be once again the 4-3-2-1 Xmas tree formation… how appropriate for this month). “They could play with 3 strikers up front, you say? If you have 3 strikers and play an offensive match, that’s an advantage. If you’re forced to defend yourself, it’s a disadvantage. It will all depend on what kind of game AC Milan will play, but in any case we always play with 3 strikers (note: one lone striker and Kaká-Seedorf to support)”.

Kick-off at 15:00CET (9:00 ET) Sunday. Tune in your TVs/Streaming Channels! :mrgreen:

Inter Milan vs. AC Milan Preview – The ‘Derby della Madonnina’ is Upon Us

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Inter Milan vs. AC Milan 2007-08 - The ‘Derby della Madonnina’ is Upon Us

Note: This is a guest writer article, written by Subhankar Mondal. It was originally published on the Soccerlens blog.

El Clásico? Cosa diavolo è sto ‘El Clásico’? Or in other words, “What on Earth is this ‘El Clásico’ you speak of?” That’s the question being posed in Italy this weekend and there’s a valid reason for that. For on Sunday, a seismic force that owes its origin to the history shall rock the city of Milan and tradition shoved deep down in the ground; for on Sunday a chasm shall be constructed distinctly in Milan and volcanic eruptions are guaranteed.

If you think that this is a meteorological forecast ridiculously being rippled across on a football blog site, then you are utterly, utterly wrong. Instead, this is a lookahead to the Derby della Madonnina, the Inter Milan vs. AC Milan derby, that is set to storm to the center-stage in the Italian Serie A on Sunday.

This is a derby that is almost a hundred years old, a derby that would’ve never opened its eyes upon the light of the world if there had been no wrangling over the signing of foreign players; a derby that over the rapidly flowing years has come to be relegated to second (maybe even third) place in Italian football (the Derby d’Italia i.e. Juventus vs. Inter, is now firmly established as the most important match in Italian football calendar). But when Internazionale (or more affectionately, Inter Milan) and AC Milan lock horns at San Siro on Sunday there will no dearth of passion, spark, fire and rivalry at all.

Massimo MorattiThe history of the two clubs is paradoxically intertwined into one. Milan were established way back in 1899 and were absorbed in nationalistic ideals so much so that they wouldn’t allow any foreign player to don on their colors. This kindled a rift inside the club and those in favor of the induction of foreign players into the side broke away and formed Internzionale in 1908 and the city of Milan has been torn apart into two fragments since.

Silvio BerlusconiMilan traditionally are the people’s club, a club that has supported by the working class people in southern Italy. On the other hand, Inter are the bourgeois club, an aristocracy that has been blessed by the rich hands. But over the successive decades, such a distinction in terms of economic class has broken down. Indeed, Italian President Massimo Moratti is a oil tycoon while Milan is owned by the billionaire and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Yet a cluster of Milan supporters still come from the working class background while Inter fans still do perceive their Milan counterparts as basically inferior to them in almost all sectors. The ultras (or, “ultrà” as they are called in Italy) are there from both clubs but their actions and recognition are much allayed by the reputation of the clubs. Even so, violence and trouble at the Milan derby have been frequent.

The ugliest incident of violence cropped up in the 2nd leg of the 2004-2005 UEFA Champions League Semi-Final match at San Siro. Milan were leading the match 1-0 (and 3-0 aggregate) when Inter supporters decided to get themselves thick into the action. Bottles and coins started being rocketed onto the pitch, flares started flying onto the field and Milan custodian Dida was hit with a flare on the back of his shoulder and the often crippled and almost always paralyzed UEFA at last convened to investigate into the violence in Italy.

Dida's incident in the 2004-05 Champions League match vs. InterThus security has been tightened at the San Siro for the clash and thee are one or two signs that trouble might be hatched during the course of 9 minutes. And the main perpetrators could be Inter Milan players in not so much as instigating the crowds to go wild as in pissing on even more frustration on the Milan unit. This is technically a home match for Inter and the bulk of the 83,000 crowd will be Nerazzurri fanatics and should the Inter players gallop on with their ruthlessly breathtaking form, then Milan will be in deep, deep trouble.

Inter are the current Serie A leaders with 40 points from 16 matches and are 7 clear of their nearest challengers, who are not AC Milan. Inter Milan have won the last 5 matches in the league and have won 7 of the 8 Serie A matches they have played so far at San Siro. The Nerazzurri have also kissed the ball 35 times into the back of the opposition net and with strikers Zlatan Ibrahimović and Julio Ricardo Cruz scoring 9 times each.

Ibrahimovic and Cruz, a lethal striker pair for Inter MilanMilan have 3 games in hand but that can’t let them escape with any excuse for gathering only 18 points all season. The Rossoneri have won just 4 of their 16 matches and have lost 3, scoring just 20 and conceding 10 goals. But even more disturbingly, Milan have yet to register a win at San Siro this season.

All these data, facts, figures and statistics lead you by the hand to last season’s circumstances. Inter Milan won the scudetto last season in so dominating a style that most bookmakers have placed money on Inter to win the Italian championship this season too. Inter’s record breaking 17 consecutive wins in the Italian top flight was highly hailed by all football pundits although question mark hover dangerously over their playing style.

Zlatan, Cruz, and FigoInter might have been the best team in the Serie A last season but they weren’t the most entertaining side—AS Roma and AC Milan were. This time around too, Roberto Mancini has sacrificed style at the altar of substance and neutrals do complain the lack of aestheticism in this immensely efficient Inter side. In fact, only Ibrahimović and Luis Figo are the only entertainers in this Nerazzurri squad and with Figo’s absence through injury, the Swedish mercurial striker has been the lone flagship of good football.

But at least Inter are winning and at times winning by drilling in 4 goals (4-1 against Roma and Genoa and 4-0 over Torino) and if Milan can do half as much, manager Carlo Ancelotti would be more than just glad. Just like last season, the Rossoneri have had their title hopes evaporated into thin air like volatile hydrochloric acid right from the world go. Just like last season, Milan have struggled for goals.

Just like last season, Milan’s best player has been the world’s best player Kaká who is also their top scorer in Serie A with 7 goals. Just like last season, Milan have failed to strengthen their aging squad in the defense and the frontine. Just like last season, Milan in 11th are struggling for a Champions League berth.

And everyone would be hoping for a 7-goal thriller in the first Milan derby of 2007-2008, just like last season. Inter won both Derbys della Madonnina last season but their 4-3 victory in the first act was a sensation, the best match in Europe along with that Lionel Messi-inspired 3-3 El Clásico drama in March. Milan and especially Kaká played with flair and intensity but Inter’s superior bench strength, young legs and swift counter-attacking moves aided by some comic Milan defense won the Nerazzurri full 3 points and if you follow the formbook, then you would certainly be putting your money on an efficient Inter side which Juventus manager Claudio Ranieri described recetly as a machine.

But as the severely tortured cliché has it, when there’s a derby at stake, the formbook flies out of the window, leaving not so much as its dirty underwear behind.

Here’s some additional Inter Milan vs. AC Milan statistics, courtesy of

Head to Head Record, 1992-2007:

Inter Milan vs. AC Milan - Head to Head Record, 1992-2007

2007-08 Serie A Match Record so far:

Inter Milan vs. AC Milan - 2007-08 Serie A Match Record so far