Event: Italian Serie A
Date: Saturday, 15th April 2017
Kick Off: 11:30am (Nigerian time)
Venue: Guiseppe Meazza (San Siro), Milan, Italy
This tantalizing clash is coming at a time a takeover of the red side of Milan has just taken place. What a boost! Coach Vincenzo Montella has urged his AC Milan players to concentrate on the football during the derby as the celebrations following the club’s takeover threaten to overshadow Serie A duties.
On Thursday former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi completed the protracted sale of Milan, a club he had owned since 1986, to a new parent company led by Chinese businessman Li Yonghong.
It was a timely piece of good news for the Rossoneri, given they needed a confidence boost heading into the second Derby della Madonnina of the season, where Inter Milan are the nominated hosts at San Siro.
The Champions League looks to be out of Milan’s reach as they are 10 points behind third-placed Napoli with seven games remaining, and Atalanta are keen to lock them out of the Europa League.
On the other hand, Inter, now also governed by a Chinese consortium, are another two points behind their city rivals and so Montella is wary of the Nerazzurri using Milan’s distracted state to make advances in the table.
His Inter counterpart Stefano Pioli is reportedly at risk of losing his job in the summer, despite stabilising the Nerazzurri in the top half after a poor start to the campaign under Frank de Boer.
Back-to-back defeats to Sampdoria and then lowly Crotone have not strengthened Pioli’s case and the board is rumoured to be considering a summer approach for Edgardo Bauza, who was sacked by Argentina this week.
Pioli is concentrating solely on recovering from the double whammy and leapfrogging Milan.
Inter have a fully-fit squad while Milan are missing Andrea Bertolacci, Riccardo Montolivo, Ignazio Abate and Giacomo Bonaventura due to injuries. With Mario Pasalic suspended, Matias Fernandez is expected to start in the playmaker role, whereas Gabriel Paletta should be recalled.
KEY STATISTICS TO BEAR IN MIND AS THE COUNTDOWN TICKS AWAY
-AC Milan won the last four matches of this particular fixture at San Siro
-Inter won just one of last six competitive meetings with the Rossoneri (D3 L2)
-Both teams scored in Inter Milan’s last six matches
-AC Milan won six of last nine games (D2 L1)
-The Nerazzurri conceded 2 goals in each of their last three fixtures
Vicenzo Montella: “It will be a difficult game, challenging to prepare for and to play in.
“We have to concentrate on ourselves as it will be very competitive and they’ll be chasing the win.
“Millions of fans will be watching and if I could have chosen a game to follow this historic transition then I would have chosen this one.
“The team have trained very well and I’m sure they’ll do well on Saturday, taking to the pitch with a serious mindset despite all these major changes. It will be a great spectacle.”
Stefano Pioli: “The derby is in a league of its own, it’s the most important game of the entire season.
“It’s very important to us as there’s a chance to climb the table after suffering two straight losses.
“We want to make our fans happy.”
FORM GUIDE (all competitions, most recent first)
AC Milan: WDWLWW
Inter Milan: LLDWWL
VERDICT: Inter Milan are going through a rough patch at the moment; just when it seemed like the storm was over a couple of weeks ago courtesy of impressive back to back home and away wins over Atalanta and Cagliari respectively, the poor run starts all over again. Also, the poor Derby della Madonnina record puts extra pressure on the Nerazzurri. AC Milan, on the other hand, are flying high at the moment and are giving us the impression that they are returning to the old AC Milan we have always known. No doubt, they have done well so far this season and I believe that next season would be much better so much that they will give perennial champions Juventus a good run for their money vis-a-vis the Scudetto as the foundation is already being laid. I’m absolutely backing them not to lose this one.
RECOMMENDED BET: X2