Milan hosted Inter in the 295th Derby Della Madonnina on Saturday, 22nd September 2019. Although both clubs share the stadium, one team is designated as the “home” team and it was Milan that were the hosts this time.
Inter and AC Milan have both fallen by the wayside for a number of years now. It has been 9 years since Inter won the Scudetto and 8 years since their last piece of silverware while it has been 8 years since Milan won the Scudetto and 7 years since their last piece of silverware. It is a far cry from the heyday when both teams boasted star names in their ranks. Milan however remains a rare footballing city that has 2 successful clubs. AC Milan has 50 trophies to their name while Inter has 39 trophies.
There was an array of legends from both teams, some have played for both clubs in the stands watching on the latest edition of the Milan Derby. As it always is in these games, both sets of fans rolled out the choreography as the teams entered the pitch. This choreography is normally done to mock the other team and inspire their own team.
On the pitch, both teams had new managers from the previous derby. AC Milan had hired legends Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban to their backroom staff and are looking to get away from the period of their dubious buy over by little known Chinese businessman Li Yonghong. They had a new manager in Marco Giampaolo in charge. Giampaolo impressed last season with Sampdoria and is known to play a modern, possession-based style of football. However, his players hadn’t assimilated to his style of play yet and the performances and results in the opening weeks have been less than convincing.
Inter, on the other hand, had strengthened in the back room with the appointment of Giuseppe Marotta as club CEO. Marotta had a successful spell at Juventus and is partly responsible for the success of Juventus in recent seasons. He then hired former Juventus captain, legend and manager, Antonio Conte as Inter manager after his spell at Chelsea. Inter were one of the biggest movers in the Italian transfer window over the summer, making some significant signings and had started the season strongly & sitting pretty on top of the table with a 100% win record. However, they suffered a blemish to their record albeit in a different competition as they were held to a last gasp 1-1 draw by Slavia Prague in their Champions League opener. In a group with Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona, the Czech side were tipped to be the easiest team but yet Inter struggled as they put in a lacklustre and off-key performance.
That draw broke news of an argument post-match between new signing, Romelu Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic. It hinted at possible unrest in the dressing room. The game started out cagey with neither side trying to give the other much in terms of opportunities and were careful not to make a mistake. As the match wore on, Inter created the better of the chances and Gianluigi Donnarumma was the busier of the two goalkeepers. AC Milan had sporadic raids on the Inter goal and threatened briefly.
Inter took the deserved lead early in the second half through Brozovic aided by a deflection and then added a second late in the game through an excellent header by Lukaku. They nearly added a third through substitute Matteo Politano but his shot crashed off the bar. It rounded up another dismal showing in the derby for Milan. Milan has not beaten Inter in the league since 2016 and the last time, they won the derby was in 2017 in a Coppa Italia quarter final.
Inter were dominant from start to finish. Samir Handanovic had hardly anything to do in goal as he was well-marshalled by the defence in front of him consisting of Diego Godin, Stefan De Vrij and Milan Skriniar. Everything about Inter looks positive at the moment as there is a unity in the team and there seems to be strength in depth as well on the bench. It is only in attack that they need to refine the partnership as Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku barely seemed to be on the same wavelength during the game. The game play can only get better as the new signings start gelling and the team adapts to Conte’s tactics.
In recent seasons, Inter has had a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde persona. They tend to do well in the first half of the season and their form will go into free fall in the second half of the season. Previous manager, Luciano Spalletti did better than his predecessors in arresting the slump before it got too bad as he managed to get Inter into the Champions League two seasons in a row. Conte’s real test will come when the calendar changes into the new year. Will Inter suffer that dip again? Can he prevent that from happening or at least stop a free fall in results? These are intriguing questions that will be answered as the season pans out.
AC Milan look like a sad, fallen version of their former self. Post-match, I read a tweet that said AC Milan is the Italian Manchester United only with less money and that comparison couldn’t be further from truth. The players seem to struggle to cope with what their coach wants them to do. The team lacks quality and quality players that they have look poor. It doesn’t seem too promising for Giampaolo because the pressure will mount now with each failed result and poor performance. Watching them play, I feel like it was a matter of time now before he gets sacked. At the moment, it doesn’t bode well for their future. I hope Milan can get back on their feet and get back to their previous levels again because Italian football needs both the Milan clubs to be great again.
For now, Milan is black and blue.
Written by Rasvinder Singh