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Derby Deciders

In early September, Jovan compared Milan and Inter to determine who had the upper hand when it came to the Scudetto race. With the first derby around the corner, much has changed, particularly Inter’s coach and tactics. So I am asking you, the readers to discuss and rate the same categories to see if we can predict who will prevail on Sunday.

"You talkin' smack, old man?"


Before you simply vote with your Rossoneri heart, let’s look at where the teams are now. Also keep in mind that Jovan’s predictions were for the entire season, and we are looking specifically at this one game.

Tactics: Under Gasperini’s 3-5-2 delightful aberration, Inter’s record was 4 losses in 5 games in all competitions, with a draw to Roma. After his swift and most unfortunate sacking, Ranieri has since tinkered with the lineup and most recently employed a rational and effective 4-4-2 diamond formation. Since his appointment, Inter have made a very strong comeback, climbing quickly from 17th in the table to 5th in the table with a record of 9 wins, 1 draw, and 4 losses in the league and only one loss to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. Meanwhile, Allegri’s Scudetto winning and steady 4-3-1-2 saw us struggle early in the season but find our footing and climb steadily to the top of the table, ahead of Juventus on goal differential only.

Something else to consider, though. While Allegri won the Scudetto in his very first season with a big club, Ranieri has never won the Scudetto, having coached Napoli, Fiorentina, Parma, Juventus, Roma, and now Inter in Serie A, earning him the derogatory nickname of “Zero Titoli,” or zero titles. He is respected, but has never won the league. But in a head to head single match, you must remember that he is not called the “Tinkerman” for nothing. Ranieri wins matches, not seasons, and I’m quite sure he would love nothing more than to take Milan down in this match, even if he is unlikely to sustain the success long term. Whereas Allegri is far more conservative in his lineups and substitutions, and is focused on winning the season, even if he is also good at facing each match one at a time. I believe Milan’s tactics are better suited for the win, but Ranieri is more likely to adapt before and also midgame to achieve the result. My vote: Tie

Allegri: "I know just where I'll put my 2nd Scudetto. Oh, you don't have one, old man?"

Defense: Last year, Milan had the best defense in Serie A. But this year, it started out as our weak point. With Nesta and Silva both healthy, Mexes as a tantalizing option for Nesta, Abate coming back after his ankle injury, our only question is the usual Left Back Roulette, and still our options there are better than the average team.

Inter’s backline, after switching from the foolish 3 man line to a proper 4 man line, features Nagatomo in great form as well as the options of the evergreen Zanetti, the constants of Lucio, Maicon, and Samuel, and the youthful talents of Faraoni and Ranocchia. For me, the dealbreaker is in goal, with Julio Cesar still great but fallen from grace, and Abbiati, despite a couple of howlers early in the season, in rock solid form once again. My vote: Milan

Midfield: While injuries threatened to determine this category, Milan have only Aquilani as doubtful to start as of this writing. Gattuso could well play, even if he doesn’t start, and Allegri has shown he has a versatile bunch, having one of the more enviable starting midfields in Serie A plus great options. Personally, I think we have the most depth of talent in this category, too. Inter have known players like Sneijder, Thiago Motta, Cordoba, Stankovic and Cambiasso as well as newer, very talented players like Alvarez, Poli, Coutinho, and Obi making a name for themselves. The impossible but talented Sneijder is rumored to be returning for the derby, just in time to be tormented again by his national teammate van Bommel, a highlight last year for sure. But still, no competition for the likes of Milan’s talented and tough midfield, who score as much or more as our forwards. My vote: Milan

"Not so fast, little Dutch boy."

Attack: While Milan have the most feared attack in Serie A who have also scored the most goals this season, despite losing Cassano, it seemed that Inter would compete with the likes of Forlan, Pazzini, Zarate, Milito, and the exciting Castaignos. But Forlan has had injury troubles, Pazzini is only just now finding his form, Zarate has largely disappointed, Milito also disappointing until very recently, and Castaignos being the only one to live up to expectations. Forlan is rumored to be returning for the derby, so there could be some fireworks. But I still have to lean toward the tried and true dominating force that is Milan, with Ibra, Pato, Robinho in leading roles, and the formidable Inzaghi and exciting El Shaarawy as options from the bench. My vote: Milan

While my voting seems decidedly for Milan, it is not as if Inter are not competitive in each category. Plus, the result will only be determined after 90+ minutes on the pitch. And anything can happen in 90 minutes, especially in a derby.

Please tell us whether you expect Milan or Inter to dominate each of the following categories (or a tie) and why:

Tactics
Defense
Midfield
Attack

And just for fun, let’s see if we can predict the Milan man of the match. I’ve chosen players that could be gamechangers, you vote for the player that you think will make the biggest difference in the derby.


Next match is the Derby della Madonnina
Milan vs. Inter
Sunday January 15, 2012 20:45 CET or 2:45pm EST
In the U.S., this game is being broadcast on FSC and RAI International
This post inspired by the music of Rage Against the Machine