Friday, September 11, 2015

Inter vs. Milan Preview: The Haves and the Have Nots


Traditionally, Inter have been supported by fans who are upper middle class, while Milan have been supported by the working class. So it’s no surprise that Inter spent this transfer window, despite already being sanctioned for FFP violations. And while Inter bought seemingly every available player for Mancini, who of course makes double what Mihajlovic makes, it’s not always what you have that matters. It’s how you use it. Which is why this scrappy little Milan team beat Mancini’s collection of players twice this summer. So once again, it’s the haves and the have not’s. But money can’t buy everything.

Red like the fire, black like your fear... from the working class fans

This summer, Inter changed more than half of their squad, with only nine of their 25 first team players remaining the same. They got rid of Hernanes, Shaquiri, Kovacic, Krhin, and Taider, amongst others. They also brought in Kondogbia, Montoya, Jovetic, Perisic, Melo, Telles, and Ljajic. Also Biabiany. That Biabiany. While it seemed they would not have all of the pieces of their puzzle, the last few days of the transfer window saw them make multiple moves that were exactly what they needed, and you could almost audibly hear the pieces snap into place.

However, teams are not puzzles, they are people. And people need time to build a working relationship and form a team They started out their campaign at home to Atalanta, and needed a very late goal from Jovetic to win that one. Then they were away to bottom of the table Carpi, where Jovetic scored in the 31st, then Carpi equalized, and it took a late penalty from Jovetic to pull off the 2-1 win. (Yes, you read that right, Inter were awarded a penalty, lest their whiny fans forget.) So while they do have six points, they are not a very convincing six points. Sunday will really be their first test this season, and if it goes anything like their summer friendlies or even their lackadaisical Serie A performances, Milan could prove too much for this team for hire. Did I mention that Milan beat them twice this summer?

Someone forgot to tell him that Inter don't get penalties

For the unconvincing Carpi match, Mancini lined up Handanovic; Juan Jesus, Santon, Murillo, Miranda; Kondogbia, Jovetic, Guarin, Medel, Brozovic, and Palacio. At this point Icardi is training with the team, but was a doubt earlier this week due to injury. Also injured are Biabiany, Dodo, Vidic, and Miranda. It’s anyone’s guess how Inter will play since they purchased so many of their new players at the end of the summer, but obviously Jovetic is a serious threat with three goals in two games. And it will be interesting to see how the newest purchases, Ljajic & Perisic play with the team.

Milan may be the have-nots, as they failed to pick up a decent midfielder at the end of the summer. But at least they have Kucka, the mediocre 28 year old Slovakian midfielder who was called up but did not even feature for Slovakia this past international break. We also won’t have Antonelli, Niang, Mexes, or Menez due to injury.

Our MVP may not be on the pitch

But what we do have is Mihajlovic, Mancini’s friend, former teammate, and student. Did I mention he’s ex-Inter? Or that he beat his mentor twice so far? After meeting with representatives of the Curva Sud yesterday at Casa Milan, he was applauded. And to the fans’ delight, he also jumped when they sang “Chi non salta Nerazzurri è!” (whoever doesn’t jump is an Interista.) But more importantly, he’s got something to prove. After a tough loss away to Fiorentina and an ugly win at home to Empoli, he said Milan need to lose the “ghosts of the past” and change their mentality. Then he openly criticized the players after their performance vs. Mantova in a friendly. While this may sound like the team are in a mess, I actually believe we will see a fierce performance from them. And while Milan do not have the level of talent that Inter have, they have a cause.

It’s hard to know who will step up for Milan. Our two young center backs will likely be reunited and determined not to make mistakes again. Poli is ex-Inter, and Bonaventura nearly was, plus Inter are Bonaventura’s favorite target. If rumors are true and Mihajlovic is planning an attacking trio of Bacca, Adriano, and Balotelli, then I hope Inter’s defense, weakened by injuries, don’t go home crying. Balotelli especially will have something to prove, not only to the haters, but to his former club. Plus, Milan beat Inter twice already this summer.

It's never just a friendly with the snakes

They call this a family derby, and if it’s meant to be a family of highly dysfunctional relationships, then I couldn’t agree more. It’s no secret that for me, since 2006, Inter have taken the sport out of this sporting rivalry. I hate them, I absolutely hate them. But on Sunday, there will be 22 players on the pitch. (Or maybe more, if Inter can figure out how to gain an unfair advantage.) But hopefully, it is a sporting match with not too many cards and lots of goals. Lots of beautiful Milan goals. And lots of tears, too, primarily at the north end of the stadium. If this match is truly a game of the haves and have nots, then I hope that Milan have the three points at the end of the match, and Inter have not.


This post inspired by the music of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”


il Derby della Madonnina
Inter vs. AC Milan
Sunday, September 13 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This match will be shown on RAI in the U.S.