People are still talking about the closing of the sale of Milan, as well they should be. Particularly since we are getting our first look at the new management today with the big press conference. But like the evil, all-knowing eye of Sauron, my focus has turned completely to the Derby. Because, hello? It’s the Derby. And not just any Derby. One that will likely matter if one team gets a Europa League spot or not. One that finds both teams on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to both their quality of players and their form. A tale of the lowly Biscione, or serpents, and the mighty (if a bit downtrodden) Diavoli, or devils. The Derby is always a tasty treat, but this one is shaping up to be spectacular.
|Artwork from the wall in the tunnels of San Siro shows how the story is supposed to end|
Inter have spent the week in ritiro because of their recent form. After destroying Cagliari 5-1 and Atalanta 7-1, they drew 2-2 at Torino, lost 2-1 to Sampdoria at home, then lost 2-1 away to Crotone last week. Personally, I don’t see the problem. Seems like they are in perfect form these past two games. But I also thought De Boer was doing the perfect job with them earlier this season. Whatever.
Ritiro is like getting detention at school… if that detention means you have to stay overnight with your teammates all week & not see your family. It’s used mostly in Italy when coaches don’t know what else to do. And Pioli certainly doesn’t know what to do. He’s got all the players. They’ve shown that they can win. So how do they lose 2-1 to Crotone? What Pioli failed to realize when he took the job is that Inter only really succeed when wiretapping and creating scandals to tear down their rivals. So I’m not sure his little ritiro slumber party is going to work.
|I would be absolutely fine with this score again.|
For their delicious loss to Crotone, Pioli lined up Handanovic; Medel, Miranda, Murillo, Kondogbia, Banega, Ansaldi, D’Ambrosio, Icardi, Perisic, and Candreva. It looks like he is only missing Gagliardini to injury, so he really has no excuses. Personally, I don’t care who he lines up to face us, as long as they all have the same mentality or worse than they did in their losses to Samp and Crotone.
Montella has a very different climate coming into this match, as the sale of Milan finally happened on Thursday. Whether that is a distraction to the team or whether it is a massive boost in morale is up to Montella. I suspect it will be the latter, particularly after Milan shook off their little slump with a convincing 4-0 win against Palermo on Sunday. Plus the mentality has really been Montella’s thing this year, especially shielding the team from off the pitch distractions.
|Don't mind re-creating this image, either.|
For the Derby, Montella will unfortunately be missing Pasalic to suspension. Also out to injury still are Abate, Bertolacci, Bonaventura, and Montolivo. The latter will actually play with the Primavera, as he is just approaching match fitness. Which is another plus for Milan in the Derby. Yet another advantage is that we got Suso back from injury last week. Not only was he the MOTM on Sunday against Palermo, but if you’ll recall, it was his brace in November that gave Milan the 2-2 in that Derby. Hoping he’ll be fired up and on target yet again.
This match is perhaps the most important match for both teams this season, at least so far. Like when you shake a soda can and the pressure created makes it ready to explode, this match is likely to see a similar effect. Even if it’s frustrating for much of the match, at some point, look for it to explode. And hopefully explode past Handanovic. This isn’t just a familial rivalry. It’s not about two now Chinese-owned teams facing off. Nor is it just a potentially decisive match for a possible Europa League spot. This is about justice, about heart, and about triumph. All of which I hope belong to Milan at the final whistle. Because when we speak of serpents and devils, ideally the devils always come out on top.
This match inspired by the music of INXS’ “The Devil Inside”
il Derby della Madonnina
Inter vs. Milan
Saturday, April 15 • 12:30 CST (6:30 EDT)
This match will be shown on RAI and BeIN Sports in the U.S.