A whole season could be at play in Sunday’s Milan v Inter clash as one club looks to move towards the Champions League places and another tries to hang on
In the snow that covers and refreshes the streets of Milan, a whole city is getting ready for the biggest event of the year. No, I’m not talking about the Italian General Elections that will take place on Sunday 4th of March, but the Derby della Madonnina, to be staged at the Stadio San Siro that same Sunday. It’s a game that could define the rest of the season for AC Milan and Inter, and an encounter that is in itself a fundamental classic for the city of Milan and Italy as a whole.
No other derby in the world is like this one: in no other case are there two teams from the same city this historically powerful, rich, victorious and strong facing each other. Both Milanese clubs have 18 Serie A titles to their name; AC Milan have won seven Champions League trophies, Inter three. It’s been a battle down the years between Sandro Mazzola and Gianni Rivera first, passing through Marco Van Basten, Franco Baresi, Giuseppe Bergomi, Javier Zanetti, Andrij Shevchenko, Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Diego Milito, and now Mauro Icardi.
❄️| Work in the snow at the Suning Training Centre!
— Inter (@Inter_en) March 1, 2018
Names that have defined the history of this sport and the parallel lives of Milan and Inter. Both are now dependent on a Champions League spot to fuel the ambitions of their respective Chinese owners. Suning group for Inter – transparent and financially strong – Li Yonghong and his investors for Milan – with many doubts over economic stability and with question marks on who is behind him.
This derby will be the third this season, and the previous two have been absolute game changers: Inter won the first Serie A clash 3-2, ending (or at least we all thought so at the time…) every hope of a Rossoneri comeback in the Champions League race and boosting their morale. Milan won the Coppa Italia derby on the 27th of December, the first great result under Gennaro Gattuso, killing Inter and revamping their season, making it now to the final of the Coppa Italia and back to only seven points behind the Nerazzurri.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) March 1, 2018
Gattuso has changed the spirit at Milan, just like Luciano Spalletti had done so apparently in his first months at Inter. With roughly the same players as their predecessors, both Gattuso and Spalletti got great results, with the former improving constantly, and the latter first victorious, now in a deep crisis. Spalletti has tons of experience, Gattuso is in his first serious top flight job: it is also a duel between the two coaches.
With a win, Milan will get back to just four points difference, keeping up the momentum and their chances of a top four finish to the maximum. A place in next season’s Champions League is a must for both, even more so for Inter, who have been in the top five positions since the beginning of the season, and at one point were even leading the table, with talks of the possibility of winning the title. That is, before the crisis hit. In that time, the Rossoneri built on their wins, certainties, and on Gattuso’s revolution, to climb up the table and make this derby as amazing as they have always been. Suffice to say, it is one to watch and enjoy.