Week 4: The Milan Derby
An ill-advised international break has resulted in more COVID-19 cases as travels across Europe and the world for international friendlies and matches has not helped stem the spread of the virus. Everyday news of positive cases are in the news and Milan is not spared. Gabbia is in isolation having traveled with the Azzurri under 21 team and Inter are harder hit with Alessandro Bastoni, Ashley Young, Radja Nainggolan, Roberto Gagliardini, Milan Skriniar and Ionut Radu totaling six in quarantine ahead of the derby. Ibra is back after testing negative having missed Serie A and Europa league games. Duarte has been isolating for the same but for reasons not known for a longer period than seen elsewhere. However, the game is going ahead because regulations say that a team can play with as little as 13 players available. The footballing world is certainly caught in the feared so called second wave of the pandemic. It is still not out of the question that competitions will be disrupted again and fans will have to navigate the world of football virtually using igaming search.
Romagnoli returns from injury but Rebic is still missing with his elbow not fully recovered. The team facing Inter will feature little surprises and the only real question mark is who will play as a nominal left winger when Rebic is absent. Saelemaekers, who made his national debut and shined for Belgium during the break, could be the beneficiary though Leao is a better fit for the left wing and did score twice in the week 3 3-0 defeat of Spezia. Donnarumma, in the midst of a never ending contract negotiation, is of course the starter as are Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli and Theo. Bennacer and Kessie have been impressive and will be a duo that will attract looks from richer teams in the coming transfer windows. Calahanoglu, soon to be asking for a big pay raise, may start with Castillejo and the aforementioned Belgian behind Ibra. Castillejo’s poor form has made him a much talked of player this season and it is not out of the question that Pioli will change his mind and not start him. Diaz is also an option for the left wing pushing Saelemaekers to his natural position.
This Milan has won its first three games to start a season for the first time in 14 years and hasn’t conceded in the first three for the first time in 49 years! It now faces a bigger challenge in Conte’s Inter. It is time to win a derby after suffering a Serie A derby drought. The last time Milan won a Derby della Madonnina match was in January 2016.
Follow the match as it happens, on the forum.