Week 23: A Crucial Derby Della Madonnina?
Amidst a poor run, the worst since over one whole year ago it is time for another Milan derby and now Inter have overtaken Milan for first place in the Serie A standings. The deficit is only a single point however. It is too early to call this Derby della Madonnina crucial but a win will be a morale boost in addition to moving back to the top spot. All this after a disappointing tie at Red Star Belgrade and a much worse loss at Spezia days earlier.
The team has returned to a healthy state, sort of. Bennacer returned to the injured list during the Europa league match and will likely remain there for a few weeks and Mandzukic has an apparently small muscle problem. Somewhat surprisingly Diaz is back in the squad. Inter are also relatively healthy and come into this match with more rest having had no midweek European commitment.
For the starting 11 the only real question mark is the left wing. Rebic is likely to be preferred to Leao as Pioli knows he must keep an eye on Inter’s Achraf Hakimi on Inter’s right side. It is not out of the question that, as a previous encounter against Inter, Krunic gets some minutes in a so called holding role. Otherwise upfront the starters are Ibra, Calhanoglu and Saelemaekers. The latter has recently returned from injury and has been poor. If he regains his 2020 form it will make life easier for Milan. Tonali will have to be Bennacer’s deputy and is the one to play alongside Kessie.
Donnarumma will of course start in goal. Calabria returns to the right back spot and will play the opposite side of Theo. Romagnoli’s below par form and his outstretched hand were at fault at Belgrade and there have been some calls for a Tomori and Kjaer partnership in the middle of defence. However, dropping the captain for a derby match is one of the least likely things that can happen. Therefore Kjaer and Romagnoli will have the task of containing Inter’s Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez. Closer and more aggressive marking of the two snipers can make the difference between a win and a loss.
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