Inter - AC Milan Preview: Rossoneri's Scudetto hopes hinge on Derby della Madonnina
A slip-up from the champions could hand the Serie A title to Juventus while the Nerazzurri's chances of qualifying for the Champions League also remain in the balance
By Adam Scime
Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Zanetti
Guarin, Cambiasso, PoliSneijder, Alvarez
Abate, Nesta, Bonera, Antonini
Nocerino, Van Bommel, Muntari
Inter will look to maintain their chances of reaching third place by rebounding from the midweek loss to Parma and have been boosted by the return of captain Javier Zanetti. The 38-year-old has missed the last three matches with a leg injury, but is set to return for the all-important Derby della Madonnina.
However, the Argentine's comeback coincides with the loss of Dejan Stankovic, who will require surgery to repair an Achilles tendon issue and will miss the rest of the season. Energetic Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin is expected to take the Serbian's place in the starting XI. Defender Cristian Chivu and striker Luc Castaignos remain absent due to injury.
The biggest dilemma for coach Andrea Stramaccioni awaits in the attacking third, where Mauro Zarate and Ricky Alvarez are in contention to join Wesley Sneijder and Diego Milito in the line-up.
For AC Milan, hope of defender Thiago Silva being ready to feature have reportedly been dashed, so veteran Alessandro Nesta is expected to partner Daniele Bonera at centre-back. Right-back Ignazio Abate and midfielder Mark van Bommel should return after being rested against Atalanta, while Urby Emanuelson is also once again available, but will likely have to settle for a place on the bench.
Meanwhile, coach Massimiliano Allegri will choose either Antonio Cassano or Robinho to partner current Serie A top-scorer in 2011-12 Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack, with Kevin-Prince Boateng in a supporting role behind the two strikers.
Former Inter man Clarence Seedorf is expected to miss out once again, along with long-term absentees Alexandre Pato and Filippo Inzaghi.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Inter suffered their first loss in seven matches under new boss Stramaccioni on Wednesday in a 3-1 defeat against Parma at the Tardini.
- The Nerazzurri have the edge over the course of all Serie A fixtures between the two sides (W57 D49 L49).
- Diego Milito has struck three times in five top-flight matches against the Rossoneri since joining Inter from Genoa in 2009, including the winner when the sides last met in January.
- Inter currently sit three points behind Napoli and Udinese in the race for third place in Serie A and the last Champions League qualifying spot. They are 10/1 to win the game 1-0 with bet365.
- AC Milan have the most prolific attack in Serie A this season, having scored 70 goals in 36 matches.
- The last 14 derbies have not ended in a draw, the last stalemate coming in October 2004.
- Allegri's side are on a three-match winning streak and cut the gap to league leaders Juventus down to a point by defeating Atalanta 2-0 on Wednesday night with goals from Sulley Muntari and Robinho.
- Eight players have been sent off in the last seven derbies between the city rivals, five for Inter and three for AC Milan.
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Top 3 Predictions
Inter 9-0 AC Milan
- 14.59 %
Inter 0-8 AC Milan
- 11.84 %
Inter 8-0 AC Milan
- 10.34 %
|Serie A (SR-A)||24 Feb 2013||Inter 1 - AC Milan 1|
|Serie A (SR-A)||7 Oct 2012||AC Milan 0 - Inter 1|
|Serie A (SR-A)||6 May 2012||Inter 4 - AC Milan 2|
|Serie A (SR-A)||15 Jan 2012||AC Milan 0 - Inter 1|
|Club Friendlies (FRC)||18 Aug 2011||AC Milan 0 - Inter 1|
|15 Dec 2013||Napoli 4 - Inter 2||SR-A|
|8 Dec 2013||Inter 3 - Parma 3||SR-A|
|4 Dec 2013||Inter 3 - Trapani 2||ITAC|
|1 Dec 2013||Inter 1 - Sampdoria 1||SR-A|
|24 Nov 2013||Bologna 1 - Inter 1||SR-A|
|-||Iván Ramiro Córdoba||Defender|
|17||Mark van Bommel||Midfielder|
|2||Mattia De Sciglio||Defender|
|8||Gennaro Ivan Gattuso||Midfielder|
Since returning from injury to play under Stramaccioni, the Dutchman has arguably been his team's best player and looks rejuvenated playing alongside Alvarez and just behind Milito. Sneijder can do it all in the final third of the pitch: score, assist and put in dangerous set-pieces - and if he can avoid the intentions of compatriot Van Bommel and Muntari could lead Inter to victory.
The last time these two sides met, Ibrahimovic cut an isolated figure and was shackled by Lucio and Walter Samuel. However, he cannot afford to let that happen this time around if the Rossoneri are to win. The Sweden international won't let the Scudetto go without a fight, so - win or lose - watch for a powerful performance from the striker against his former team.
With so much on the line, both sides cannot afford anything less than all three points, which means we should be in for an entertaining treat on Sunday night. Inter have looked reinvigorated by Stramaccioni, but Milan have recovered from a recent slump as well. Form typically has no saying in this heated confrontation, so, for the neutrals among us, I'll just suggest that Milan will keep their title chances alive in order for a dramatic final matchday to take place with respect to the Scudetto race.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed