Inter-AC Milan Preview: Balotelli return sets stage for a fiery Derby della Madonnina
The Italian striker has had an electric start to his career with the Rossoneri and will be hopeful for momentum to continue against one of his former clubs
By Tom Webber
Zanetti, Chivu, Juan, Nagatomo
Kuzmanovic, Kovacic, Cambiasso
Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant
Montolivo, Ambrosini, Muntari
Bojan, Balotelli, El Shaarawy
Inter host an AC Milan side which includes former Nerazzurri star Mario Balotelli, as both clubs target victory at the San Siro to mount a push for automatic Champions League qualification.
Andrea Stramaccioni has some new faces of his own as, despite being January additions to the Inter ranks, Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Mateo Kovacic have already become regulars in the starting XI. The pair should both feature from kick off but with Alvaro Pereira suspended Dejan Stankovic could be called in to provide more experience in midfield.
Andrea Ranocchia is not expected to feature due to injury, so Christian Chivu will return to the fold, with Yuto Nagatomo beginning the game from left-back having been rested during the midweek Europa League win over Cluj.
Mario Balotelli will make his return to the Derby della Madonnina, though this time he will feature on the side of the Rossoneri. The striker was ineligible for Wednesday's victory against Barcelona and could be supported in attack by on-loan Blaugrana talent Bojan.
With Antonio Nocerino, Mathieu Flamini and Nigel de Jong all sidelined, Massimiliano Allegri is unlikely to make changes to his midfield trio.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Inter have won the last three meetings between these two sides, two of which ended 1-0.
- A fourth-minute goal from Walter Samuel handed the Nerazzurri all the points in the reverse of the fixture earlier this season.
- Andrea Stramaccioni's men are undefeated in their last 10 home matches in Serie A.
- Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Mateo Kovacic (pictured right) could both make their Derby della Madonnina debut this weekend.
- Milan sit in third position in the table, just one point above their fifth-placed opponents.
- The Rossoneri last shared the spoils with Inter 20 games ago, a record which stretches back to October 2004.
- Milan hold the upper hand in terms of derby wins, boasting 81 triumphs to their arch-rival's 77.
- Massimiliano Allegri's men are currently on an eight-game undefeated run in the league.
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Top 3 Predictions
FC Internazionale 0-2 AC Milan
- 18.95 %
FC Internazionale 1-2 AC Milan
- 13.52 %
FC Internazionale 1-3 AC Milan
- 10.94 %
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Feb 24, 2013||FC Internazionale 1 - AC Milan 1|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Oct 7, 2012||AC Milan 0 - FC Internazionale 1|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||May 6, 2012||FC Internazionale 4 - AC Milan 2|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Jan 15, 2012||AC Milan 0 - FC Internazionale 1|
|Club Friendlies (FR)||Aug 18, 2011||AC Milan 0 - FC Internazionale 1|
|Dec 4, 2013||FC Internazionale 3 - Trapani 2||ITAC|
|Dec 1, 2013||FC Internazionale 1 - Sampdoria 1||ITA1|
|Nov 24, 2013||Bologna 1 - FC Internazionale 1||ITA1|
|Nov 9, 2013||FC Internazionale 2 - Livorno 0||ITA1|
|Nov 3, 2013||Udinese 0 - FC Internazionale 3||ITA1|
|2||Mattia De Sciglio||Defender|
|92||Stephan El Shaarawy||Striker|
The Colombian has been playing well in the hole behind the strikers and is expected to offer support from such a position once more this weekend. Not only does he have the eye to pick out a pass, he can execute it with unerring accuracy. He also has the ability to test the opposing goalkeeper with a tremendously powerful shot that comes as just one of the strings to his bow. If he can find space to drift in to, then, he has the talent to unlock the defence and give Milan plenty of problems.
Returning to face the club where he was part of a team that won an historic treble under Jose Mourinho in the 2009-10 season, Balotelli is in red-hot form. The Rossoneri new-boy has netted four goals in his first three appearances for Allegri's men and having had a week-long rest he will be keen to continue his goal-scoring record on Sunday. When he is in the mood he can be almost unplayable, but if things do not go his way, then, his impact can be next to minimal. Milan will be hopeful he picks up where he left off following the 2-1 win over Parma and return to haunt his former employers.
Inter have won the last three Milan derbies, but coming off the back of a well-earned win against Barcelona in midweek AC Milan will have momentum on their side. The players will now have a new-found confidence and will be eagerly anticipating the match against their fiercest rivals. But the Nerazzurri showed signs of recovery from last weekend's humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of Fiorentina with a comfortable win over Cluj on Thursday. These teams have not shared the spoils for 20 matches now but Massimiliano Allegri's men should have enough about them to shade a win.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed