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Milan Derby Debate: Inter-Milan Best XI

NB: Players who are confirmed not to feature in the Milan derby on Sunday because of injuries or other reasons have not been considered for this team.

Julio Cesar (Inter)


Julio Cesar is one of the three best custodians in the world at the moment along with Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon. The Brazilian international has been in red hot form for the best part of the last three years and has been in fine form this season too. Cesar's heroics for Inter between the sticks have not always been heralded by those outside Italian football but those who watch him week in, week out would argue that he was probably the safest pair of hands in 2008-2009. Brazilian football is not reputed to have produced too many world class goalkeepers but the 30-year-old is certainly one of the chosen ones.

Maicon (Inter)

Another Brazilian making the list is Maicon and, like Julio Cesar, he is part of the defensive unit at Inter. Theoretically he is a right-back but Maicon often features as an 'outside-right', implying that he is always on the overlap and needs no second invitation to go on rampaging runs along the right flank. Daniel Alves might be the best attacking right-back in the world and Sergio Ramos more gifted technically, but Maicon's strength lies in an all-round balanced performance in which he finds the right proportions between attack and defence. The 28-year-old has looked somewhat awkward in the attacking department very recently but he still boasts of three goals and five assists in 17 Serie A fixtures.

Thiago Silva (Milan)


The Brazilian centre-back was officially registered in the summer after being signed from Brazilian side Fluminense and like most signings made by Adriano Galliani and company, there was a hint of suspicion about the sanity of this move. However, the Milan chiefs appear to have hit a jackpot in Thiago Silva as the 25-year-old, when fit, has ably complemented Nesta in central defence. His reading of the game has been excellent and so has been his occasional foraging runs into the opposition's penalty area; it would be difficult to find a better central defensive partnership than Nesta and Silva at the moment.

Alessandro Nesta (Milan)

Alessandro Nesta has been injured since anyone can remember but few would argue that he has not been the best centre-back in Europe this campaign. Milan's backline has been leaky and uncertain at times but along with Thiago Silva, Nesta has been a rock in central defence. His confidence, calmness, timely tackles, interventions and reading of the game have been crucial. Add to that his three league goals and one assist, and suddenly you stop asking whether there is any better central defender than Nesta these days.




Massimo Ambrosini (Milan)


One would have been pardoned to assume that at 32 Massimo Ambrosini was only adding to Milan's woes. But like the rest of the Rossoneri the Italian has had an excellent season so far and his battling qualities in the defensive department of the midfield have been superb. Of course, detractors would still doubt his ability to carry on playing the way he has until the end of the campaign but facts suggest that Ambrosini has been one of the most important players in Milan's aging side in 2009-2010.

Esteban Cambiasso (Inter)

Real Madrid didn't rate him highly and so let him go but at Inter Esteban Cambiasso has developed into a world class defensive-minded central midfielder. The Argentine international has been a permanent cog in the Nerazzurri midfield and there is a growing belief in the football community that he is one of the most underrated midfielders in the world: two goals and two assists in just 11 starts are not bad by any means for a non-attack-minded player. Cambiasso doesn't necessarily lunge into heavy challenges, but his calm, nonplussed, assured style to maintain the flow of the game and to keep Inter ticking cannot be overstated.


Javier Zanetti (Inter)

Since 1995, Zanetti has been the most consistent and loyal servant to Inter. The 36-year-old is said to hardly ever have a bad game, although he has looked under-par in a number of matches in Serie A this season. However, there is no doubt that Zanetti is one of the few evergreen players playing at the highest level at the moment. Nerazzurri coach Jose Mourinho has used him as a right-sided midfielder this season and Zanetti's ability to perform the role of a medio has been beneficial to Inter's cause.

Andrea Pirlo (Milan)

In the early stages of the season here at Goal.com we argued whether Milan coach Leonardo should play Andrea Pirlo as a trequartista after his success with the Italian national team in that position. It seems that the Brazilian bought the idea and has used the 30-year-old in a more advanced position in the Rossoneri midfield. Of course, our argument at the time assumed that Ronaldinho wouldn't become the Galileo Galilei of football and prove everybody wrong, but the point is that Pirlo has played very well as an attacking midfielder rather than as a deep-lying playmaker whose task encompasses providing a defensive steel too. The former Inter player has four assists to his name in Serie A and also scored a screamer against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Ronaldinho (Milan)

It would perhaps be pushing it a bit to suggest that Ronaldinho is back to his Barcelona form but it cannot be argued that like a certain Galileo Galilei who made everyone around him look idiots by proving that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way round, Ronaldinho has proved everyone wrong by demonstrating that his class is permanent. The former Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year is the leading assist provider in Serie A with eight assists and has also scored nine goals. This exhibits that the Brazilian sorcerer is nearing his best and, as he proved with his third goal against Siena at the weekend, he still has the technique in his two God-crafted feet.


Marco Borriello (Milan)

One great season and that was that: the Italian version of Emmanuel Adebayor. That was the common perception about Marco Borriello ahead of 2009-2010. The 27-year-old's sensational 2007-2008 campaign for Genoa had convinced Milan to re-sign their youth product but injuries ravaged him last season. This term, though, Borriello has been in excellent form. He scored a brace against Parma and Genoa and also netted a Mark van Basten-esque volley against Siena at the weekend, and has seven league goals and one assist in 11 league starts.

Diego Milito (Inter)

Goal.com recently named Diego Milito as the 'buy of the season' in Sere A so far and after 12 goals and three assists in 17 Serie A starts, Milito does deserve that accolade. Once described by the Sampdoria trequartista Antonio Cassano as "one of the best five strikers in the world", Milito is indispensable for the Nerrazzuri and is one of the main reasons why Inter are six points clear at the top of the standings in the Italian top flight. European performance has been sketchy for the Argentine international but his clinical finishing, movements and ability to pick up the runs of his teammates have been boons to Mourinho's tactics. The 30-year-old would be a menace for the Milan defenders.