It is shaping up to be one of the biggest Milan Derby’s in recent memory as both A.C Milan and Internazionale face a season defining clash at the San Siro on Monday morning.
A.C Milan head into this game on the back of a ten-game unbeaten run in all competitions and have not experienced defeat in the league since December 23 against Fiorentina.
After going four games without a goal in December and facing an enormous slide down the table – Milan have been able to arrest their stuttering form and completely shut sides out with enormous defensive efforts (only conceding five goals since their last defeat), and on the back of the inspiring form of new signings Lucas Paqueta and free-scoring Krzysztof Piątek.
During this run, the Rossoneri have climbed from sixth to now reaching third place and have accumulated their most points at this stage of the season since their last qualification for the UEFA Champions League back in 2013.
However, for their opponents, Inter, the story has been a complete opposite to that of their neighbours.
The dragged-on Mauro Icardi saga has impacted the Inter set-up as they have faced not just a run of baron results but elimination from both the Coppa Italia and Europa League. Disappointing results against Cagliari, Fiorentina, Bologna and Torino have seen Inter slide right back into the mixer for the final two Champions League spots as they look to turn-around their dismal form in arguably their biggest game of the season thus far.
Fresh off their defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, a win in the Milan Derby is shaping up as a non-negotiable as a loss would see them slip further behind their rivals and potentially face dropping out of the top four with Roma on their tail.
What does work in the favour of Luciano Spalletti is that Inter have had the better of Milan in recent history. Since Milan’s Scudetto winning season back in 2011, the Rossoneri have only defeated Inter four times in 16 games with only two of those coming in the league itself. Inter also defeated Milan back in October in the reverse fixture where the now inactive Mauro Icardi was the hero scoring in the final moments.
This is arguably the biggest derby between the two sides since 2011 when both sides were firmly entrenched at the top of the table. On that occasion it was Milan who emerged victorious with a remarkable 3-0 win which all but sealed their Serie A crown. Since then, the majority of the derbies have been during periods where either side has faced prolonged periods of mediocrity.
This weekend’s game is of utmost importance for both sides. For Milan, a win all but seals a return to Europe’s elite after a five-year absence but for Inter it could be a major deathblow in the coaching tenure of Spalletti and continue what has been months of pure disarray for the Nerrazzuri.