The Derby Della Madonnina is a fixture that, in recent times has failed to generate the same excitement as in years gone by. The match between Milan and city rivals Inter was on par with El Clasico, both in times of the excitement it generated worldwide and also the quality of football on display. The decline that both teams have experienced over the past five years has seen the match's importance diminish somewhat, even if the rivalry between the two clubs hasn't. However, the summer of investment that both clubs enjoyed ensured that September's clash, which the Rossoneri unfortunately lost 1-0 (despite a commendable performance) has at least somewhat regained the spectacle of old. The circumstances of this match however, give Milan the upper hand this time around.
In fact, this fixture couldn't have come at a better time for Milan. As well as suffering a humiliating 3-0 loss to Juventus on Wednesday in which they were thoroughly outplayed, the Nerazzurri's league form has been equally poor. Having lead the league for much of the season, they've now slipped to fourth in the standings and have registered just one win in their last five matches. Milan's form has been only marginally better however as the Rossoneri followed up a tepid draw against Empoli by barely scraping past Lega pro side Alessandria 1-0 in the Coppa Italia. Nonetheless, this is a key opportunity for Milan to get the upper hand over the Nerazzurri and deliver a killer blow that could kill their title aspirations and present a serious setback in their quest for Champions League qualification.
Cracks have begun to appear in a previously solid Inter defence as of late and the Nerazzurri have endured the same difficulty in scoring goals that Milan have this season. The signing of Eder though could help to rectify this problem, but what kind of Inter will turn up at the San Siro on Sunday is anyone's guess. The likes of Adem Ljajic and Mauro Icardi can cause plenty of problems for Milan and given the level of defence solidity we're accustomed to, the burden will fall on the shoulders of Gianluigi Donnarumma to them keep out. It is the youngster's first derby match since being promoted to the senior team, but his strong character suggests he won't be too overcome by the emotion of the occasion. Unfortunately, it's unlikely we'll be treated to a great game of football, given the quality of recent derby matches, but this is a key match for Milan and the result is all that matters. Bragging rights over Inter would provide at least some consolation for what has undoubtedly been a disappointing season for Milan.
As opposed to the second string side fielded mid-week, this match will see many of the regulars return to the starting line-up in a 4-4-2 set-up. There is the possibility of Jeremy Menez making a substitute appearance in the game following his return from injury. Mario Balotelli could also make an impact from the bench, as he did in the reverse fixture back in September. Milan will be relying on Carlos Bacca and Giacomo Bonaventura to make the difference principally however, as the two have been at the heart of almost all of Milan's best attacking play this season. Juraj Kucka could be useful in countering the brawn of this Inter side as well with his relentless work-ethic and defensive discipline. The onus is on Inter to get the result here, but Milan are well poised for a famous victory.
Milan: 4-4-2 - Gianluigi Donnarumma; Ignazio Abate, Alex, Alessio Romagnoli, Luca Antonelli; Keisuke Honda, Juraj Kucka, Riccardo Montolivo, Giacomo Bonaventura; M'Baye Niang, Carlos Bacca
Inter: 4-3-3 - Samir Handanovic; Danilo D'Ambrosio, Joao Miranda, Jeison Murillo, Alex Telles; Geoffrey Kondogbia, Gary Medel, Marcelo Brozovic; Ivan Perisic, Mauro Icardi, Adem Ljajic
It's the perfect time for Milan to face Italy's most boring team and a good opportunity to grab a win. Carlos Bacca is the man to puncture Inter's air-tight defence with his 11th goal of the season.
Milan 1-0 Inter