Boosted by an unexpected away win in the Champions League in midweek, AC Milan return to domestic action hoping to prevail against their local rivals Internazionale in the Derby della Madonnina (7.45pm BST, Sunday, Oct 7).
Milan raced into a quick two goal lead against the Russian side Zenit Saint-Petersburg on Wednesday. Despite their hosts fighting back to 2-2 early in the second half, Milan held on and benefited from a fortunate own-goal to take all three points.
It was a less than classic performance from Milan, who were grateful to veteran goalkeeper Christian Abbiati for some phenomenal saves to keep Zenit at bay. But it was nevertheless a welcome pick-me-up after a patchy start to the season for the Rossoneri.
Youngster Stephen El Shaarawy produced a superb solo goal to continue his excellent scoring form – he now has five goals in his last four starts. However, he, Bojan and Kevin Prince Boateng, so industrious against Parma the weekend previous, otherwise did very little of note.
The introduction of the physical presence of Giampaolo Pazzini for Bojan early in the second half gave Milan a better out ball to relieve the pressure building on them. Pazzini’s performance was by no means outstanding, but he did a solid job and will surely be in consideration to start against his former club on Sunday.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri will have taken great heart from Wednesday’s victory, especially as a change he made just past the hour mark was effective in helping his team cope with the home team’s attacking threat. Milan began with a 4-2-1-3 formation. Seeing they were too open in midfield, Allegri introduced Antonio Nocerino for Urby Emanuelson to create a true three-man central axis, which made it much harder for Zenit to move the ball through the centre of the pitch.
Allegri may feel it wise to employ a similar approach on Sunday, as his opposite number Andrea Stramaccioni often packs a number of midfielders into his starting eleven.
In an attempt to improve on an inconsistent start to the campaign, Stramaccioni switched from a 4-3-2-1 formation to 3-5-2 ahead of Inter’s match away to Chievo in week 5. Inter won 2-0 and followed it up with a 2-1 victory at home to Fiorentina last weekend, a result that moved them up to third in the Serie A table.
Stramaccioni had struggled to find the right balance between attack and defence earlier in the campaign. Width in his otherwise narrow formation had been provided by the two full-backs, but that necessitated the side midfielders being very conservative in order to cover these forward runs.
In the 3-5-2 the full-backs are pushed forward to become wing-backs and the addition of a third central defender provides the cover previously supplied by the side midfielders. Inter already appear a far more dynamic side, with wing-backs Yuto Nagatomo and Alvaro Pereira unconstrained in their attacking ambitions.
With a defensive midfielder sat in front of the central defenders there is also far more license for at least one of the two side midfielders to get forward in each attack, which should allow Inter to get more from Fredy Guarin. The Colombian was clearly constricted in the previous formation and should now be in a position to display more of offensive talents.
The injury-enforced absences of Wesley Sneijder and Rodrigo Palacio have allowed the strike partnership of Antonio Cassano and Diego Milito to blossom. Both scored in the victory over Fiorentina and they appear to be developing a splendid understanding.
What is more, neither made the trip to Azerbaijan for Thursday night’s 3-1 Europa League victory over Neftci, meaning they are well rested ahead of the derby.
Seven of Inter’s 10 league goals have been scored by one or the other and it is likely at least one of them will get on the scoresheet on Sunday.
AC Milan v Inter Milan Betting Tips
Milan were slightly fortunate to come away with a win in midweek, while Inter are looking strong since their switch to a 3-5-2 system and will be fresher having rested most of their key players.
- Back Inter to win @ 21/10 with Pinnacle Sports.
- With Cassano and Milito in excellent form, there is potentially money to be made in staking an equal amount on each of them to score at anytime. A small profit if one of them scores would become a large profit if both score. So back Antonio Cassano to score at anytime @ 12/5 with SkyBet and Diego Milito to score at anytime @ 2/1 with Coral.