Serie A Preview: Internazionale v. AC Milan

Date: Sunday, September 13, 2015

Kickoff: 2:45 PM ET (USA) / 20:45 CET (ITA)

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

It rings a little hollow to call Inter undefeated at this early point in the season, but Milan will certainly need to be a lot better to beat their 2-0 neighbors and hosts in the derby this weekend. The Rossoneri were the better squad over a match and a half in the preseason, but they’ve yet to be the better squad in Serie A this season. Both Milanese squads are hoping to reestablish themselves as top five clubs, making this derby vital no matter how early it falls.

Plus, It’s Inter, and we really, truly hate them.

Last season both derbies ended in draws, and last season both teams were disappointing. Not much has changed for the red and black half of the city just yet despite the win over Empoli and the Nerazzurri come in winners of their first two matches. Against Atalanta an Carpi though, so forgive me for not buying into an Inter renaissance just yet.

Tale of the Tape

We’re obviously still working with a small sample size when it comes to statistics, but some of the numbers are not looking great for the Rossoneri.

We are dead last in the league in shots taken, having managed zero on goal in our opener and netting 2 of our meager 6 total shots against Empoli. Inter on the other hand, have averaged close to 17 in the opening two rounds.

Our hated rivals also have the highest possession percentage so far at a whopping 63%. Milan sit middle of that table with close to just 46%. I’d say our midfield gives me nightmares, but our midfield isn’t scaring anyone. 78% passing success certainly isn’t helping our cause.

Milan have been solid in the air though, winning 61% of aerial challenges. It was nice to see us score off a corner too, and maybe set pieces can be a weapon rather than an Achilles heel throughout this campaign.

Finally, while I’m not advocating we go straight up route one every time, the fact that we only attack directly up the middle of the field 21% of the time so far is a bit worrying. Yes, width is good, but when everyone knows that’s exactly what you’re going to try in every foray forward it becomes very predictable and stale. Abandoning the middle of the pitch in the attacking third makes life far too comfortable for opposing center backs, if you ask me.

Miracle in Milan: Rossoneri score from corner.

Miracle in Milan: Rossoneri score from corner.

Missing Pieces

Injury woes already? Silvio’s karma is catching up to us. Bertolacci and Antonelli are added to Mexes, Menez, and Niang on the trainer’s table.

Dodo, Biabiany, Vidic, and Miranda miss out for Inter.

Possible Line-up

Diego Lopez

Abate – Ely – Romagnoli – De Sciglio

Poli – De Jong – Bonaventura

Honda

Bacca- Luiz Adriano

Mihajlovic continues to search for the right combination of players for his formation, but there are some mainstays. Bacca and Luiz Adriano are going to be the duo up front, and each opened their account last time out. They continue to receive DMV quality service.

Skipping a little deeper we have a solid spine in De Jong, Romangoli, and Diego Lopez. But that leaves several key positions in states of uncertainty or stagnant. Take Abate and De Sciglio, neither has wowed us in close to a year, but they’re pretty entrenched in the fullback positions if Antonelli is unavailable.

I’d slot Ely right back in next to Romagnoli. He was naive in round one, but aren’t we all at 21? Let’s work on establishing an effective pair, rather than just rotating through band-aid solutions.

And then, and still, there’s the rest of the midfield. Bonaventura has been solid, and in my opinion he should be consistently finding a place in the side. This week I’ve got him out on the left, with Poli on the right. Poli is a useful player. Not glowing praise I guess but, he’s not Nocerino.

And call me crazy, but I put Honda behind the strikers again. Suso didn’t particularly impress in the role last round, and I don’t love Montolivo in that role. Or any role really but anyway. Cerci won’t pass, and Balotelli is too chunky for Sinisa still. I’d suggest Mauri maybe if I thought that was even a remote possibility.

Get'em Nigel!

Get’em Nigel!

What to Watch for:

Danger Man – Scorer of each of Inter’s three goals this season, Stevan Jovetic is the man to watch out for on Sunday. Eager to prove his lackluster tenure at Manchester City was a fluke, the Montenegrin forward has snatched the points late in both of Inter’s first two matches. The type of player who can get a bit lost and disappear from time to time, that may only make him more dangerous when he pops up in a lethal situation.

Discipline – I point this out for almost every derby, but it bears repeating. The side that keeps its cool in the more combustible moments may find themselves in the advantage. Inter are already one of the most cautioned teams in the league this season, and Milan’s problems with red cards since last season is well documented.

Balotelli – I have the feeling he might see some action against his former club, and I will admit I still have a soft spot for the player. Should he even get close to the scoring form he maintained during his first Milan stint, and he can pay attention to the previous point I made (re: discipline) he may prove to be the bargain of the Summer.

About Dave Lamb

Dave Lamb is a lifelong Milan supporter, public school teacher, and aspiring stand-up comedian living in Boston. You can follow him on twitter @DaveLambComedy

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