Hassan Chamas

What: Serie A (Matchday 2)
Who: AC Milan (2nd) – Internazionale (12th).
When: Saturday 29th August, 2009 at 20:45 local time.
Where: San Siro, Milan, Italy.

The 273rd Milan derby gets underway really fast this year in Italian calcio. Defending champions Inter will be sure to get on the correct path towards a fifth consecutive Scudetto with a win over city rivals Milan, while the Rossoneri will do everything in their power, despite a relatively quiet transfer market, to halt Mourinho’s new boy Samuel Eto’o and the rest of the lads.

Ever heard of a transfer market?

That does seem the case for AC Milan this year: while whispers have been going on in previous years of a supposed clog in Milan’s ability to pump the cash, Berlusconi and the rest of his henchmen pretty much made it clear that the Lombardi outfit have very little to spend. The team’s major recruit was Dutch reject Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who landed for €15M from Real Madrid. Elsewhere, players such as Gianmarco Zigoni, Ignazio Abate, Marco Storari, Flavio Roma, and Davide Di Gennaro all arrived at the Milanello for less than €5M. Hardly anything to cheer for the Diavoli supporters. However, despite their less than honourable pre-season, Milan succeeded in grabbing their first three points of the campaign against Siena in the opening fixture of this year’s championship, with an Alexandre Pato brace proving enough for Leonardo’s team. Also, Thiago Silva’s impressive start, as well as encouraging displays from the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Ronaldinho should be noted. Could they stun Inter and grab the headlines?

Same old start

It seems as if, for the first time ever in the post-Calciopoli era, Internazionale will be truly put to the test now that their star Zlatan Ibrahimovic is no longer at the club, having headed towards Spanish and European champions Barcelona. Ibracadabra’s departure was met with Samuel Eto’o’s arrival, who despite finishing on a high last season with Barcelona themselves, did not seem to be on father Guardiola’s gift list. From the second “Samu” landed at the Malpensa airport, new coach Jose Mourinho was fast to describe him as the best player in the world – just as Frank Lampard and Ibra himself were when they had JM to look up to. Bottom line, Mourinho was very fast to employ Eto’o next to new signing Diego Milito as an attacking pair, but that wasn’t enough for the reigning champions, as Inter failed to clinch the opening three points of the season against Bari, a feat they have replicated for the past four Serie A campaigns.

Recent form

AC Milan:
Benfica 1-1 AC Milan (friendly)
AC Milan 6-5 Juventus (Trofeo Berlusconi; after penalties)
Siena 1-2 AC Milan (Serie A)

Inter 1-0 Monaco (friendly).
Inter 1-2 Lazio (Italian Supercup).
Inter 1-1 Bari (Serie A).

Players to watch

AC Milan – Alexandre Pato: The Brazilian is set to lead the Rossoneri this season in what promises to be a difficult adventure for them. He turned into a one man wonder the previous weekend against Siena, and if he is on top of his game this Saturday he can give Inter a very hard time. Also, keep an eye out for the official debut of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. “The Hunter” missed out on the opening day, but will be sure to start his Serie A career on a high against Milan’s city rivals.

Internazionale – Lucio: Another Brazilian who grabbed fans’ attention was Lucio, who produced a superb display against Bari, despite a below-par performance from the rest of his team-mates. Elsewhere, Samuel Eto’o will be looking forward to breaking through Milan’s grandpa-like defence with his trademark pace.

Match prediction

The Milan derby this year comes a bit early, but that doesn’t mean that sparks won’t fly around the Giuseppe Meazza. Milan are facing probably their most difficult season in recent memory, and the fact that Inter have remained near-intact during the summer will make things very hard for Leonardo’s team. A 2-1 win for Inter seems like a reasonable outcome. 

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