What: Italian Serie A
Who: AC Milan vs Inter
When: Sunday 7th October, 2012, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro), Milan, Italy

A New Era For The Rossoneri

This season has seen one of the worst ever starts to a campaign for Milan. Three defeats in six Serie A matches and a draw at home with lowly Anderlecht in their first Champions League game have shaken confidence.

After terrible losses at the San Siro to Sampdoria and Atalanta, there has been some improvement in Massimiliano Allegri’s team, especially during the last Serie A clash at Parma. The match may have ended as a draw, but Allegri finally shifted from a 4-3-1-2 system – perfect when possessing players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Clarence Seedorf and Mark van Bommel – to a more suitable 4-2-3-1, with Nigel de Jong and Massimo Ambrosini in front of the backline, and with three attacking players behind a lone striker. Bojan Krkic filled the role at Parma, while Giampaolo Pazzini has also done the job.

Stephan El Shaarawy is the new talent at Milan – born in 1992, like right-back Mattia De Sciglio, now established in the first team – and the “little Pharaoh” scored a double against Cagliari, a wonderful volley at Udinese and another important goal against Parma. He also added a “Lionel Messi-style” goal in the crucial Champions League victory over Zenit St. Petersburg in midweek.

This derby will be a big game for the Rossoneri and not just because it is a clash against rivals Inter, but also because sitting in mid-table, nine points behind Juventus and Napoli, they cannot afford to lose further ground. However, in truth this season is the beginning of a new era for Milan and a spot in Europe for next year looks more possible than a Scudetto challenge or Champions League win.

Looking For A Place Near The Top

Inter have had a mixed start to the campaign, doing well away, with victories in the Europa League in Split and Vaslui, and at Pescara, Turin and Verona, against Chievo in Serie A. However, the Nerazzurri have been poor at home, losing against Hadjuk Split and scraping draws against FC Vaslui and Rubin Kazan, while losing Serie A games to Siena and Roma. Last Sunday Inter enjoyed their first, and very convincing, victory at home, beating Fiorentina 2-1. Now they approach the derby in good heart.

Coach Andrea Stramaccioni moved from a 4-3-2-1 system to a 3-4-2-1 or 3-5-2, and has opted to play with a defensive line of three. Both Diego Milito and Antonio Cassano were in fine form against La Viola and despite losing Wesley Sneijder to injury in the match against Chievo, new Argentine arrival Rodrigo Palacio now looks ready to play alongside Milito or behind a loan striker and alongside Philippe Coutinho or Cassano.

This will be seen as an important pointer for Inter, as if they can win the derby, they may believe they are the third force in Serie A behind Juventus and Napoli.

Recent form

AC Milan:
AC Milan 2-0 Cagliari (26/09; Serie A)
Parma 1-1 AC Milan (29/09; Serie A)
Zenit St. Petersburg 2-3 AC Milan (03/10; Champions League)


Chievo 0-2 Inter (26/09; Serie A)
Inter 2-1 Fiorentina (30/09; Serie A)
Neftchi Baku 1-3 Inter (04/10; Europa League)

Key absences

AC Milan: Alexandre Pato

Inter: Wesley Snejider; Christian Chivu

Players to watch

AC Milan – Stephan El Shaarawy: The “Pharaoh” is the new phenomenon in Italian football. Born in Savona, in Liguria, to an Egyptian father and an Italian mother, he played for Genoa and Padova before joining the Rossoneri. Ibrahimovic did not cut a happy figure when he played alongside El Shaarawy, but this season, without the Swede, El Shaarawy is freer, more confident and importantly scoring goals.

Inter – Diego Milito: For Inter, Milito is the “derby man”. He scored in both derbies in the 2009/10 season, and last year bagged the decisive goal in the first match and a hat-trick in the return, when Inter won 4-2 at home. Milito has started this season quite slowly, but this is not unusual for the Argentine forward, who saves his best for facing Milan.

Match Prediction

Both teams need a victory, but at the same time will be conscious of losing another game. Milan scored a vital win in midweek against Zenit and with a 4-2-3-1 are looking an improved side. Inter have won their last two Serie A matches with a three-man backline and want to continue to close the gap to the top of the league. A draw, which has not happened since the autumn of 2004, is more than possible. AC Milan 1-1 Inter.

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