Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
’s live coverage of the Serie A clash between Inter Milan
and AC Milan
at the San Siro. It is a Milan derby – the Derby della Madonnina – and you can follow all the action live as it happens with our minute-by-minute text commentary on this page.
This is without doubt one of the biggest games in the world and one of the biggest rivalries in European football. Both Inter and Milan are considered giants of Italian and European football and there is no love lost between the two clubs.
Both Inter and Milan have glorious histories but heading into this match the two clubs find themselves struggling for points. Inter are currently sixth in the standings with 28 points from 16 matches, while the Rossoneri are way back in 13th having picked up only 19 points.
Both the Milanese giants are going through a ‘regeneration phase’. Under Mazzarri, who left Napoli to move to Inter in the summer, the Nerazzurri are trying to build a team around young, talented players for the future. For Inter, a place in the top three is their main objective this season.
As for Milan, they have been going on the slide down the hill since the summer of 2012. A number of players left the club then, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, and this season the Rossoneri have really struggled. Coach Massimiliano Allegri
has come under pressure and there is still the threat of the sack.
The teamsheet has now been released and I will type in the names shortly. But I can tell you now for sure that 40-year-old Javier Zanetti
starts for Inter in midfield.
INTER MILAN XI:
Handanovic; Campagnaro, Rolando
, Juan Jesus
, Taider, Cambiasso, Zanetti, Nagatomo; Guarin; Palacio
Subs: Carrizo, Castellazzi, Ranocchia, Andreolli, Samuel, Pereira, Kovacic, Mudingayi, Icardi, Belfodil, Kuzmanovic, Wallace
AC MILAN XI:
Abbiati; De Sciglio, Bonera, Zapata, Constant; Poli, De Jong, Muntari; Saponara, Kaka
Subs: Gabriel, Coppola, Zaccardo, Mexes, Emanuelson, Cristante, Nocerino, Pazzini, Matri
So let’s analyse now how the two teams are going to lineup and how they might play tonight, at least at the start...
Inter are without the suspended Ricky Alvarez and the injured duo of Diego Milito and Cristian Chivu. This means that veteran and evergreen Argentine Javier Zanetti
will be deployed in midfield along with Saphir Taider
will play a supporting role to main striker Rodrigo Palacio
for the Nerazzurri, despite speculation suggesting that the Colombian could leave for Chelsea in January. In defence Andrea Ranocchia
has been relegated to the bench by coach Mazzarri, who has preferred to stick with Rolando
in the back three.
Milan are a much depleted side and their main miss will be a certain Riccardo Montolivo, who is suspended. Robinho, Stephan El Shaarawy, Matias Silvestre, Ignazio Abate, Marco Amelia and Valter Birsa are sidelined with injuries.
This means that for tonight’s ‘visitors’, Milan will have for Inter star Mario Balotelli
as their centre-forward with Kaka
playing just behind him. The Brazilian playmaker is looking for his 100th goal for the Rossoneri and will have Saponara alongside him in a Christmas tree formation. This is the 22-year-old’s first competitive start for Milan.
, who played for Inter on loan from Sampdoria in the 2011-12 season, comes in for Montolivo in midfield, while Kevin Constant
replaces Urby Emanuelson. Daniele Bonera
is preferred to Philippe Mexes
at centre-back by Allegri.
Well, both teams will be deploying a very attacking formation and will be going for the kill. Both Inter and Milan are desperate for points and have to win to keep their top-three chances alive. This is also the final match of the Serie A before the Christmas break, so the players will be keen to go into the festive period on a high.
The build-up to the clash tonight has not been without its fair share of controversy. The Inter ultras were not going to be allowed into the Curva Nord until Friday when the club won an appeal to have the ban suspended. Meanwhile, this morning authorities banned Milan ultras from bringing their choreography into the Curva Sud, probably thinking that it could spell more trouble. It has also been reported that Inter fans will not have any choreography for the match either – they have taken this decision voluntarily.
Inter Milan recently changed their owners as president Erick Thohir took over from Massimo Moratti in November. He has especially flowed from Indonesia for this match, which will also be Walter Mazzarri’s first Milan derby. The hosts have not won in Serie A since November 9 and have collected three points from as many draws.
On the other hand, Milan have recovered from their torrid start to the campaign somewhat and have put together a run of five matches without a defeat in Serie A. However, Allegri’s players have won just one of their last eight league games and only four all season – a terribly bad record given the aspirations that one of Italy’s biggest clubs have.
Kickoff is around 20 minutes away at the San Siro. The stadium is already full as both sets of fans will be looking to go home with smiles on their faces. Christmas is coming up and everyone wants to be happy.
Fifteen minutes to kickoff. The stadium is packed and the players are warming up on the pitch. This is the final game in Serie A this year and what a way to round off things!
Both Allegri and Mazzarri spoke to journalists ahead of the clash and here is some of their quotes:
: "I think Inter are having a great season. Mazzarri's strength is his organisation, both attacking and defending. It's going to be a difficult game against an angry, experienced and fired up side, so we must do well. I've never had any rows with Mazzarri. It can happen to exchange a few jokey comments before a big game. Tomorrow we'll salute each other because it's the normal thing to do and I hope it will be a wonderful match. He's laying the foundations for a significant future at Inter."
: "Of course, the Milan Derby has a special fascination to it and as a coach I try not to think about it until I step on to the field. At that moment I will realise what the Milan derby really is. I must focus on helping the team play against Milan so the players can be ready to approach this game. I am more concerned with seeing my players adopt my style of football – one that is pleasing to watch, attacking and moving ball to feet. Rationally, the derby is worth three points, but we are close to the fans and realise the difference. Certain games can also help with self-confidence or affect you psychologically. It means more to the supporters. A victory would be a huge confidence boost for the rest of the season - that is certain. If it goes wrong, I'll have to work to turn over a new leaf and focus on the next games."
Meanwhile, Kaka has claimed that he is determined to score his 100th goal for Milan against Inter tonight: "Scoring against Inter is always special. I remember that I netted on a Gennaro Gattuso cross from the left, a real rarity. It is a difficult moment for both clubs, but to win and score my 100th Milan goal would be a wonderful Christmas present.”
In my opinion, Kaka will be the key man for Milan tonight. His burst of space and link-up play will be crucial in unlocking the Inter defence. The Brazilian has scored five times for Inter, while his teammate Balotelli has not scored even once.
Kickoff is just moments away now as the two sets of players make their way onto the pitch for pre-match formalities...
KICKOFF Inter get the Milan derby underway following the end of pre-match formalities. This is the final Serie A fixture of 2013 and it promises to be an explosive one – the Derby della Madonnina.
The match has already kicked into gear as Sulley Muntari
brings down Fredy Guarin
for what is the first foul committed in this contest. After just 57 seconds!
It has been a very bright to the match at the San Siro, with Inter hogging most of the possession so far. It will be interesting to see how they cope without the unpredictability of Ricky Alvarez.
Good attacking move from Inter that eventually ends with the ball strolling into the hands of Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati
. Yuto Nagatomo
instigates the move down the left with Guarin and Rodrigo Palacio all getting into the act.
CHANCE! The first meaningful shot of the match is taken by Palacio from way outside the Milan box. It is on target, but Abbiati makes an easy save. Milan then go on the counter-attack and earn a corner, but fail to make the most of it.
CHANCE! Balotelli goes so so close to scoring his first goal against Inter as he shoots on the turn from the edge of the area, only to see his effort go narrowly high of the crossbar.
Now Kaka almost gets lucky in scoring his 100th goal for Milan. The Brazilian playmaker dances into the Inter penalty box on the left and then takes a shot with his left foot that Samir Handanovic
unconvincingly keeps out. Balotelli rushes to tap in the rebound, but commits a foul in the process.
Milan have taken control of the game, at least for the moment. A cross is floated in from the right by Mattia De Sciglio
and it falls to Kaka, whose shot is blocked. Inter are being pushed back deep into their own penalty area. Could this be the spell in which the Rossoneri surge ahead in the Milan derby?
CHANCE! Snap effort from Guarin that almost catches Abbiati out of position. The Colombian’s effort goes narrowly wide but it did have the Milan goalkeeper stretching to his far right.
This has been a great match to watch so far, a brilliant Milan derby. Both sides have shown the hunger and the intensity to go forward, although the Rossoneri have shaded it so far. However, Inter have now begun to push forward and take the game to Milan.
Poor cross from Kevin Constant
, who does well to get his way round an Inter player on the left but his final ball is disappointing as it flies behind the goal.
There are no signs of the tempo slowing down from either side at the San Siro. It’s breathtaking so far and one suspects that the opening goal will make the contest even more interesting.
CHANCE! Sulley Muntari
takes a rather ambitious shot from over 30 yards that flies wide of the Inter goal and does not trouble Handanovic at all. The Milan midfielder should have actually passed the ball to Riccardo Saponara
, who was in a better position to shoot.
A little discussion between Esteban Cambiasso
and Andrea Poli
, who tugs back the Inter midfielder and then argues that he did nothing wrong.
Sensational cross from Saphir Taider
, who is afforded loads of time and space to float in a delivery across the face of the Milan goal. It goes all the way to the far post where Nagatomo connects with it with his head, but cannot keep it on target.
Balotelli squanders his chance to score his first goal against Inter with a free kick. His initial shot hits the wall and comes back to him, but he fails to make the most of his second bite at the cherry.
YELLOW CARD Mattia De Sciglio
is shown the first yellow card of the evening for cynically bringing down Guarin, who was rushing down the left-hand side in an effort to launch an Inter counter-attack.
Milan earn their second corner kick of the evening. Can they make it 1-0 from this set piece?
CHANCE! Poli squanders one of the best chances of the contest so far as he shoots high over the crossbar. Handanovic comes out to parry the ball away after it is floated from the corner, but he makes a meal of it and it falls to Poli. However, the midfielder fails to keep his first-time effort on target.
CHANCE! Muntari once again tries to shoot on target from outside the box and once again he fails to trouble Handanovic in any way.
Milan try to build a patient attack with Saponara, Poli and De Sciglio combining on the right, but the final cross is cleared away by the Inter defenders.
From what is transpiring on the pitch and the way the momentum is with Milan, Inter will be happy to get to half time with the score 0-0. Walter Mazzarri’s side are struggling to string three passes together to launch an attack and are severely missing the creativity of Ricky Alvarez.
Another Milan corner and another poor decision from Samir Handanovic
, who comes out of his line to punch the ball away but cannot get to it. Fortunately for him, the ball does not fall kindly to any Milan player.
Five minutes to half time and the score is locked at 0-0. Inter started the game positively but after the first 10 minutes they have really struggled to force themselves out of their own area of the pitch. Milan have had the better chances and, based on that, they should be at least 1-0 up at this point.
Inter appeal for a penalty but the referee is having none of it. Palacio goes down under a challenge from Christian Zapata
inside the Milan box while trying to collect a cross, but it is deemed as ‘no foul’ from the Rossoneri defender.
I have watched the replay of that challenge from Zapata on Palacio and it looked like a penalty to me. Having said that, I must admit that the referee does not have the luxury of watching replays like I do.
of Inter Milan is down on the pitch in deep agony following a challenge from Muntari. The medical team is treating him now and I believe that he will be up on his feet soon.
Two minutes of injury time have been added.
YELLOW CARD Kevin Constant is the second player this evening to be shown the yellow card for pulling down Guarin on the right. Free kick to Inter now...
CHANCE! Esteban Cambiasso
goes ever so close with his attempt after connecting with a perfectly floated free kick from Taider, but his effort goes narrowly wide.
HALF TIME: Inter Milan 0-0 AC Milan
It’s half time at the San Siro where Inter Milan and AC Milan have failed to break the deadlock. Massimiliano Allegri’s side have been the dominant team in the first 45 minutes but they failed to take the array of chances that they crafted.
However, Inter have shown signs that they can nick this contest and, indeed, the Nerazzurri could have gone 1-0 up on the stroke of half time had Esteban Cambiasso been able to keep his header from Saphir Taider’s free kick on target.
Let’s look at the first-half stats now...
Inter Milan have had one of their five shots on target, committed eight fouls and had just 44% of the possession. On the other hand, three of Milan’s 12 shots have been on target, they committed 10 fouls, had three corner kicks and 56% of the possession.
As things stand, Inter will head into the Christmas break placed fifth in Serie A with 29 points from 17 matches, while Milan will climb up to eighth with 20 points. However, Mazzarri’s side will be seven points behind third-placed Napoli and Milan will be 16 points off the Champions League slots.
The two sets of players are getting to come out of the tunnel and Milan appear to be readying a substitution. Urby Emanuelson will come on in place of – I think – Kevin Constant.
Emanuelson was warming up on the pitch during the half-time interval. He was not 100% fit to start, but Allegri wants him to have an impact in the second half.
SUBSTITUTION As I said, Kevin Constant is replaced by Urby Emanuelson.
KICKOFF Milan get the second half of the derby underway. It is 0-0 at the moment. Will we see a goal or indeed goals in the second 45 minutes?
CHANCE! Easy and straightforward save for Milan goalkeeper Abbiati as he collects a shot from Jonathan, who was teed up nicely by Palacio just inside the box.
Two corners in the space of a minute for Inter but they fail to exploit either. Very positive start to the second half from the hosts, though, who are exerting pressure on the Milan side.
Another good cross from De Sciglio from the right which Balotelli connects with his head, but the Italian striker cannot direct it towards goal. De Sciglio has put in some lovely cross from the right flank this evening.
CHANCE! Milan on the attack now as Balotelli gets a shot on target from the left side of the box, but it is kept out by nicely Samir Handanovic. Just like in the first half, the Rossoneri are beginning to step up their game after leaving themselves off guard in the opening minutes.
CHANCE! Super Mario goes agonisingly close and how! He tries to flick in a left-wing cross with a clever turn of his boot, but his effort goes just wide. Sensational skill from the Italian striker – pure genius!
SUBSTITUTION Inter make their first change of the evening. Playmaker Mateo Kovacic comes on for Saphir Taider.
Kovacic is one of the best young creative players in Europe, although he has yet to really make himself a household name in Milan. However, his quality and skills could just about be the difference in this contest between Inter and Milan.
YELLOW CARD Fredy Guarin is shown the yellow card for his foul on Saponara.
Half an hour remain in this match and the deadlock has yet to be broken. The first 15 minutes of the second half have been slightly shaded by Milan, but Inter have looked threatening on occasions.
YELLOW CARD Nigel de Jong
is shown the yellow card – the third Milan player to be cautioned this evening. Reason? He brought down Kovacic in midfield.
almost scores an own goal as a ball over the top hits his chest and then narrowly goes wide of Handanovic’s left-hand post for a corner. And what do Milan create from yet another set piece? Nothing!
Inter appear to be readying themselves for yet another change. It looks like Yuto Nagatomo
could be replaced.
YELLOW CARD Juan Jesus
is shown the yellow card now for bringing down Balotelli, becoming the second Inter player to be cautioned this evening.
SUBSTITUTION Javier Zanetti comes off for Inter and on his place arrives Zdravko Kuzmanovic.
Twenty minutes remain in the Derby della Madonnina and it is still 0-0. Will there be a late drama at the San Siro? This has not been the greatest of Milan derbies, but it has been full of intensity and has been played at a fast pace.
YELLOW CARD It’s 3-3 in terms of yellow cards as Rolando is cautioned for his high-footed challenge on Balotelli. Free kick to Milan.
CHANCE! Balotelli takes the free kick himself and fires towards goal, only to see his attempt go wide of the mark.
Good defensive work from Daniele Bonera
inside the Milan area as he turns away a left-wing cross from Nagatomo, who is looking more and more eager to rush down the left flank and whip in crosses. He is full of energy at the moment.
Milan will make a change soon, I believe. Alessandro Matri
is ready to come on.
SUBSTITUTION Matri indeed comes on and he replaces Saponara, who had a largely quiet and forgettable Milan derby.
Balotelli has never scored against his former club Inter Milan, could he break that duck tonight? Maybe, just maybe...
Intense pressure from Inter on the Milan defence with a number of their players getting involved, but it culminates with Kovacic blasting high over the crossbar from outside the box.
Rodrigo Palacio wastes the best chance of the game and Christian Abbiati
makes the best save of the contest! Nagatomo goes on a brilliant run down the left and then cuts inside to release Palacio, who turns around his marker and then takes a shot on goal that the Milan goalkeeper keeps out. However, the ball is still in play and then is poked back towards goal, but Abbiati claims it with a dive towards his left.
CHANCE! Sensational save from Abbiati again, this time he keeps out a curling effort from Zdravko Kuzmanovic.
SUBSTITUTION Esteban Cambiasso is replaced by Mauro Icardi, but not before he hands the captain’s armband to Yuto Nagatomo.
The pace of the Milan derby is electrifying at the moment and the momentum is all with Inter at the moment.
GOAL! Inter Milan 1-0 AC Milan (Rodrigo Palacio)
Rodrigo Palacio scores what could prove to be the winning goal in tonight’s Milan derby. Guarin whips in a low cross from the right that the Argentine forward slots home with a cheeky and magical backheel after shrugging off Zapata.
YELLOW CARD Balotelli goes into the referee’s books for protesting too much. He failed to stay on his pitch and that instigated the Inter counter-attack, which culminated in a goal; however, the Italian striker claims that he was fouled.
Andrea Poli goes off and on comes Giampaolo Pazzini
, a former Inter striker now on the books of Milan.
The Inter supporters are in delirium as their team are now 1-0 up. The Nerazzurri were under pressure for so long, but really stepped up a notch after the hour mark.
Four minutes of injury time have been added. Four short minutes for Milan to score he equaliser, four long minutes for Inter to stave off their rivals...
CHANCE! Palacio is on fire at the moment as he tries his luck with a shot from outside the Milan penalty box that goes over the crossbar. And tell you what – it was not too far over Abbiati’s goal.
RED CARD! Sulley Muntari, a former Inter player, has been sent off for an altercation with Zdravko Kuzmanovic! He actually barges into the Inter midfielder for no logical reason whatsoever!
CHANCE! Two chances in a minutes for Milan to equaliser as first De Jong fails to get his header from the free kick on target and then Balotelli cannot connect with a good delivery.
FULL TIME: Inter Milan 1-0 AC Milan
It’s all over at the San Siro where Inter Milan have defeated AC Milan 1-0 in the Derby della Madonnina. Rodrigo Palacio’s brilliantly conceived back-heel attempt four minutes from time is enough for the Nerazzurri to pick up maximum points in the Serie A encounter.
Milan were much the better side in the first 45 minutes and created a number of chances, but they failed to take them. Then in the opening 15 minutes of the second period, they had at least two good chances but from there on Inter took control of proceedings and came out in droves in the final 15 minutes.
The defeat leaves Milan in 13th place in the Serie A table at Christmas, with Massimiliano Allegri’s side having picked up only 19 points from 17 matches. The Italian tactician is under pressure now and he must fear the sack.
As for Inter, they leapfrog Hellas Verona into fifth place in the league standings, five points behind third-placed Napoli and with a genuine chance of challenging for a top-three finish in Serie A in the second half of the campaign.
Thank you very much for joining me here on Sports Mole and hope that you enjoyed our live coverage of the match. Have a good night, it’s goodbye from me for now.