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The first Milan derby of the season kicks off Sunday evening. Will we be in for any surprises?
The first Derby della Madonnina kicks off on Sunday evening, but is either Milan side really ready to face their hated rivals?
Inter Milan, the nominal hosts, have the advantage going into the match. Currently third in the table, the nerazzurri would be perfect if not for a little 3-1 slip-up against AS Roma. They're also nearly unbeaten in the Europa League (they lost to Hajduk Split, but still won over both legs) where they dominated Azerbaijani side Neftchi on Thursday. It seems that, under Andrea Stramaccioni, Inter have finally found the rhythm they'd misplaced over the past two seasons.
But as Inter's fortunes rise, they fall over at AC Milan. Drained of resources, the side is left unable to stop the bleeding. Milan have just seven points and sit eleventh, with two wins thus far, to Bologna and Cagliari. Yes, Serie A might be only six matches in, and yes, the rossoneri still have time to dress the wound. But not even Stephan El Shaarawy is that big of a band-aid.
As far as history goes, Inter have the slight edge in the derby, having won 66 times to Milan's 60, while the match has ended in a draw 52 times. There's no real reason to think the tides will turn on Sunday. Although many seem to believe that Milan's 3-2 victory over Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League on Wednesday is a signal of their renaissance, that's putting far too much weight on a match in which Tomáš Hubočan put the ball in the back of his own net. The match still showed signs of Milan's typical performance this season: poor defending and lack of options.
Sure, there are also signs that the oxygen mask is in place and blood is flowing freely. El-Shaarway is playing fantastically, Massimiliano Allegri is switching things up tactically, and Christian Abbiati is showing off some acrobatic maneuvers in goal. But with just one little slip, of which Milan are fully capable, can give Inter the lead. Despite former Milan forward Antonio Cassano's great form, the nerazzurri are not overly reliant upon the player. Diego Milito's already got three goals, but, more importantly, the new-look three-man defence will likely be able to shut down their rivals.
But whether Inter remain solid or Milan manage to surprise, one thing is nearly certain: this derby will be intriguing.
Kickoff is at 8:45 p.m. local time, 2:45 p.m. ET from the San Siro in Milan.