Each and every season, both AC Milan and Inter Milan fans are treated to at least two editions of the Derby della Madonnina. Although the clash between the Rossoneri and the Nerazzurri has lost some of its luster in recent times due to the departure of some big-name players, for the most devoted supporter, it is all about bragging rights, even more so these days given that the Scudetto has been comfortably remaining in Turin for the last four seasons.
The most recent edition of Serie A was not one that neither Milan nor Inter followers will remember too fondly; albeit it was somewhat kinder to the Nerazzurri, who managed to finish in eighth versus the tenth-placed spot earned by the Rossoneri. Both teams will be out of Europe this season and thus will have to contend with just the league and the Coppa Italia as any opportunity to clinch some silverware as they seek to again rebuild and hopefully earn a spot among the top three or four next May.
So far, their pre-season friendlies have produced mixed results. Although Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men won their first two games, there are two caveats. Firstly, Milan were playing against teams like Alcione and Legnano, both of whom are currently in the Eccellenza (Italy’s fifth division). Secondly, and more disconcerting for supporters is the fact that in both games, the Diavolo actually fell behind before overpowering their opponents to win by a score-line of 5-1 each time. Now, whilst this is not during the regular season, it appears that the Serbian tactician has quite a lot of work to do to sort out Milan’s notorious defensive frailties that have seen them be unable to close out a match.
So, not surprisingly, they were really exposed against more serious competition, namely Lyon, in which Andrea Poli’s equalizing goal was cancelled out just 180 seconds later after yet another defensive lapse gifted Alexandre Lacazette the chance to snatch a win for last season’s Ligue 1 runners up.
As for Roberto Mancini’s side, Inter have shown some positives, but they, too, have quite a lot of improvement if they wish to seriously make a push for a top three spot. Against Stuttgarter Kickers, they looked firmly in control after racing into a seemingly comfortable 4-0 lead in the first half. However, in the second, lapses in concentration and overall lax play nearly allowed their third-division German opponents to pull off what would have been an impressive result by letting them score three times in the last third of the match.
With Serie A newboys Carpi, they appeared more steady on their feet, but nonetheless allowed them to equalize before eventually powering past them 4-2. Yet, against Bayern Munich, the Nerazzurri put on a solid performance. Although they were unable to score against die Roten, they pushed the Bundesliga champions hard and it took a late goal from Mario Gotze to finally put the tie to rest.
As the two familiar foes prepare for their first International Champions Cup clash, there will be the definite feel of a Milan Derby bubbling in the background. Already, Inter have beaten Milan in terms of the transfer market, namely the acquisition of Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia after the young French international looked set to sign for the Diavolo. The 22-year-old will be eager to show his new fans that their team made the right choice in signing him, and he will have the perfect opportunity to do so in his first taste of a Derby della Madonnina on Saturday.
Another new face looking forward to featuring will certainly be Carlos Bacca. Although the 28-year-old who won the Europa League with Sevilla this past May, he is untested in Italy and it will be yet to be seen if the Colombian, who enjoyed a fruitful term in Spain can continue in the same rich of form in Serie A. Given the poor output of strikers like Giampaolo Pazzini and Mattia Destro last season, Rossoneri followers will hope that the South American ace will fill the void for a top-class centre forward that they have been missing since the departure of Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2012. And what better way for a new signing to earn his place his fans’ hearts by helping his team to beat their bitter cross-town rivals?
So, whilst this game will be billed as a routine International Champions Cup clash – a result that will have no bearing on the team’s rankings during the actual season – for Milan and Inter fans, it will represent something more. After being unable to get the upper hand over one another last season, this will be the first time the two teams have met in China since the Supercoppa Italiana back in 2011, which finished as a 2-1 win in favor of the Diavolo.
Interestingly, Mihajlovic and Mancini are old friends, having featured together at Sampdoria, Lazio, and then again at Inter as player and coach respectively. As such, it will not be the first time the two have shared the pitch, but it will be the first time during what should be an interesting clash from start to finish.