AC Milan will welcome cross town rivals Inter to the San Siro for the second Derby della Madonnina of the 2015/2016 Serie A season this Sunday. It will also be another interesting match-up between old friends Siniša Mihajlović and Roberto Mancini, but any comradeship between the Serb and the Italian will be put aside for 90 minutes as the Rossoneri and the Nerazzurri will both be gunning for all three points in this fixture.
It has not been the easiest of seasons for Mihajlović, who has been under constant pressure from the start of his tenure. This past summer, Milan opted to splash the cash to the tune of nearly €90 million in their quest to become a force to be reckoned with again, with Silvio Berlusconi setting the unrealistic task of challenging for the Scudetto this season. In all honesty, that idea was always going to be a pipe dream as the Diavolo are still a long way from making a return to the Champions League, let alone win their first league title since 2011, but that did not prevent the ever-vocal president from taking jabs at his manager in the press.
Mancini, on the other hand, has been allowed to do his work in peace without much interference from Inter president Erick Thohir – perhaps due to the Indonesian doing much of his management remotely – but nonetheless will be feeling some pressure on his shoulders. After a bright start that saw them top the table for much of the opening half of the season, the Nerazzurri have stumbled and after seeing Napoli crowned winter champions – a title that is only in name only, but has an uncanny knack of predicting who will win the Scudetto in May – they continued to struggle and have fallen down the table into fourth.
Whilst there are many more games left to play, their confidence have taken a beating after being thrashed 3-0 in the Coppa Italia semi-finals first leg by Juventus and held to a surprise 1-1 draw with Serie A debutants in last weekend’s fixture. In fact, the Nerazzurri have not won a match since beating Empoli 1-0 and have only managed to score three goals since then (not including an own-goal by Atalanta in another 1-1 stalemate).
Milan, meanwhile will not be feeling much more confident, either. They might have won their Coppa Italia tie, but it took a penalty from Mario Balotelli to settle things against Alessandria, and a 1-0 result versus a third-tier side certainly won’t have impressed fans one bit. They might hold the advantage after the first 90 minutes, but should this season’s Cinderella story manage to score, all hell will surely break loose. In their last league fixture, they threw away two vital points after allowing Empoli to come from behind twice to draw 2-2.
Eight points divide the two sides, but both Milan and Inter will have most on their minds than just beating their city rivals in a derby clash. For the Rossoneri, they will be eager to get back to winning ways and hopefully closing the gap on Roma, who have had their own woes this season. And for the Nerazzurri, their objective will simply to stop the downward trend as they desperately need to re-gain their footing in the Scudetto race.
The last Derby della Madonnina was settled in favor of Inter, who will be eager to complete a double over their city rivals this season. Who will emerge victorious this time around? Or will we witness a draw?
Neutrals – and quite a few Fiorentina and Roma fans – will not have any issue with a stalemate, but fans of both Milan and Inter will be in full force behind their teams, hoping to will them to victory in one of the oldest derbies in the world.
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