by LIAM RICHNER
In every country, every league, there are fierce and hostile derby days. Whether it’s El Clasico, Der Klassiker or the north London derby, there is a toxic feeling in the air. This weekend will see another one of those days, as AC and Inter meet in the first Milan derby of the season.
The Rossoneri are favourites ahead of what is being built up as the biggest Derby della Madonnina for years.
It’s been a while since the red and black side of Milan have found themselves above their opponents in the league.
It truly has been a season to forget so far for Inter.
The Nerazzurri are ninth, and have already replaced their manager. Stefano Pioli was the man chosen to replace Frank de Boer. He needs to restore confidence and belief in a dressing room that seems to be lacking leadership.
The former Lazio coach knows a good result against their fierce rivals could spark some much needed reaction from the Inter fans. One positive is that he has a good record against Milan coach Vincenzo Montella: five wins and a draw in nine meetings.
Despite the torrid start to the campaign that Inter have endured, one positive is the form of club captain Mauro Icardi.
The Argentine forward has been involved in 81% of the Nerazzurri’s goals this season, netting ten himself.
Milan in contrast are third, five points off leaders Juventus.
Montella’s young team are learning after each game, and getting stronger for it. The likes of Manuel Locatelli and Gianluigi Donnarumma have taken to the Italian top flight by storm- both are still teenagers.
There are question marks about whether Colombian frontman Carlos Bacca will start up top. He hasn’t found the net in Serie A since October 2nd, and only returned from International duty on Thursday.
Milan have only won two of the last eleven derby matches, but if they play like they did against Juventus a few weeks back, the city of Milan will be red and black come Sunday night.
The other big match this weekend comes from the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, where red-hot Atalanta host title chasing Roma.
Gian Piero Gasperini has received a lot of praise for his work at Atalanta. The team are fifth in the league, having beaten Napoli and Inter already at the Atleti Azzurri this campaign.
Andrea Conti has played an important role in La Dea’s surprise run of form, but the defender is suspended for the visit of Luciano Spalletti’s Roma.
Diego Perotti, Edin Dzeko and Mohammed Salah have become the Messi/Neymar/Suarez of Italian football, with a scary balance of speed, power and skill to leave any defence in knots.
The Giallorossi are the leagues top scorers but they haven’t beaten Atalanta since 2014, and could struggle to break down a resilient defence containing Mattia Caldara, Andrea Masiello and Ervin Zukanovic.
Chievo v Cagliari
Juventus v Pescara
Udinese v Napoli
Sampdoria v Sassuolo
Lazio v Genoa
Crotone v Torino
Bologna v Palermo
Empoli v Fiorentina