Derby Della Madonnina (or the Milan Derby), is widely considered one of the major crosstown derbies in not just the Italian league, but the world. It is called “Derby Della Madonnina” in honour of one of the main sights in the city of Milan, the statue of the Virgin Mary on the top of the Duomo, which is often referred to as the “Madonnina”. The two have met 42 times prior to Sunday’s encounter, 18 of which went the way of AC Milan. They have shared the spoils 10 times whilst Inter have been victorious 14 times, the last of which was the reverse tie that they claimed 1-0. Argentine forward Diego Milito scored the match-winner in the 54th minute and even though the game featured only one goal, it had plenty of excitement including Inter’s goal in the opening minutes ruled out for offside.
There is no hosting and visiting side as the two share the San Siro, which only fuels their subsequent rivalry, so you can expect a crowd of two home teams urging their teams to play for them. Milan are comfortably in second-place behind Juventus by 3 points in the race for the Scudetto. One wonders where AC Milan would be if Antonio Cassano had been available all season. The talented playmaker opened the scoring against Siena last week, before twice setting up strike-partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his double in the 4-1 win. His last assist was a true moment of genius, as he spun past two defenders before laying it off for the Sweden international. In his first start since recovering from the effects of an emergency heart procedure last November, Cassano scored one goal and created two others, while Gattuso, making his third Serie A appearance since overcoming career-threatening eye problems, was his usual dynamic self in the Rossoneri midfield.
Inter’s hopes of qualifying for Champions League football were significantly boosted over the last week by midfield duo Sneijder and Guarin as they propelled Andrea Stramaccioni’s side to two straight wins. The Dutchman scored twice in the Nerazzurri’s 3-1 win at Udinese on Wednesday, his second goal a sublime touch to loft it over the goalkeeper. Meanwhile, the winter signing from Porto added energy and guile in the centre of the pitch, and grabbed fine assists at both the Friuli and San Siro in the win over Cesena. They are playing good football these days and will be confident of that, in a game where form will count for nothing, come Sunday.
Serie A has a reputation (perhaps justified) as a defensive league that produces boring football but that is almost never the case with the two Italian giants of Milan. Both have incentives to play for in the remaining season. Inter on the other hand, are going all in for fourth place to at least salvage a Champions League spot after their disappointing season. Nevertheless the two have not played out a draw in their last 18 meetings dating back to 2004 and I do believe that this is set to continue. AC Milan are the more complete side this season and will want to avenge the reverse fixture loss, especially if this is the most they can win this season. It should be them that take to La Madonnina as kings of the city.