AC Milan v Inter Milan, Serie A, August 29, 2009
Only two weeks into the Serie A season and Milan and Inter face off in the derby “della Madonnina”, always one of the most exciting matches in Italian football, if not in the whole world.
Inter struggled in their opening match of the campaign and could only secure a home draw against newly promoted Bari, making this fixture against their local rivals into a crunch clash for the Scudetto holders.
Jose Mourinho will no doubt have been mulling over his tactics this week after switching between the 4-4-2 formation and a 4-3-3 three times in last Sundayâ€™s opener. Following the game the â€œSpecial Oneâ€ admitted his side were to blame: â€œwe have no alibis, we were poor.â€
It seems likely that Mourinho will play a 4-3-3 formation in this derby, especially after he substituted Sulley Muntari (7/2 to score) in just the 30th minute of the match, claiming he was tired from fasting due to Ramadan. The entrance of Super Mario Balotelli (7/1 to score last) did add extra pace and power to the Inter attack and they did look much more of a threat with the youngster on the field.
Mourinho will likely continue with the strike force of Diego Milito (7/4 to score) and Samuel Etoâ€™o (5/1 to score first) up front and the two should bang in a hatful of goals this season. Dejan Stankovic will probably play in midfield with Esteban Cambiasso out injured and there could even be a fiery debut for new signing Wesley Sneijder who has finally completed his move from Real Madrid.
Following a poor pre-season, AC Milan are buoyant after their 2-1 win at Siena last Saturday night with Ronaldinho (2/1 to score) running the show, evoking memories of his glory days and Alexandre Pato (6/4 to score) scoring a brace.
During a host of defeats in the lead up to the campaign, new coach Leonardo repeatedly said his new-look Rossoneri, shorn of Kaka, needed time to adjust to a new 4-3-3 formation as to well as to a new style of play.
Reports in the Italian press suggest Dutch hitman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (15/8 to score) will make his Serie A debut against Inter to complete a potentially fearsome front three alongside Brazilians Ronaldinho and Pato.
Clarence Seedorf may also come in for Mathieu Flamini, but besides those changes, Leonardo is expected to continue with the same line-up that won their opening game.
For all the talk of the huge amount of attacking talent on the pitch, two other Brazilians may decide the destiny of this derby. Lucio appeared to be a good signing for Inter whilst Thiago Silva has been impressive for the Rossoneri in recent weeks. Whichever side defends better could be key to the outcome.
101gg predicts: AC Milan 2 â€“ Inter Milan 3 (25/1)
Full match odds here.