Over the last few years in the Derby Della Madonnina, one of the Milan clubs have always been in dire straits, while the other usually thrives. Under Walter Mazzarri, Inter have enjoyed a much stronger season compared to the previous with Andrea Stramaccioni at the helm. The Nerazzurri were firmly alive in the race for the top three and were on better form than their arch rivals.
However, after starting off the season with four wins, two draws, and just one defeat, Inter had won just four of their next ten matches. The positive is that they had picked up just one loss in that run. On the other hand, the five draws worried a lot of the supporters.
The 3-3 draws to Parma and Torino have been symbolic of their season. There’s lots of potential in attack, but the team is average at the back. There have been moments when the former dried up, like the 1-1 results against Atalanta and Bologna, but for the most part, Inter have been an entertaining club to watch for neutrals.
Only Roma (39) have more goals scored than Inter (37) heading into the winter break. The defence is sixth in Serie A. The 21 allowed is the fourth lowest total, though.
Still, without Samir Handanovic, the back line would be in even more trouble. Heck, Inter may not be fifth in the table without his heroics.
AC Milan have more problems than just an occasional leaky defence. Their defensive situation is far worse than their rivals. In fact, every aspect of the club is significantly weaker than the Nerazzurri.
Silvio Berlusconi, his daughter (Barbara), and Adriano Galliani are fighting over who has the most power at Milan, which is clearly affecting the squad on the pitch. They had just four wins entering the derby. Only Bologna, Sassuolo, Livorno, and Catania, the bottom four in the table, have fewer.
Massimiliano Allegri’s boys hadn’t defeated the black and blue in over 18 months. April 2011 was the last time the Rossoneri won the city derby, apart from the Suppercoppa prior to the 2011/12 campaign.
The last time AC Milan failed to win the Derby Della Madonnina five straight times was in 1999, so it was a huge match in many ways for them.
Inter, meanwhile, would stay within striking distance of Napoli and Fiorentina, two of their direct threats for a spot in the 2014/15 Champions League.
In a frantic opening few moments it was the Nerazzurri who had the first opportunity. Rodrigo Palacio fired a shot from distance but Christian Abbiati made a routine save to preserve the 0-0 score line.
Moments later the ball was up the other end as Riccardo Saponara, who made his first start for Milan, beat two men before playing in Kaka, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner. Mario Balotelli was next to get in on the act as a Mattia De Sciglio cross found its way to the forward, but he couldn’t keep his volley down and it went way over the bar.
Then a minute later, a Kaka shot was spilled by Samir Handanovic, almost into the path of Balotelli but Hugo Campagnaro was there to blast the ball to safety. Things improved for the Nerazzurri as the half wore on. Fredy Guarin going close with a looping shot from 25 yards, before Yuto Nagatomo had a header which was also off target.
Not long after Handanovic flapped at a corner and missed the ball completely, though there were no Rossoneri players following up at the back post. As the first half drew to an end Palacio had, what seemed to be a clear penalty turned down by the referee. Cristian Zapata looked to have tripped the Argentinian but his appeal fell on deaf ears.
Then in the final chance of the half, an Esteban Cambiasso header from a Saphir Taider free kick went inches wide. Inter started the second period much the better with Jonathan firing straight at Abbiati, while Campagnaro caused panic in the Milan area when his header was blocked by Zapata, but he managed to blast it clear.
Balotelli then forced an excellent save out of Handanovic as he cut in from the left and tried to curl an effort into the far corner. “Super Mario” was up again as he tried a flicked volley but he directed it off target.
Again involved, Balotelli chested a ball into the path of Campagnaro and the defender almost put it into his own net, but thankfully for the Nerazzurri he poked wide. As the match drifted into a lull, Nagatomo had a shot easily saved by Abbiati, while at the other end Balotelli floated a free kick past the left hand post.
Palacio then had two fantastic chances to put his side ahead. First he turned Daniele Bonera but his shot was pushed wide by Abbiati, then as Guarin played the ball back across goal, he couldn’t get enough power on his effort and the Rossoneri goalkeeper gathered on the line.
The game opened up in the final ten minutes as both sets of players began to tire, and Palacio got a deserved goal with five minutes to play. As the ball was played across goal by Guarin, the Argentinian got in front of Zapata cheekily back-heeled into the far left corner past a helpless Abbiati.
Milan went all out to find an equaliser and tempers flared with Muntari being sent off in time added on after being displeased with a challenge from Kuzmanovic.
Watch the highlights here:
Other talking points:
- Lazio fell 4-1 to Hellas Verona, thanks in large part to Luca Toni’s brace. Hellas remain in the hunt for a European spot, but the major news to come out of that match surrounded Biancocelesti manager Vladimir Petkovic. It was announced that he was leaving the club and would take over as Switzerland coach in July. Edy Reja is linked with a return to his former team. Other candidates include Marcelo Bielsa and Andre Villas Boas.
- Roma earned their first win since Francesco Totti’s return, crushing Catania 4-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. They remain five points behind Juventus for first place.
- Juventus stayed ahead of Roma by defeating Atalanta 4-1 in Bergamo. Juve’s clean sheet streak ended at 745 minutes, which is Gianluigi Buffon’s longest run without conceding a goal in his career.
- Napoli dropped points yet again, drawing Cagliari 1-1 on Saturday. The Partenopei are now just three points ahead of fourth place Fiorentina.
- Fiorentina crept closer to Napoli by narrowly beating Sassuolo 1-0. Giuseppe Rossi struck late to clinch all three points, the Italian international is now Serie A’s leading scorer with 14 goals heading into the New Year.
Other results: Livorno 1-2 Udinese; Bologna 1-0 Genoa; Sampdoria 1-1 Parma; Torino 4-1 Chievo