This weekend we have some massive fixtures, marquee matches (!) if you will, across Europe which may inflict some fairly early and significant psychological damage on title chasers.
In Italy, we have my favorite game of them all, the Milan Derby!!! AC Milan are designated as the home team in this fixture so expect the Curva Sud to be decked out with flags and a probable massive controversial banner which may either slag off their cross town rivals, have a go at owner and club president Silvio Berlusconi, or after last night’s win against Zenit St Petersburg, get behind the current crop of players. Young gun ‘Il Farone’ (the Pharaoh), El Shaarawy became Milan’s youngest scorer ever in the Champions League and feels that the win last night has given the team morale and confidence (in Italian so use google chrome or translate). Alexandre Pato will not be playing this Sunday night so as to avoid a relapse, however, with Il Farone in good form, Pazzini starting to gel in the team and Emanuelson also gaining plenty of first team experience, perhaps the Rossinerri’s season has turned a corner.
Inter this evening have notched up a comprehensive victory in Azerbaijan with a 3-1 win against Neftchi Baku. Their manager, Andrea Stranmaccioni, has brought a certain kind of calm to this Inter team after the chaos they have faced over the past two seasons in the post-Mourinho era. They lie third in Serie A and must be feeling now would be a great time to nip the progress and growing morale of the their rivals in the bud on Sunday night. A player to look out for at Inter will be the Portuguese Coutinho. Of Coutinho, Strama noted (again, in Italian):
‘On his potential I never had any doubts or even on the other four under 21 who took to the field: you just have the courage to let them play and we do, thanks to ‘good work in the youth sector. probably from when we play back to 3, this was the best performance‘
As always, expect no quarter asked or given by either team to their opponents. For Milan to win it means that they can solidify a turn around to such an awful start to their season and may be as high as fifth come Sunday evening. Inter on the other hand will not be able to gain another place on title rivals Juventus or Napoli, but they will of course be able to keep the pressure on the early runners and gain a head of steam. There is some trouble with the sale of tickets in Milan for this fixture, one that is normally quite easily sold out, however I hope that there is a full house at the San Siro and we have a great, memorable game like many that have preceded before.
My Prediction: AC Milan 1-2 Internazionale