Inter and AC Milan will meet for the first time in 2023-24 with both sides looking to maintain their 100% start to the new campaign.
Both Milanese teams have won each of their opening three games in Serie A, putting them ahead of the rest as the top two teams in the league as the only ones with perfect records, but that has to end for someone.
The outcome of the game will be heavily influenced by a few key battles, starting with the most obvious between Lautaro Martínez and Simon Kjaer. The Dane is filling in due to Tomori and Kalulu being out, and he has to try stop a player who has scored eight goals against Milan in all competitions and netted three times last season. Easier said than done.
Inter have won the last four derbies and part of the reason they were so dominant was because they were able to generate numerical superiority. The runs of Federico Dimarco – particularly in the Supercoppa and Champions League games – caused real issues for Davide Calabria who will have to keep tabs on him and hope for support from midfield.
Speaking of the midfield, there will be a fascinating battle between Tijjani Reijnders and Nicolo Barella. The latter is Inter’s metronome: when he ticks the team do too, but the same can be said for Reijnders who must balance trying to make runs and create with keeping for Italian quiet given he likes to operate in the same way.
Moving to Milan’s attack, it will be intriguing to see how Olivier Giroud is given his ankle sprain on international duty. The 36-year-old will jostle with a 35-year-old opponent in Francesco Acerbi, someone who kept him quiet in the games in 2023 so far, with the Frenchman aiming to add to his tally of four goals.
Finally, we move to the left wing where Matteo Darmian will once again square off against Rafael Leao. It should be a mismatch on paper but the Italian has done well to limit Leao’s influence in recent games, and that is why a varied attacking threat with Pulisic and the midfielders is needed to create space. If the Portuguese can get one-on-one enough, he will cause chaos.
Other duels worth mentioning are the renewed hostilities between Denzel Dumfries and Theo Hernandez down Inter’s right, as well as Rade Krunic who must shadow Henrikh Mkhitaryan and/or another surging midfielder with help from Reijnders/RLC.