Inter won four out of five derbies in three different competitions last season – Serie A, the Supercoppa and the Champions League – leaving AC Milan with the desire for revenge.
La Gazzetta dello Sport write how the introspection that followed those four defeats (in which they failed to score a single goal) led to positive results. Now, Stefano Pioli has Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tijjani Reijnders, Christian Pulisic and a lot of new ideas.
The feeling is that in last season’s derbies, Inter’s victories began when looking at the starting line-ups in the tunnel. Edin Dzeko looked down on Brahim Diaz and Denzel Dumfries compared his muscles with those of Alexis Saelemaekers.
Even before competing on a tactical and technical level, Milan were suffering from Inter’s superior size and more robust athletic structure. The market has healed this too.
Looking back to the UCL semi-final first leg where Inter scored twice inside 11 minutes, Stefano Pioli’s starting eleven weighed a total of 846 kg. The one announced tomorrow should be 882kg.
The mercato has added about 40kg to the Diavolo’s power and half a metre in height. The starting Milan XI of the first semi-final measured 20.11m, tomorrow’s is expected to be 20.51m. Inter got smaller between the posts: Sommer is 7cm smaller and 14kg lighter than Onana.
Tomorrow under the San Siro tunnel, Milan will be heavier and taller than Inter: this is the real thing that Pioli will try to exasperate tactically, with liquid positions in the middle of the pitch.
He didn’t have such a quality player like Pulisic on the right before. The American will attract attention and free Leao on the left who decided with a brace the only derby won by the Devil in 2022-23.
A Loftus-Cheek-Krunic-Reijnders midfield will be more unlikely to be overwhelmed by the Nerazzurri waves as happened in Riyadh, when Messias, Bennacer and Diaz were cut open at will.
Everything that Inzaghi learned to win the previous derbies will be of little use tomorrow, because there will be a completely different Milan on the pitch.
Inter, the runners-up of Europe, had much less need to change. Among the new starters there are only Sommer and Thuram, but given what he has stored on the bench, Inzaghi also has a stronger squad than before.
He lost Dzeko and Lukaku, but discovered a growing Thuram, who knows how to attack in behind like Romelu and assist his team-mates like Dzeko.
For the struggling Rossoneri defence (without Tomori and Kalulu) it will not be easy to keep him quiet and also pay maximum attention to Lautaro.
Pioli’s midfield three are inclined to suffer from Inzaghi’s wing-backs. If a change of play triggers the run of Dumfries and Dimarco – both in great form – the Devil will have to be good at sliding over to cover.
Thanks to the market (Cuadrado, Carlos Augusto) Inzaghi will be able to fuel the attack on the wing for 90 minutes with a quality he didn’t have before.
Then looking at those between the lines, when the legs begin to get heavy, the freshness and attacking ferocity of Frattesi will be huge.
The moral? The market has strengthened and enriched both Milan and Inter with new weapons and a derby like never before awaits us.