GdS: The four zones of the pitch that will decide the derby between Inter and Milan

By Oliver Fisher -

Inter have won the last four derby matches against AC Milan, scoring seven goals in the process and not conceding either, but Stefano Pioli hopes things will change today.

Today’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) writes about the four decisive areas of the field. The rectangle between the midfield line and the Nerazzurri’s defence is the first, and it is where Pioli wants his players to continually operate.

Last season with the 4-2-3-1, the Milan boss raised Tonali or Bennacer alongside Diaz. In this 4-3-3 system he pushes Loftus-Cheek and Reijnders into the spaces between Giroud and the two wingers.

The two new signings have power and offensive technique to hurt. Pioli also wants the full-backs – who accelerate through the central areas – to end up in the aforementioned spaces. By crowding the rectangle, he will force Inter to choose: will the midfielders or the wing-backs be the ones to cover the extra attackers.

Getting defenders up field means opening spaces for Pulisic and Leao. An area of ​​great strategic value also for pressing, which is more physical and therefore more effective.

In Istanbul, Guardiola explained: “It’s difficult to go and catch Inter, because Onana dribbles very well.” Without Onana, Pioli expects to have an easier life.

Inter meanwhile will use their wing-backs, with Dumfries and Dimarco in good form. Inzaghi will focus hard on his arrows and will try to free them by taking advantage of the numerical superiority in the midfield.

An example: Calhanoglu and Mkhitaryan move on the left and drag Milan over, then Bastoni – who is a good distributor of the ball – passes to the opposite side and frees Dumfries’ run in open spaces.

Pioli knows well that the midfield three is exposed to Inzaghi’s wing-backs. To avoid risks, Milan will have to press hard on the side where ​​the ball is, so as not to allow easy switches of play and slide laterally with timing, to plug the holes when the move has started.

Leao, who scored two goals and got an assist in the last derby Milan won – 3-2 in September 2022 – will have the pressure taken off him a bit. Pulisic means that Milan no longer have a ‘tactical’ winger as they did with Saelemaekers and Messias, but instead a player with attacking threat and Chukwueze on the bench.

Inter will have to move defensive troops to stop the American and, in these maneuvers, Leao hopes to gain space and freedom, assisted by Theo.

Inter’s luxury is Lautaro Martinez: 5 goals in the last 5 derbies won by Inter. He is the top scorer in Serie A so far: 5 goals, ahead of Giroud (4). The two were on the field in the final of the last World Cup.

Among the areas to pay attention to Lautaro’s runs cannot be missed, also because he will attack a defence in an emergency with Tomori disqualified and Kalulu injured.

In the derby of February 2023, Lautaro left the Dane on the ground and flew to score the match-winning goal. Loftus-Cheek and Reijnders bring weight and height, but do not have strong defensive aptitudes.

Lautaro has lost the wisdom of Dzeko and the strength of Lukaku, but Thuram knows how to play both roles. A novelty that is not easy to read for Pioli’s defence.

Tags AC Milan Inter Milan

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