From banter eras to the biggest stage: Why the Euroderby is a symbol of Milanese resurgence

By Hussnian Qaiser -

The Milan Derby, also known as ‘The Derby Della Madonnina’, is one of the oldest and most famous rivalries in the history of football, with the first encounter going as back as 1909 in which the Rossoneri triumphed 3-2 at home.

Since then, this legendary derby has become so big that it has divided the city of Milano into two, pitting the red and black half and the black and blue half of the Navigli (the canal district) against each other.

Over the years, this match has seen some of the greatest players to play the beautiful game take part in it: Giuseppe Meazza, Perversi, Aldo Boffi in the early 1900s followed by the great Milan of Sacchi that had the likes of Baresi, Maldini and the ‘Tre Tulipani’ of Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten.

These were followed by Andriy Shevchenko and Javier Zanetti in the early 2000s as well as the Inter side that won the treble under Jose Mourinho, to today where new players like Rafael Leao and Lautaro Martinez are trying to leave their mark and become legends for their respective clubs.

This is just a little fraction of all the great players who lit up this amazing fixture over the years, which is why it has remained a classic derby in the footballing world despite the up and down nature of the two teams since their last UCL triumphs.

Fans from all over the world have this game on their bucket list to experience at least once in their lifetime, however, the massive drop off in both clubs from the early 2010s saw this fixture lose at bit of its importance.

Both Milan and Inter went into what is commonly referred to as a ‘banter era’ in which they were no longer recognisable for their star power and the latter stages of European competitions evaded them. Due to that not many global fans kept tabs on them as much anymore, even if the fixture was still huge in Italy.

It was not until the late 2010s that the resurgence of both clubs started to happen. Milan under Paolo Maldini as technical director – who holds the most appearances as a player in derbies with 56 – and Inter under Beppe Marotta closed the gap to Juventus and overthrew them.

Both clubs suffered a lot doing their difficult times, from poor league finishes to being bankrupt, with some embarrassing results and finishes in the league, so to see both back on top was a great thing for the entire footballing world.

Both teams started to qualify for the Champions League again, and the fight for the Scudetto and last year Serie A one of the best and most marketable title races in recent years, going down to the final day where the red side of the city celebrated after a 3-0 victory over Sassuolo.

Last season was magical due to this reason, how it kept the fans on the edge of their seat throughout the entire year with so many key moments.

There was the point when Olivier Giroud spun Stefan De Vrij to win the Derby, which is still sung about to this day, plus Sandro Tonali’s winner against Lazio three days before the Ionut Radu mistake at Bologna.

Since then, given both teams were back on top of Italian football again, at the start of this season many tipped for Milan and Inter to go back and forth in the title race to see who was going to get the second star on their shirt first, since both clubs are on 19 Scudetti each.

Napoli’s excellent form, Milan’s injury crisis and the blackout at the start of the new year plus Inter’s poor domestic form has not allowed this to happen, however, nobody could have guessed that instead of fighting for the 20th Scudetto this year, the Milanese clubs would be fighting for a spot in the UCL final.

It does go to show how far both sides have come over this past decade and how they are bringing the importance of this derby back up on an international level.

This is the second time that the Milan Derby will take place in a Champions League semi-final, the first one being in the 2002-03 season in which the Rossoneri advanced due to the away goal rule and then went on to lift the trophy in that final against Juve at Old Trafford.

They met again two years later but this time in the quarter-final phase, and Milan again got through by winning by 5-0 on aggregate in the 2004-05 season in a tie notable for producing the photo of Rui Costa and Marco Materazzi watching flares rain down from the Inter tifosi.

This will hands down be the biggest Milan Derby in over a decade since it has so much at stake. It will also be the fourth and fifth encounters in the same season between the two clubs, a new record, with Inter having won twice this season and Milan winning once.

The entire world will be watching this – over 120 countries in fact – and both teams will be motivated to give their all to save a season that domestically has been a disappointment. 

Currently there have been 232 official games played between the two with Milan winning 85, Inter winning 78 and 69 ending in a draw. Without a doubt a football classic, let’s hope it lives up to its expectations.

Tags AC Milan Milan Inter

1 Comment

  1. There’s no such thing as the banter era. Stop pushing this stupid term. No one in Italy knows what it is and the term isn’t used in the mainstream media either. It’s a term used by a tiny number of UK Milan fans and it’s a stupid term.

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