Published On: Sun, Jul 31st, 2011

AC Milan vs Inter – Derby della Madonnina

The Milan derby was named in honour of one of the most striking sights of the city, the Virgin Mary statue on the top of the Duomo which is usually called the ‘Madonnina’.

The Milan derby remains as popular as ever not only with Italian fans but those all over the world.  The rivalry has been stoked in the last year by Leonardo’s defection from AC across the city to Inter.  To hammer home the fans distaste for him at the derby at the San Siro in April, fans unfolded a banner showing a painting of the last supper with Leonardo depicted as Judas.

Leonardo’s defection was like a soap opera, with Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani stating ‘Its like a divorce. You have to remember the good years of your marriage.  It was a great relationship but its over now’.  Robinho was a bit more blunt, ‘It was his decision to go.  He will have to accept the consequences of his actions’.

All this surrounds a historic derby famous for its theatrical performances before matches and pulsating atmosphere created by the fans in the stadium.  It’s also notable for the lack of violence associated with the other derbies inItaly.  Gate receipts usually total around 1.4 million Euros.  However, the roots of the derby have a far more humble beginning.

On December 16th 1899 Alfred Edwards, the former vice-consul in Milan and a member of Milan’s high society founded Milan Cricket and Football Club.  There was a strong English driving force behind the team and half a dozen of the associations original members were English – and the son of a Nottingham butcher was the club’s first captain.  For a while things were all good, with Milan picking up the title in 1901, 1906 and 1907.  Then came the divorce.

In 1908 a splinter group led by artist Giorgio Muggiani broke away over issues regarding the signing of foreign players.   On March 8th 1908 Internationale Milano was born.  The first meeting of the clubs was bizarrely played in Chiasso, 50 miles north of Milan and actually in Switzerland.  Nobody is quite sure why.  AC Milan won 2-1.

Inter’s early history was nomadic, and only in 1930 did they settle in the Arena stadium just outside the cities ring of ancient gates. Milan built a ground in the San Siro area of the city in 1926 before selling it on to the authorities and building an enlarged version in 1939.  The next year Inter obtained permission to play their end of season title decider at the San Siro to allow more fans to watch – an arrangement made permanent in 1947.

Unlike the Derby d’Italia, rivalry rarely turns to violence.  Back in 1983 trouble between ultras was common, but after the death of an Inter fan when there were clashes after a derby outside the ground the opposing ultras got together and agreed an end to the violence.  They have even helped each other on the pitch.  In 1982 when Milan were relegated to Serie B and in a tight financial spot, Inter loaned them three players which helped them come back up to Serie A.  Even when it was opened the San Siro museum displayed trophies from both sides together.

In 1986 Silvio Berlusconi took over Milan and started a revolution, addressing the imbalance in silverware with their rivals.  The end of the 80’s and early 90’s were a platform for some of the most entertaining years of rivalry between the clubs.  The Dutch trio of Marco Van Baston, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit played for Milan and faced off against the German trio of Andreas Brehme, Jurgen Klinsmann and Lothar Matthaus at Inter.

Although this period was dominated by Milan, the rivalry was transferred to the World Cup Stage.  The Dutch met the Germans at the San Siro in a bad tempered match that saw Rijkaard sent off for spitting on Rudi Voller, with the Dutch loosing 2-1 to goals from Inter players Klinsmann and Brehme. Milan still went on to dominate at both league and international level – Fabio Capello’s Invincibles won Milan’s fifth European Cup in 1994.

One of the most notorious meetings between the clubs came in the UEFA Champions League quarter finals in April 2005. Milanwere 1-0 up after an early goal and leading 3-0 on aggregate.  It was too much for Inter supporters and they plunged over the edge after a controversial refereeing decision went against them.  Bottles were thrown onto the pitch and flares lit up.  Dida, trying to clear the debris from the pitch late in the game was struck by a flare.

The match was halted for 30 minutes in which fire-fighters had to remove the burning flares.  Dida had to be subbed but the game only continued for a minute more before being abandoned after more flares and objects were thrown onto the pitch.  The match was awarded a 3-0 victory to Milan.

Inter were fined 200,000 Euros and ordered to play the first four Champions League matches of next season behind closed doors.

In the past few years Mourinho’s success and Leonardo crossing the city divide has made sure that next years meeting will be no less passionate and desperate affairs.

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