Inter Club Focus: A Nerazzurri View Of The Derby della Madonnina
This weekend sees the 177th addition of the Derby della Madonnina and for fans all around the world it is a time of great anticipation and excitement. This year the derby has come at the perfect time as both teams are in outstanding form on the field, not to mention the very public struggle the two rivals have been engaged in off the field over the signing of Carlos Tevez.
For Inter the game comes on the back of a great run in the league were they have won seven of their last eight matches and have risen up the table from a lowly 18th in the standings to now sit in 5th, just eight points behind their city rivals who currently top the league. However, they will have to turn around a trend that has seen them lose the last three derbies, including a humiliating 3-0 loss in April last year that all but ruled them out of the title running.
Entering his first ever Milan derby, Claudio Ranieri has sort to immediately place the pressure on the opponent and play down expectations of his own team. Having risen the ladder so emphatically over recent months he will know that success on Sunday will firmly place Inter back into the title race. However, with this in mind Ranieri must be feeling some degree of pressure as despite having coached for nearly a quarter of a century, he is yet to win a league title and the derby will be one of the biggest games he has been involved in during his career.
On the field things are going from strength to strength for Inter and although not all of their most recent results have come through great performances, they have been building a level of consistency not seen in almost two years when they won the treble under Jose Mourinho. The foundation for this recent string of results has come through an improved defence, chiefly coinciding with the return to the central pairing of Walter Samuel and Lucio. In addition to this, keeper Julio Cesar has enjoyed a return to form that has seen Inter earn five clean sheets from their last seven games. In fact this area will be key to Sundays game as Inter’s ageing defenders look to stifle their former team mate, and Milan star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Also coinciding with Inter’s improved run has been the form of Argentine hitman Diego Milito, who against Parma in the last round was back to the form that made him the club Talisman during the 2009-10 season. This form along with the return from injury of Diego Forlan will provide somewhat of a headache for Ranieri, as he settles on his favoured strike partnership with Giampaolo Pazzini also strongly in the mix for a starting berth.
However the biggest dilemma that Ranieri faces is how to use the returning Wesley Sneijder. Sneijder has been out of action since November and despite fears to the contrary, Inter have found great success in his absence. One of the reasons for this is the switch to a 4-4-2 formation, one that Sneijder does not fit into easily, and one would think that Ranieri would be hesitant to ‘tinker'(in this case) with this formation ahead of such an important game. One way that Sneijder could be used is as an impact substitute depending on how the game is unfolding, as there is no question once on the field he can be a match winning player with his dead ball expertise and his needle like passing.
Ultimately though the derby is won by the team that settles the quickest and rises to the occasion of one of football’s great rivalries. It is a game won as much in the mind as it is by the feet of the 22 gifted athletes that take to the pitch. For the fans around the world who follow these two great clubs everything goes on hold and emotions and hearts go on the line as what is much more than a football match takes place.
For this Interista it is about waking early in the morning in Australia, alone in my lounge room draped in club colours and while always on my feet, I’ll scream at the television and shake my fists in either anger or delight, and when the goal comes like I have done for two decades I will celebrate with an obligatory knee slide. To the non believer it may sound crazy, to those with a love for the “Beautiful Game” its just what we do to show support for our beloved club. I just hope the knee slide is required more than once. Forza Inter!!
For all the latest Serie A news don’t forget to check out the news section of Forza Italian Football.
Join Forza Italian Football on Twitter and Facebook.