AC Milan and Inter’s house of cards remains on rocky terrain
Perhaps it’s only fitting that the season’s second Derby della Madonnina between Inter and AC Milan ended much like the first, with neither side looking like finished products heading into the final stretch of the Serie A season.
While it was Ivan Perisic who levelled the contest in November, Cristian Zapata made the headlines on Saturday by scoring deep into time added on time to cap off a 2-2 draw in what was a thrilling, yet ultimately, unfulfilling result for either team.
Inter will likely be the more disappointed of the two, as once their anger at referee Daniele Orsato and his decision to add seven minutes of injury time dissipates, they will wonder how they let a comfortable two-goal lead vanish in such careless fashion.
Unfortunately for Stefano Pioli, much of the blame will fall at his feet given his side once again failed to deliver against a rival. While their performance was positive up until the 83rd minute, it’s a result that would have been more acceptable at the beginning of the Italian’s tenure, not April.
The problem is that Inter have taken on the attributes associated with their coach – The Normal One. The Nerazzurri seem to have gone through Pioli’s elixir in record time, and the unbeaten run put together between early December and February seems like it was ages ago.
Despite looking comfortable and Samir Handanovic rarely being threatened, Pioli decided to bunker down in the final stages of the match once Gianluca Lapadula and Lucas Ocampos were brought on in a desperate attempt to get Milan back in the match.
The decision to bring on Jeison Murillo for Joao Mario in response will haunt the tactician and may end up costing him a chance at sticking around net season, while Jonathan Biabiany’s inclusion – his first Serie A appearance since Matchday 37 of the 2015/16 season – for Candreva cemented the Italian’s confused state and added further fuel to Gabigol’s anger.
It’s all the more disappointing given Milan’s performance over the course of the 90 minutes. Vincenzo Montella did what he could given what he has at his disposal, but it’s clear the Rossoneri’s new owner Yonghong Li must bring in new faces in the middle of the park.
Milan’s lack of quality in midfield hampered them all match, with youngster Tomas Locatelli’s inclusion slightly helping matters. For large portions of the match it was only Gerard Deulofeu who kept things afloat, as Suso only woke up once he smelled Inter’s fear late in the contest.
While the 2-2 result means Montella and his side remain one point up on the Nerazzurri, it does little to quell the notion that both sides are where they should be in the standings: sixth and seventh place.
European football likely won’t arrive for both teams next season, and while there are players to build around, the feeling is that a real battle to dislodge Juventus from their Serie A perch is still some ways away.
Thus once the furor from Saturday’s contest dies away, both Inter and Milan will return to a reality where the prospect of better days will push them forward given their current situations are wholly unsatisfying.