The Derby della Madonnina between Inter and AC Milan is a fixture virtually every Serie A supporter looks forward to and it is a derby lauded and loved by football fans globally. Yet, were it not for an internal dispute 110 years ago, this historic rivalry may not have existed at all.
In December 1899, AC Milan was founded by a couple of English expats, forming one of the first football clubs in Italy. However, eight years on, there was a disagreement amongst its members regarding the signing of foreign players which led to a split, and, subsequently, Internazionale was formed. This would mark the beginning of a battle between what would become two of the biggest names in world football.
In 1908, a rivalry was born, and it has been fiercely contested ever since. There is some debate regarding the inaugural meeting between the two sides. It is said that the first game took place in Switzerland in 1908, in the final of the Chiasso Cup, won 2-1 by Milan, but records and evidence of this are patchy. But, in their first recorded meeting in the Prima Categoria, the Italian Football Championship, in January 1909, Milan ran out 3-2 winners.
Somewhat bizarrely, the sides have an astonishingly similar record in their impressive histories, with 30 domestic trophies apiece. They have both won 18 league titles, with their last ones coming in 2010 and 2011 respectively, whilst they have a similar success rate in the Coppa Italia, with Inter edging their rivals’ total seven to five. This is reversed in the Suppercoppa Italiana, with Milan winning seven and Inter winning five.
Their head-to-head record is much the same, with Inter triumphing 78 times, to Milan’s 76. However, on the continent, it is Milan who have the edge on their rivals with seven Champions League titles to Inter’s three – though Inter do have three Europa Leagues whereas Milan don’t have any.
As happens in football, their successes have come in cycles, with both teams dominating the derby for spells. Inter hold the record for the longest undefeated streak, going on for nearly ten years between 1928 and 1938, but it is Milan who have notched the largest victory, with a 6-0 win in 2001.
In recent years neither side has really dominated, though Milan have not won ‘away’ to Inter since 2010, (which does not bode particularly well for Gennaro Gattuso this weekend). The two sides meet at their shared home, the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, or Stadio San Siro, named after the former Inter and Milan forward – one of many famous players to have crossed the divide within the city.
More recently a host of household names have done the same, with: Ronaldo, Andrea Pirlo, Roberto Baggio, Edgar Davids, Patrick Viera, Clarence Seedorf, Hernan Crespo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, amongst others, all moving between the clubs. Though, on Sunday, no player will have played for both sides.
In the last few seasons, the derby has not had as much riding on it as it once had due to the lull both sides have suffered in recent years. Apart from bragging rights, it is not the top of the table clash it once was.
However, there is a consensus that both clubs are beginning to move back in the right direction and, hopefully, it is not too long before this is once again a clash between, not just two of Italy’s best, but two of Europe’s elite.