The San Siro will be witness to the 230th Derbi de Milano and the 176th meeting in the league between bitter rivals Internazionale and Milan. Even when these teams spent some time out in the wilderness in the 2010s with some mid-table finishes, the animosity and the spectacle between the two still managed to survive. Their most recent clash felt a little lacklustre in comparison to recent games, a 1-1 draw with one booking that fizzled out after the first half. For a game that so often delivers, I’m chalking this down as an anomaly and expecting some real entertainment from the home of Da Vinci. To get you prepared I’ve selected 3 Bet Builder tips and a complementary Cheat Sheet for kick off at 17:00 on Saturday.
Inter top the table as things stand with 53 points and the highest goal difference in the league by some margin at +36. After a slow start to the season, Simone Inzaghi’s men have found a rich vein of form and it’s worth noting they haven’t been beaten at home in 28 league matches! Of those 28 games, 25 have been wins! However, this impressive streak only began after a 2-1 defeat to none other than AC Milan. They look the team to beat this season and concerns about replacing Lukaku seem to be a distant memory. The man who replaced the prolific Belgian to very little fanfare Edin Dzeko, has taken the goalscoring burden on surprisingly well with 12 goals to become top scorer alongside his strike partner Lautaro Martinez on 11. They are clear favourites entering this match and Milan may struggle to penetrate their rock-solid defence who haven’t conceded in 7 of their last 9 games.
Their goalscoring endeavours won’t be helped by the absence of invincible forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has scored a club high 8 goals in the league this season. He is a doubt for Saturday’s match with an Achilles issue from their previous outing alongside Ante Rebic and Fikayo Tomori. Milan haven’t had the same mid-season success as their counterparts and are looking back to the beginning of the calendar with rose-tinted glasses when they topped the table and beat their hosts in October. Things haven’t been as plain sailing since then, they have recorded only 3 wins in their last 6 league games. They’re also winless in their last 2, however their most recent 0-0 outing against Juventus saw them dominate for large portions of the match but fail to convert.
Milan are the biggest threat to derailing Inter’s unbeaten streak considering the importance of this 6-pointer. A win puts them 1 point off the Nerazurri, and above 2nd placed Napoli. Even with their absentees they will still be able to field a very strong squad, Leao has excelled this season and is only beaten by Inter defector Calhanoglu’s WhoScored rating between the 2 teams (7.31 and 7.41 respectively). Similarly, Giroud will step in to lead the line who boasts a return of 5 goals in 7 Serie A games. The return of Kessie from international duty to partner Sandro Tonali will also be a boost for this Milan team who will be fired up to collect their second Inter scalp of the season.
Denzel Dumfries 1+ Shots on Target
World class attacking wingbacks are like gold dust in the modern game. Achraf Hakimi left Inter for PSG in the Summer window with an incredible 7 goals and 10 assists in Serie A to his name. Many in the Inter camp felt it would be impossible if not very difficult to replace the Moroccan’s output, but impressive PSV wingback Denzel Dumfries was chosen as the man to fill his shoes. The captain of the Dutch outfit seemed a natural replacement because his attacking skills and pace matched Hakimi’s, and his defensive output was considered even better.
Fast forward to midway through the season and it’s been a slow but progressive start for the Dutchman. Until this January, he didn’t manage a consecutive start for the Nerazurri in light of surprising competition from Mateo Darmian for the right-hand side. However, his start against Spezia saw him have a consistent starting spot for 6 games for the first time in his Inter career. This opportunity was taken with both hands by the Dutchman who scored against Roma the game after and netted another 2 times in these 6 games. This gives him an impressive return of 3 goals from 9 starts in an Inter shirt and his shooting stats are even more impressive.
As per the Cheat Sheet, you can see that Dumfries attempts 1.33 shots per game. From those attempted shots an incredible 1.05 hit the target! This makes him by some margin the most accurate shooter on both teams and his recent goalscoring success will no doubt boost his confidence in front of the net. All of Dumfries goals and the majority of his shots come from inside the penalty box, this is a good indicator of why he is so proficient at hitting the target.
There will be room in the box for the flying Dutchman on Saturday because he will be lining up Theo Hernandez on the opposing side. Hernandez has a similar aptitude going forward but does not have the luxury of 3 centre-backs to cover his attacking exploits. He is often caught out of position in defence and is heavily reliant on his pace to cover his backline. Dumfries will be waiting to catch the Frenchman out with balls over the defence from deep so I expect he will have plenty of opportunity to make his way into the box to capitalize on the Frenchman’s defensive foibles. Word on the ground suggests he will start for The Nerazzurri on Saturday, and he looks brilliant value for a shot on target at 1.67.
Prediction: Denzel Dumfries 1+ Shots on Target
Hakan Çalhanoğlu To Be Carded
I’m slightly reluctant to suggest any cards for this game for a few reasons. The first is that there are seemingly less cards in recent derby matches when the ref wants to keep a lid on things. Case in point was last weeks Dundee derby which had some real contenders for a yellow card, but the referee John Beaton only dished out a single yellow to poor old Charlie Adam. This is even more shocking considering that Beaton has one of the highest card averages in the Scottish league. The same was true of the reverse fixture between the two Milan teams which saw one booking between the two teams which was officiated by Daniele Doveri. A notable omission from the referee’s book that day was Franck Kessie who dodged a booking when conceding a penalty.
The second reason is that the man in charge of the of the action Marco Guida, is reluctant to dish out cards as frequently as his colleagues. He averages 3.71 yellow cards per game this season which is relatively low considering the mean number of cards shown by Serie A refs is closer to 5 than his 4. However, as I mentioned previously, I’m chalking down the last meeting as a one-off dampener. Even considering the lack of bookings in the last meeting, the last 6 games have produced 4.33 yellows per game!
My booking selection will be man who dared to switch allegiances in Summer, Hakan Çalhanoğlu. He managed to sneak out of Milan to their bitter rivals Internazionale on a free transfer which as you can imagine has not filled them with kind words and well wishes for the Turkish Talisman. He has gone from strength to strength at his new club and has been vital in their push for a consecutive Scudetto. His propensity for wonder goals is matched by his ability for horror tackles. As a creative midfielder he is not a natural ball winner, and his fouls tend to come from tackles that are not placed with any intention to win the ball. He only commits 1.45 fouls per game but has amassed 6 yellow cards! This shows that when he fouls the tackle is bad enough that it warrants a yellow card, he is very efficient at getting in the referee’s book.
He is joint top for bookings with Nico Barella this season and will be facing up against a Milan midfield that will test his ability to avoid the ref’s whistle. Bennacer (3.71), Saelemaekers (2.6), Tonali (2.17), and Bakayoko (2.04) all draw a consistently high number of fouls in the league this season. Stefano Pioli’s side like to play out from the back which will mean a greater number of tackles in the final third for Çalhanoğlu in the number 10 role. They also press the opposition when not in possession, which will force the midfielder into faster decisions and therefore more mistakes. He’ll be going out for the first time as an Inter player in front of the home fans in a Milan derby so I’m expecting the playmaker to be fired up for the occasion. He managed a goal in the last meeting and I’m expecting him to end up on the match report with a card or a goal if not both. He’s available for odds of 4.0 on Paddy Power.
Prediction: Hakan Çalhanoğlu to be Carded
Inter Or Draw Double Chance
As mentioned previously, Inter are the team to beat (or not) this season. They’ve amassed an incredible 28 game unbeaten streak at home this season 25 of which have been wins. Of course, the last loss at home was handed out by their guests on Saturday, but the H2H between the two suggests that this was a one-off. In the last 11 meetings between the 2 in the league Inter have only lost 1 of them! Milan will also enter the match without their veteran top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who arguably makes them less mobile as a unit but is undoubtebly a big game player. They have been short for goals in recent derby meetings managing a paltry 6 goals in 6 games compared to Inter’s 13 goals from the same period.
Their absence of goals will hamper their chances against a prolific Inter side. This season they have the highest average number of goals scored with 2.41 goals per game. Inzaghi’s defensive record is also impressive, his team are only beaten by Napoli for lowest average number of goals conceded this season with 0.77 per game. Similarly, Napoli are the only team with a higher rate of clean sheets this season which is a testament to the balance the manager has found between his attack and defence.
Milan are without a win in their last 2, this included a humiliating 2-1 defeat to bottom half of the table Spezia. They are definitely still in contention for this year’s Scudetto, however they have struggled for consistency since the start of the season. The January transfer window was a quiet one for the Rossoneri to the dismay of fans, and squad depth required for a title push appears to be lacking. Pound for pound, the Inter starting line-up is of higher stock than their visitors this weekend and I believe home advantage really swings this tie in their favour. Inter will look to continue onto a 30-game unbeaten home streak with a result on Saturday, they’re available to win or draw for odds of 1.17.
Prediction: Inter to Win or Draw
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Inter Milan predicted XI (3-5-2) : Handanović; Škriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozović, Çalhanoğlu, Perišić; Džeko, Martínez.
AC Milan predicted XI (4-3-2-1) : Maignan; Calabria, Kalulu, Romagnoli, Hernández; Tonali, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, Kessié, Leão; Giroud.
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* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing *
How to watch Inter v AC Milan in the Serie A
📅 When is Inter v AC Milan? / Saturday, 5th February 2022, 17:00
🏟 Where is Inter v AC Milan? / San Siro (Milan)
📺 What TV channel is Inter v AC Milan on? / BT Sport 2
🟨 …And who is the referee for Inter v AC Milan? / M. Guida 🇮🇹