Today Inter faced Milan in what would be one of the most entertaining matches of the season. Everything was on the line in a matchup between 3rd and 4th place, let alone derby bragging rights. Inter was coming off a disappointing stretch of matches. They had only won 1 match out of their last 5 (1W, 2D, 2L). On top of this, it was only 3 days prior that they had been eliminated from the Europa league. On the other had AC Milan were on a path of great form, being undefeated in 10 Serie A matches. This consisted of 7 wins 3 draws and not a single loss.
All aspects of this match seemed to be pointing in the direction of a Milan victory. But the Milan managers’ remarks prior to kick-off suggested that there was more the play for. ‘Over the last 5 years all I’ve heard is that Inter are dead and buried, but recent for doesn’t exist in the derby. We need to respect our opponents.’ – Gennaro Gattuso. And he was spot on, with all statistics, recent form and rumour’s being thrown out the window. This match was to be played with passion and love for the jersey that they were wearing.
The match started off extremely quickly. A goal was put into the back of the net after only 3 minutes. The play started when Vecino had the ball deep into Milan’s half. A pass was then put to Perisic who crossed it deep into the box. Martinez met the ball with his head, and rather than aim at goal he placed it centre of the box. It was Vecino who then smashed the ball into the net. Credit must be given to Martinez here, who opted to place the ball in the box rather than aim at goals, allowing Vecino for the opening goal of the match.
Although no further goals to be scored in the first half, the pressure was still applied by both teams. Handanovic stopped a couple of shots, but overall the momentum of the match was split 50/50.
The second half started as well as the first with Inter doubling their lead within 6 minutes of play. A beautiful set piece from the corner led to the Inter goal. Politano took a short corner, followed by a 1-2 play and he then crossed it into the box. This was met by the perfect head of Stefan De Vrij who floated the head into the back of the net.
Milan struck back within 6 minutes with Bakayoko getting onto the scoresheet for Milan. Calhanoglu put a perfect cross into the box, and Bakayoko found the back of the net with his head. It was at this point that it appeared that the game was nowhere near over, and there was life still in the match. The score was 2-1 to Inter with 30 minutes remaining.
Inter’s third goal came in the form of a penalty. Politano was making his way out of the box when he was tripped over by Romangnoli. The referee took a tumble but got straight back up to award the penalty. The spot kick was converted by Martinez in unconvincing fashion, with Donnarumma diving the right way and almost stopping it. Martinez’s goal restored Inters 2 goal advantage, giving Inter a 3-1 lead.
In true derby fashion, the goals did not stop there. 4 minutes after the Martinez goal Milan struck back. This time the goal was scored through Mateo Musacchio via a tap in. A cross into the box, led to a terrible clearance attempt Musacchio was there to clean up the scraps and tap it in. This goal would leave both Milan and Inter fans on the edge of their seats for the last 20 minutes. Fortunately for Inter nothing further transpired and they finished the match 3-2 winners.
So what does this mean for Inter? This win means the world to a team that is currently struggling to find form. It was truly a match worthy of the hype surrounding it. 3rd vs 4th place, with not just bragging rights on the line. Inter have lacked composition in the team due to injury and off the field drama. Further this they have failed to find any winning consistency. In the 5 matches leading up to this inter had only 1 win, and were kicked out of the Europa League. Their morale and spirits were at an all-time low. On top of this, the lack of fit players for the clash left Spalletti with very limited options on which players he was going to field.
Inter have had a turn of fortune this weekend with multiple results going their way. Roma’s loss to SPAL, Atalanta dropping points against Chievo, all reducing the pressure in the Champions League race. Today’s victory put Inter 2 points clear of Milan in 3rd place, and 6 points ahead of 5th placed Roma. This is the perfect leverage heading into their next match against Lazio.
Inter will be extremely pleased with this result. They head into international break with a win, hoping to return to the Serie A with a full strength team. This is the confidence they needed especially after getting kicked out of all European competition.
Spalletti’s would be also pleased with the result, hoping that it will put a pause on his imminent sacking. But was victory due to his tactical brilliance? In short, not really, why? Well 3 days prior a similar squad faced Frankfurt, and played terribly. They lacked passion, desire, and confidence. This victory can be put down to the meaning behind winning the Derby Della Madonnina. Such a prestigious fixture in Italian football gives the players something more to fight for. Spalletti may live to fight another day, but is he only delaying the inevitable.