The 2020/21 season’s first meeting between Inter Milan and AC Milan looks set to be a big one.
Both sides are enjoying unbeaten starts to the new Serie A campaign. Milan are one of the Italian top flight’s two remaining ‘perfect’ teams while Inter’s 100% win-rate record was broken by a draw with Lazio just before the international break.
But when the Milan Derby comes around, form is often removed from the equation. So what can you expect from the latest instalment of the Derby della Madonnina?
1. Predicted Inter lineup:
Antonio Conte’s side have no fewer than six players set to miss Saturday’s game through fitness issues: Roberto Gagliardini, Radja Nainggolan, Ashley Young, Milan Skriniar, Ionut Radu and Alessandro Bastoni. Bastoni could still return to the bench, however.
And that’s not all. Inter will miss Stefano Sensi due to his red card against Lazio prior to the international break, picked up less than 20 minutes after coming on as a substitute. That may actually make things slightly easier for Conte (and us) in terms of picking his starting XI. We can expect Achraf Hakimi and Ivan Perisic to start at wing-back while Aleksandar Kolarov could be the one to replace Milan Skriniar in defence.
?️ | #BROTHERSOFTHEWORLD
It's going to be a big one #DerbyMilano. Not long now 'til #InterMilan kick-off! ? ??#InterFans where in the world will YOU be watching?#ForzaInter pic.twitter.com/wGt09Qx2no
— Inter (@Inter_en) October 17, 2020
2. Predicted Milan lineup:
Milan have fewer absences, but arguably more impactful ones.
Ante Rebic remains a doubt after he dislocated his elbow in the win over Crotone and is not expected to return in time for Saturday. He has now been joined on the sidelines by Matteo Gabbia and Leo Duarte, which poses a big problem for Milan; they only have one fit centre-back.
In the absence of Alessio Romagnoli and Mateo Musacchio, Matteo Gabbia has been partnering Simon Kjaer at the heart of Milan’s defence, and it’s been working. The Rossoneri are one of only two sides yet to concede in Serie A this season.
But who will partner Kjaer in central defence against Inter? Fortunately for AC Milan, Romagnoli has returned to fitness and looks set be thrown straight into the fray, when Stefano Pioli may have preferred to ease him in.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also back and expected to lead the line, while Franck Kessie may return to the starting XI having been replaced by Sandro Tonali in the win over Spezia.
❗️ OFFICIAL: #ACMilan's starting XI for #InterMilan…
? Thoughts? pic.twitter.com/NI0HiZ07US
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) October 17, 2020
3. Romelu Lukaku to haunt Milan again
Milan may be yet to concede in Serie A but the presence of a less-than-match-fit Romagnoli could finally see their defence breached. And the man most likely to do that is Romelu Lukaku.
In 54 appearances for Inter so far across all competitions, Lukaku has scored 37 goals, including 26 in Serie A. Two of those came against Milan last season, scoring in each of the derbies at the San Siro. Milan were just one of four teams against whom Lukaku scored in both league matches last season, and they could become the first side to concede against the Belgian in three Serie A games.
Based on Lukaku’s current form, that looks likely. The Belgian has three league goals so far this season, one against Fiorentina and two away to Benevento; only Lazio have prevented him from scoring.
Lukaku also carried that form into the international break, scoring from the spot in Belgium’s Nations League defeat to England and thereby extending his lead as the country’s all-time top goalscorer.