AC Milan v Inter Preview
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;
2 Ivan Cordoba, 4 Javier Zanetti, 13 Maicon, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;
5 Dejan Stankovic, 8 Thiago Motta, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;
7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.
My predicted line up
It’s great to see Milito back in the squad and i think should take full advantage of that so i predict that Leonardo will play a 4-2-3-1 formation with Julio Cesar obviously in the goal, a defensive line of Maicon, Ranocchia, Chivu & Zanetti, Cambiasso & Motta in the defensive midfield and Eto’o, Sneijder & Pazzini in the forward midfield and Milito spearheading the formation.
It’s a shame Lucio is suspended as he is a vital part of our defense but i feel Ranocchia & Chivu are up to the job anyway.
Leonardo’s Press Conference
“I have lots of different feelings at the moment, on the eve of this derby, but my feelings aren’t the most important thing. I have fond memories of everything that has gone on in my life before now, and I respect the past, but that is only one facet of a fantastic match which is this derby.” That was how Leonardo began as he spoke to journalists in the press room at the Stadio Meazza.
“I do wish I was playing in this game,” Leonardo admitted, “because a coach has a part to play but the game belongs to the players. This isn’t my match, it’s Inter’s match, the players’ match. I’m not seeking revenge.” Asked what reception he expected to be given by the AC Milan fans, Leonardo replied: “As I’ve said, I respect football and everything it represents for people, and I respect others’ opinions. I’m not worried. At the age of 30 I went through a moment when I looked at my life introspectively, when I was caught up in lots of thoughts, but from that moment on I decided I would live this game with joy, and within my own parameters and values. I have my own convictions and I want to live my life with joy. And that includes tomorrow’s game.”
I would expect the Milan fans are going to give Leonardo a hard time during tomorrows match just for the fact that it’s his first derby since his switch to Inter, but given his history with AC i’d imagine he’ll easily take it in his stride.
How have Inter’s preparations for this game gone?
“The players have all lived very different lives over the last two weeks, with so many international games going on, but these players are professionals and I don’t think they are affected much by these things. Naturally there’s a bit of fatigue that we have to deal with,” explained the Nerazzurri coach. He then added that “a derby game goes beyond any sort of tactical consideration, it’s an extraordinary event: we all know each other very well, so I don’t think there are any secrets you can work out or plans you can come up with. Ibrahimovic’s absence? He’s an important player for AC Milan, and a great player, but these are things that can happen.”
For Inter any of our players have the potential to be decisive in these big games but as usual Sneijder & Eto’o are our two main men that Milan will have to watch very closely, though if they concentrate on them two too much Pazzini & Milito will surely punish any mistakes.
He was then asked to comment on the appointment of Nicola Rizzoli as referee: “I never talk about referees after the game so I’m certainly not going to beforehand. For what it’s worth I think he’s a very good referee, but it really makes no difference to me.”
How will Leonardo react, as an ex-AC Milan player, if Inter score? “I’ll react in whatever way feels natural at the time. I feel very much a part of this club and my job is to help the team score goals and win games, so there’s no reason to hold myself back. I don’t know how I will react but I’ll do it freely and I don’t think there’s anything wrong if I feel happy about it.”
Asked to predict the result, Leonardo replied: “It’s hard to say, but we’ll do everything we can to make sure Inter win it, of course. On a psychological level this derby is an energy-drainer and it is important for the league table, but it doesn’t end here so the result won’t be decisive.”
There was an inevitable question about Ganso, the coach’s relationship with the player and the battle with AC Milan for his signature. “I’ve been speaking to Ganso for a while now but it’s not a battle to sign him… What he has to concentrate on now is playing football and recovering properly from a serious injury. I’ve been offering him support over the last year and we’ve built up a relationship, but I don’t know what will happen. And like him, we too have other things to think about at the moment, such as the end of the season.”
And what a climax to the season it’s shaping up to be, after our terrible start with Benitez who’d have thought we’d still be fighting for the treble now, whether or not you like the fact our manager is an ex-Milan player, manager, director the fact remains he has performed miricles with Inter in 2011.
“It’s the biggest match, the match I for one have felt the most intensely over the last ten years, because the local rivalry is really strong and when you’re on that pitch you always want to win it. There’s always that desire to beat the other Milan team.” Marco Materazzi was speaking to Roberto Scarpini in A tu per tu, featured this afternoon during Countdown.
How does it feel when you score in a derby match? “It’s a wonderful sensation, you feel an explosion of joy in yourself and the supporters. I can say that the goal I got in the derby [October 28 2006, AC Milan 3-4 Inter] felt like one of the best I’ve ever scored.”
When Materazzi is reminded that, along with Rino Gattuso, he is the player with the most sendings off and bookings in the derby, he explains that “the yellows were probably all deserved; one of the reds I was given because I took my shirt off after I’d been getting stick for six or seven years, so I got sent off for two yellows; the other one was because Flamini punched Adriano in the head and we should have had a penalty, and Morganti [the referee] – with the whole bench on their feet – saw me say ‘When the f*** are you going to blow for it?’ But that was the first time and the last time because I don’t think you’ll see many more sendings off like that.”
If Materazzi has much in common with Gattuso, the same can be said of him and another good friend of his, Francesco Totti, a player who feels derby matches as intensely as Marco. “If we are friends,” says Matrix, “it’s because we both have blood running through our veins, not water. We have always given everything, and in that sense Francesco is as good an example as you can get.
“It would be wrong to think the championship is over if we win the derby,” Materazzi continued. “They are the favourites, they are two points ahead, but we’ll put in our humble shift tomorrow and try to take home the three points.” What kind of derby will it be? A derby with players missing? “I hope it will be the derby of the 22 who take to the field, because the less you notice the ref, the better it means he’s doing his job. It will be a great game if that happens, a great game with a slice of Scudetto resting on it.”
In what is guaranteed to be a hard faught and passionate derby that could go either way i’m going to predict a 2-1 victory for Inter with Sneijder & Pazzini scoring for the Nerazzurri to put us where we belong at the top of the table.