Here we are just days before Inter take on AC Milan in the 2011 Italian Super Cup at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. The match, which will be shown live on RaiUno in Italy, kicks off at 20:00 local time (14:00 CET) on Saturday 6 August or for those like me that live outside of Italy you can find live streams of the match online at FreeFootball.org or at Free Live Sports TV. With the Derby della Madonnina in Serie A not coming till the 18th week (Jan 15th 2012), i’m thankful for this years Supercup being against our cross town rivals, even though it won’t be played at the Meazza, as that is a long time to have to wait for one of the highlights of the Calcio calender.
A few people have asked me whether I think the atmosphere during the match will be as intense as a normal Derby and I would have to say that I don’t see why it wouldn’t be, there have been rumours over the last few weeks that the Curva Nord and the Curva Sud won’t be making the trip to China, which in my opinion would be a shame, but even so judging by the welcome Inter received upon arrival in China i’d say there’s no danger of there not being a great atmosphere for the event.
After a ten hour flight, about 5000 miles (8000 Kilometers) from Paris the squad arrived in China to be greeted by hundreds of Chinese Interista both outside the airport and the team hotel, which must have given the team a great boost after such a long flight. Upon arrival Wesley Sneijder stopped to speak to the Chinese media “This is the first time I’ve set foot here in China: it’s an honour for me and I’m excited about it, we’re here for a very important match and it’s a special game for two reasons: because we’re in China and because it’s a derby. I’m convinced Inter can do well here and I’ll do everything I can to make sure that happens. We want to win. We’re here to win it,” The Nerazzurri midfielder is still being linked with a move away from the club this summer but this statement shows he’s still committed to winning trophies with Inter. A few hours later captain Javier Zanetti, who has cut short his summer break to cover for the injured Nagatomo, and club ‘Foreign minister’ Luis Figo arrived at the same airport on a flight from Italy to be greeted by the large crowd of chinese fans wanting to show their love for our great team. After his first training session back with the team our captain Zanetti spoke to Inter Channel “I’m back and ready for service. I came running as soon as I got the call,” as always ‘Pupi’ showed his undying commitment to Inter “After we got knocked out of the Copa America we spoke to Gasperini and told him we were available if Inter needed us. He just said that it would be better for us to have a rest after all our exertions so that we wouldn’t run any risks and would be able to give the best of ourselves going into the busy season that lies ahead. We agreed with that. Of course, if it becomes necessary to change the plans then you do so, and it wasn’t a problem.”
Around lunch time on their first day in China came the first press conference of the week and Gasperini was joined by Andrea Ranocchia and new boy Ricky Alvarez. “I don’t have a crystal ball but we’re here to try and win this so that Inter can take home the trophy they missed out on two years ago. And playing against AC Milan makes the event even more prestigious.” replied Gasperini when asked whether Inter could achieve what they missed out on two years ago here against Lazio, he was also asked what he felt was the biggest differences between his current club and his previous club Genoa to which he stated the biggest difference was the importance of the Inter team and that this appointment was a huge step forward in his coaching career. Then after denying that there is any ‘problem’ (as the Chinese media called it) with Sneijder and confirming that the Dutchman will be playing on Saturday. The topic moved on to the importance of this year’s Italian Super Cup in China: “It’s an advert for Italian football and also for football in China.” Then Finally, Gasperini commented on the date of the fixture, which meant he’s without some of the players who are having a late holiday after their exertions in the Copa America: “The date forced us to bring things forward a bit, begin our preparations earlier and make certain sacrifices so that we could respect all our commitments while remaining at a very high level. We will be competitive and we’ll be able to give a good account of ourselves even if we are missing a few players.”
During the press conference Ricky Alvarez gave a statement that will have pleased Interista around the world and also honoured the Chinese nation “It’s a hugely important achievement for me to be playing for Inter, and it’s an honour to be representing the club in China. I hope that Inter can do well in this Super Cup, in fact I’m sure they can and my team-mates and I will do everything we can to achieve success here. We’re extremely determined. Inter and China together is a union to be respected, because this country deserves respect,” Ranocchia also had only good things to say about China when journalists pointed out it wasn’t his first time in their country “There has been a lot of development in China compared to when I came here for the 2008 Olympics, and it’s great to see so much progress being made,” “The Olympics was an unforgettable experience and I’m sure I’ll be able to say the same about this new experience,” Inter’s number 23 rounded off with a smile.
So What can we look forward to on Saturday?
This will not be a quiet match by any standards, not that Milan derbies ever are! This will be the first competitive match of the season for both teams so things are likely to get very interesting during the course of the game and I can see there being a few goals by the end of it. The squads have been announced and Milan seemed to have recalled their south Americans early to play this match where as Inter have only had Julio Cesar and Javier Zanetti return both of which are only because of injuries to Viviano and Nagatomo. So who will be lining up for each on Saturday? I’ll start with Milan as i have less to say about them with me being an Interisti.
|Predicted Milan Lineup
I think Milan will play formation of 4-3-3 which worked well for them last season, the squad selected by Allegri is –
Goalkeepers: Abbiati, Amelia & Roma
Defenders: Abate, Antonini, Bonera, Nesta, Taiwo, Silva, Zambrotta, Yepes & De Sciglio
Midfielders: Ambrosini, Boateng, Emanuelson, Gattuso, Seedorf, Van Bommel & Valoti
Attackers: Cassano, Ibrahimovic, Paloschi, Pato & Robinho
(I don’t understand why Taiwo is included as he is suspended for this match)
On the left you will see my pridicted starting line up for Milan, I apologise if anyone is out of position or a prefered player is missing but as i say i’m an Interisti so i’m not completely clued up on the in’s and out’s of the Milan team, but I will admit that they have got a strong squad that are capable of capitalizing on any mistakes we might make.
|Predicted Inter 3-4-3 Starting Lineup
Gasperini’s squad for the match are –
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar, Castellazzi, Orlandoni.
Defenders: Cordoba, Caldirola, Ranocchia, Walter Samuel, Chivu, Faraoni, Santon, Bianchetti, Zanetti, Natalino.
Midfielders: Stankovic, Thiago Motta, Sneijder, Alvarez, Mariga, Obi, Crisetig, Muntari.
Attackers: Pazzini, Eto’o, Pandev, Castaignos.
It seems likely that Gasperini will start the match with his favoured 3-4-3 formation, which I believe would be a mistake not just because I dislike this formation as I explained in my last article
but also because I think my theory will be proved right when put up against three fast forwards in the shape of Milan’s front line, meaning that at least two of our four man midfield would spend most of their time helping the defensive line which in turn means our midfield will be over run and not able to give the supply to our forward three. On the right is my predicted starting lineup for this formation, I think that Gasperini will opt for Pandev in the RF position over Alvarez, though i’d be surprised if we don’t see Ricky before the end of the match.
|Predicted Inter 4-3-3 Lineup
The other option for us will be a 4-3-3 formation that will mirror that of Milan, it is fairly likely that even if we start with the 3-4-3 by the end Gasperini will have seen sense and switched to the four man defence. If you look at my predicted line up for the 4-3-3 formation you can see straight away that the structure looks a lot more solid, with a strong back line that is covered by Motta in the CM position who also plays as the deep playmaker sending the ball to either Sneijder or Alvarez that will provide the creativity for the forward line to do what they do best, well what Eto’o and Pazzini do best, my Twitter followers will know that i’m not Pandev’s biggest fan, but Gasperini seems to like him so he’ll be favourite to start ahead of Castaignos. Though Luc is another player that we’re likely to see on the pitch before the end.
So how do I see the match going? I would love to say that Inter will walk all over Milan but times have changed, as shown last season when Milan beat us in both derbies and took the Scudetto, and realistically we have to remember not only is this Gasperini’s first competitive match in charge of the Nerazzurri but it’s also his first Milan derby so he is under a lot of pressure especially from the Interista ranks, I do think this will be a close and competitive match with plenty of excitement and goals so i’m going to predict that Inter will win 3-2 with the match possibly being decided in extra time. My prediction for the goal scorers will be Ibrahimovic and Pato for Milan and Eto’o, Pazzini and Sneijder for Inter. If the rumours are true and we are going to lose Wesley soon then winning the Supercup will be a fitting send off for a man who in a very short time has become one of the best midfielders we’ve ever been lucky enough to have in our ranks and also a legend of the 2010 ‘La Grande Inter’.