Only three weeks into the Serie A season, and one of the biggest events in European soccer is upon us: the Derby della Madonnina. The two Milanese teams face off Sunday at 2:45 PM ET for the 214th time in what will surely be an indicator of the progress made by both teams after busy off-seasons.
Roberto Mancini’s Inter squad has earned a perfect six points from the first two matches of the year, thanks to two late goals from newcomer Stevan Jovetic. New Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, who played for Inter and has managed several Italian clubs, didn’t enjoy such a great start to the season. Rodrigo Ely was red-carded in the first-half and the Rossoneri never recovered, losing 2-0. They bounced back and won against Empoli, setting up the huge early-season battle at the San Siro.
The Nerazzurri are a very different squad from a year ago, with the likes of Hernanes, Xherdan Shaqiri and Mateo Kovacic all moving on and Geoffrey Kondogbia, Ivan Perisic, Miranda, Adem Ljajic (among others) replacing them. Milan also spent big this summer, bringing in highly rated Italian center back Alessio Romagnoli and Colombian forward Carlos Bacca, as Mario Balotelli.
Milan will have their work cut out for them trying to defend Jovetic, who looks extremely comfortable already for Inter, as well as his strike partner Mauro Icardi, the joint-top scorer from last season who Mancini claims is healthy and will play after suffering a knock against Atalanta.
The match is a great test for both teams early on in their seasons to see what has worked and what needs to change, not to mention a chance for early-season bragging rights.
Did you know:
The “Milan Derby” is called the “Derby della Madonnina” because of the small statue of the Virgin Mary at the top of the famous Duomo in the center of the city. Madonnina means “little Mary” in Italian.
Inter leads the all-time rivalry, winning 76 times to Milan’s 74. There have been 63 draws.
There hasn’t been a winner in the derby since May 2014, after both matches last year ended in draws.
This will be Sinisa Mihajlovic’s first derby as a member of the Rossoneri; he played and was an assistant coach for Inter.
Over the past decade, the biggest margin of defeat came on August 29, 2009, when Inter won 4-0.