Milan-Inter department by department. And the challenge between Tonali and Barella lights up the derby

On the one hand the second best defense on the other the best attack, De Vrij in front of Ibra. How many games in a single challenge

M. Pasotto-L. Taidelli

AC Milan to defend and, why not, fortify the leadership. Inter to shorten and return to put the top on the radar. There are many ideas offered by a deluxe, high-profile derby, which on the pitch will experience many challenges in the challenge. Department by department, man against man, starting with two coaches who have known each other for years, when they worked for Lazio and would hardly have thought of finding themselves facing each other on the benches of the two Milanese to compete in a match that smells like a championship. So let’s try to analyze it in detail.

Defense versus attack

With 10 goals conceded, Milan have the second defense of the tournament. And with 28 scored, Inter have the best attack of all. We can start from this simple fact to illustrate the charm of this intersection between departments. The Rossoneri, among other things, had really started watertight: 3 goals conceded in the first six outings, before 7 in the following five. A sign that something is not working as it should in recent times, but obviously not insurmountable problems since the Devil is still undefeated.

There was a triptych of matches in particular – Atalanta, Verona, Bologna – in which Milan have always conceded two goals, only to return to close the door in the last two games (only one goal between Turin and Rome). Sunday evening the central players will be Kjaer and Tomori (the player with the highest playing time in the squad), or the reference couple in the hierarchies of Pioli, although the numerous weeks with three commitments on the calendar also allowed Romagnoli to play a lot. On the right there will be Calabria, on the left the disqualification of Hernandez is a chasm considering the importance of the French international. Ballo-Touré has a messy ankle and his presence is not certain, in case of forfeit Pioli has two options: place Kalulu or move Calabria, with Kalulu on the right.

On the opposite shore Lautaro and Dzeko live a paradox. They remain the drivers of the best attack of the championship, but in the last few games they have not found the door, while Inzaghi with Correa and Sanchez – a sign between Udinese and Sheriff – now has important weapons to clear the deck while the match is in progress. On Sunday, however, Edin and Toro will play. Fresh from being renewed as a top player, the Argentine hasn’t scored from action since 25 September (Atalanta, then the penalty against Sassuolo on 2 October) but he is not the type to be discouraged.

His dirty work never fails and the clash with Tomori and Kjaer promises to be explosive. Dzeko has 7 goals in the league, he has already scored 5 for Milan in the Roma shirt, four of which at Meazza. Dry in the last two – with at least as many goals eaten -, the Bosnian remains vital for how he runs the whole game on the trocar. An advanced playmaker who makes banks, defends the ball, sucks the central to facilitate the insertion of the midfielder and knows how to make himself felt in the aerial game in both areas.

In midfield

The chosen ones apparently should be Tonali and Kessie. As well as in the center of defense, Pioli also has a high-level trio in the median who, race by race, play the two available jerseys. It is the depth of the Rossoneri squad, which this year is particularly evident. Actually in midfield Kessie, Tonali and Bennacer were already there last year, but Tonali was in the apprenticeship phase while this season represented the leap in quality for him. Pioli is alternating the three players wisely according to the matches, according to the athletic condition and the minutes.

A relay race in progress is foreseeable with the entry of Bennacer in place of Franck or, more likely Sandro, who had come out a bit bruised from the Champions League match against Porto. On the other hand, two intense and indefatigable players like Brozovic and Barella have them in a few. The crossing with Tonali and Kessie promises to be incandescent. And it will be important to avoid warnings, because you know how Inzaghi thinks about it. Brozo is the usual screen and will have to look good Diaz (or Krunic), as well as start the action. But the problem will also be for the opponent, because the Croatian also knows how to fit in.

If with the Sheriff he found his first goal in the Champions League, in the derbies he scored twice, for as many victories. With Darmian and Perisic almost confident on the flanks, the left half-winger remains to be decided. Until yesterday the presence of the former Calhanoglu seemed obvious (what welcome for him?), But the Vidal of Tiraspol raises doubts. Aggressive, lucid, evil and the right one capable of proposing himself: the prototype of the player who will serve in the Meazza ring.

Attack versus defense

In the name of turnover, Ibra will take the scene back. On the other hand, this week’s management had been clearly filtered by Milanello for a few days: Zlatan in the league, Giroud in the Champions League. With a more or less obliged relay not only to vary the score a little, but also because neither of them has 90 minutes in their legs yet. The Swede, however, is in clear athletic improvement, just go and review the game with Roma, which Z has more or less knocked down on his own. Behind him, the trio of attacking midfielders should be made up of Saelemaekers, Diaz and Leao, the usual suspects.

With the Belgian and Portuguese forced in particular to overtime because the infirmary has removed practically all the alternatives. Behind Ibra, however, there is a question mark: headlights on on Diaz, who returned after a month of absence after Covid and appeared rather rusty against Porto, or a starting shirt in Krunic? In the Inter defense it should be up to the “usual” Skriniar, De Vrij and Bastoni. The doubt is on the latter, because if Calha does not play, Inzaghi lacks a kicker and therefore Dimarco’s prices rise. De Vrij is destined to deal with Ibra, one of the few against whom he has suffered in the past in the aerial game.

Defender of readings, the Dutchman will need the help of his comrades in the ward. But the same goes for Skriniar, to whom Darmian will have to give due cover with Leao, decisive in the only AC Milan victory in the last six derbies. Sticks or Dimarco could have less problems with Saelemaekers, offensive winger of balance. After the knockout with Lazio, the whole Inter defensive phase has grown a lot. The only goals conceded in the last 5 outings came from direct free-kick, penalty and a set header. Air play will be a deciding factor. Inter have often blown their heads, but Milan have kilos, centimeters and experience to withstand the impact even in a high-altitude derby.

Tonali against Barella

Young, talented and with a (very broad) perspective. Also in a national key, where Sandro has recently been particularly followed by Mancini and where Nicolò has already started a bright blue career. Tonali against Barella is a hymn to Italian talent. Both are essential players in the balance of Pioli and Inzaghi. Both fans of the teams they play for. For Sandro, a new situation, passed from an anonymous and difficult to deal with in mental terms last season to the current one in which he freed himself from all the burdens and uncertainties.

If a year ago the lighthouse of the median was Kessie, in Milan 2021-22 he is the Rossoneri navel. Particularly skilled in the non-possession phase, with an average of 5.18 balls recovered per match, against 3.69 of the league average in the role. But also effective in the offensive phase, with 2 goals and an assist in the league. Barella is the soul of Inter, the future captain who will soon sign a contract suited to his exponential growth. He and his roommate Brozovic Inzaghi will never give up. Combining quality with quantity is art for a few and Nicolò is now a guarantee. Because he enters into a thousand things in the game, he knows how to attack the opponent and then start again. Now that he has learned to manage himself and that he also knows how to finish (already 5 assists in the league) he only needs a few more goals to become an absolute crack.

Barella overflows in games, with averages well outside those of the role. From the balls recovered (4.18 against 3.69) to those lost (another aspect to work on, being 12.64 against 8.13), Barella is always above average. For a mezzala who runs for two, this start of the season impresses the work in the opponent’s half. In addition to providing 0.45 assists per game (the average role says 0.09), shooting once per game (the other 0.36), it now creates almost two chances from goal to exit: 1.82 against 0, 83. On Sunday against Udinese in the first half alone he sought the goal with 7 conclusions (2 in the mirror). He will have less freedom against Milan, but he would like to put a goal in the derby on the bulletin board.

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Milan-Inter department by department. And the challenge between Tonali and Barella lights up the derby

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