Match in a sentence
AC Milan fail to increase the gap between themselves and city rivals Inter Milan, as Andrea Stramaccioni’s half time changes earned his side a valuable point in the Derby della Madonnina.
- Stramaccioni fielded his side in a 4-4-2 with Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio leading the line. Fredy Guarin and Ricky Alvarez played on the flanks, while Esteban Cambiasso and Walter Gargano marshaled the midfield.
- Fresh off their historic 2-0 win against Barcelona, Massimiliano Allegri opted to go with a 4-3-3. Mario Balotelli led the line with Stephane El Shaarawy and Kevin-Prince Boateng on the flanks. Allegri’s midfield three consisted of Riccardo Montolivo, Sulley Muntari and Antonio Nocerino.
- Inter was looking to bounce back from a 4-1 drubbing by Fiorentina last week, but unfortunately for Stramaccioni’s men, the onslaught on Inter continued. Milan mirrored Fiorentina’s approach in attacking Inter by targeting Inter’s right hand side. El Shaarawy’s movement and diagonal runs dragged Yuto Nagatomo central, literally making him a third centreback. This was key because it allowed Montolivo and Muntari to play balls to the advancing Mattia De Sciglio. De Sciglio provided width to Milan’s play and created several chances, because Guarin was unable to track his runs.
- Another narrative in the half was the space in between the lines. Inter’s midfield two in Cambiasso and Gargano were forced to pressure Milan’s midfield three, and with Inter’s backline failing to get forward, that left space for players like Balotelli to drop into. Inter was vulnerable to overloads not only on the left hand side, but also in the midfield. Boateng would occasionally drift into the midfield and in between the lines, which allowed Milan to take control of the game.
- The space available in between the lines was key to Milan’s opening goal. Cristian Zapata dispossessed Cassano, and Boateng was able to pick up the ball in between the lines. Boateng then played in El Shaarawy, who precisely slotted his shot past a superb Handanovic.
- Milan frankly should’ve been a few goals up, because they were by far the superior side. Unfortunately, the Rossonieri ran into a hot goalkeeper by the name of Samir Handanovic. Handanovic made three fantastic saves on Balotelli, to deny Milan the opportunity to increase their lead.
- It was a disappointing half from Inter, and Stramaccioni’s only change was to go back to his initial setup, which meant Javier Zanetti and Nagatomo swapped flanks. The change nullified Milan’s main threat in the first half, which was De Sciglio’s width. It also allowed Nagatomo to get forward, and provide width.
- In the 68th minute, Stramaccioni brought on Ezequiel Schelotto to play out wide and he pushed Guarin into the midfield. Three minutes later Stamaccioni was rewarded as Schelotto met Nagatomo’s cross, and Christian Abbiati could only watch it soar into the net. Prior to the goal Inter looked threatening as Guarin was drifting centrally, linking up with Cassano. Milan despite controlling possession was flat in the second half, as fatigue began to kick in.
- Inter dropped into a 4-1-4-1 pushing Palacio out wide and introducing Zdravko Kuzmanovic to sit deep. Stramaccioni’s side attacked with caution as Milan continued to dictate the game in terms of possession. Both sides had chances to claim a winner late on, but were unsuccessful.
- It was a game of two halves that saw Milan dominate a first half, where they frankly should’ve been up by a few goals. Stramaccioni’s side came out aggressive and motivated in the second half, and the Italian gaffer’s changes paid off to earn his side a valuable point. Handanovic’s saves proved to be vital, but Milan wasn’t clinical in front of goal and that gave Inter a lifeline.
- Both sides seemed fatigued after midweek fixtures in Europe, but out of the two sides, Inter should be worried. The race for a Champions League spot might go down to the wire this season as the gap between 3rd-8th place is five points. Failure to stay consistent during this final stretch of the season will be crucial if these sides intend on playing in Europe’s elite competition next year.
1. Samir Handanovic
2. Stephane El Shaarawy
3. Riccardo Montolivo
Honourable mention to Mattia De Sciglio