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Previewing Inter vs. AC Milan

 

The Milan derby combines history, rivalry and a uniquely shared stadium, to create one of the greatest fixtures in the football calendar. Using Stats Perform’s Opta data, we preview the clash between the two Italian giants.

By: Edoardo Donati

A Derby With Added Pressure

Saturday will be the 173rd Milan Derby played in Italian Serie A history, with Inter hoping to build on their all-time victory advantage of 66-51 at La Scala del Calcio this weekend.

The Nerazzurri come into the game with the psychological upper-hand, having won their last four Serie A meetings against rivals Milan – they’ve only had a longer winning streak in the Milan Derby between 1979-1983 when they secured five wins on the trot.

Should they make it five in succession this Saturday, then it will also mean that Antonio Conte would become the first coach in Inter history to win their first three derbies versus Milan in all competition as a coach.

After several barren years, both sides can head into the derby full of optimism.

Only Atalanta (56) have won more points than Milan (54) and Inter (47) in 2020 so far, while the Rossoneri have kept a league-high 10 clean sheets and conceded fewer goals (22) than all 17 ever-present Serie A sides this calendar year.

In attack, these two rivals have been the most prolific teams in front of goal in Serie A since football returned following lockdown, scoring 42 goals each. In 2020 as a whole, only Atalanta (68) have scored more goals than both the Milan sides.

Out of the Blocks

The two Milan clubs have enjoyed an excellent start to the season, and both remain unbeaten coming into matchday four.

Inter have won two and drawn one of their three matches in Serie A so far in 2020/21 and have scored 10 goals, their highest tally within the first three games of a season since the 1966/67 season. Manager Antonio Conte will also be hoping to remain unbeaten in his opening four matches in a Serie A season should he avoid defeat in this derby – he has never lost a game in the competition within the opening four matchdays before.

Milan have won each of their opening three Serie A games this season – the last time that they won their first four matches in a top-flight league season was back in 1995/96, under Fabio Capello.

The Rossoneri’s current scoring streak of 23 league games in a row is their best since 1973, and they haven’t conceded a goal now for four Serie A matches, last having a longer run of clean sheets back in 2006.

A Battle of Young vs. Old

Inter are already in the advanced phase of their project – namely their desire for winning silverware in the here and now, while conversely, AC Milan are trying to close the gap on their Serie A rivals by nurturing and building a young squad, with the aim of competing for Champions League football.

Inter Milan Squad Age Matrix

Milan Squad Age Matrix

From the transfer window, it seems that Inter tried to buy experience and have already got established profiles such as Arturo Vidal, Aleksandar Kolarov and Achraf Hakimi within their squad. AC Milan, on the other hand, are continuing the Elliott model of ​​acquiring young promise with room to grow, acquiring talents like Sandro Tonali, Brahim Díaz and Jens Petter Hauge.

Looking at all players to appear for clubs in Serie A 2020/21, AC Milan have the youngest side on average (23 years, 271 days) by nearly two years. Inter have the 17th oldest side on average, with their average selection aged 28 years & 273 days.

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In their most recent match against Spezia, Milan became the first team to play a single match with seven of their starting XI born since Jan. 1st 1999 across the top five European leagues.

Indeed, their average age against Spezia was the youngest seen in Serie A since 2004/05 at 22 years and 287 days.

Clash of the Titans

Looking at current Serie A players, no player has more goals in Derby della Madonnina than Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Swede has six goals in the fixture overall, with four coming for current side Milan and two whilst with opponents Inter – only seven players have scored more in the derby in the Italian top-flight with the record belonging to the legendary Giuseppe Meazza (12 goals).

Ibra is the only player in Serie A history to have scored at least 50 goals both with Milan and Inter, having scored 57 goals in black and blue – three more than he currently has with Milan (54).

Milan are one of four teams that Romelu Lukaku scored against both home and away in the league last season and the Rossoneri could become the first side to concede goals against the Belgian in three separate Serie A games.

Ibra v Lukaku

So far in 2020, both Lukaku (14 goals) and Ibrahimovic (12 goals) appear within the top six goalscorers in Serie A. Lukaku has the superior shot conversion rate overall, with his 24% above Ibrahimovic’s 16%, which could be explained by looking at their respective shot selections in the expected goals (xG) maps below.

Overall in 2020, Lukaku has been able to get into better positions to take open play shots than his opponent. The Belgian’s shots have had an average xG of 0.17, suggesting the ‘average’ player should be expected to convert the chances he’s been presented with 17% of the time – compared to Ibrahimovic’s average of 0.13 per shot.

The Maldini Dynasty Continues

19-year-old midfielder Daniel Maldini could become the third Maldini generation to play in a Milan derby, after grandfather Cesare and Father Paolo.

Paolo Maldini holds the record of most Milan derbies played in all competitions (56).

Most Milan Derby Appearances 

RankPlayerTeamDerby Appearances
1Paolo MaldiniMilan56
2Javier ZanettiInter47
3Giuseppe BergomiInter44
4Alessandro CostacurtaMilan43
5Gianni RiveraMilan42

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