There is not much more football fans in Italy could ask for on Christmas than another edition of hotly-contested Derby della Madonnina between city rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan who lock horns in Coppa Italia quarter-finals on Wednesday night.
Gattuso walking on thin ice
AC Milan played on emotion when they decided to replace a relatively inexperienced Vincenzo Montella with a completely inexperienced Gennaro Gattuso towards the end of November. The fan favourite known for his relentless fighting spirit and no-nonsense attitude was seen as a perfect man to shake things up at struggling AC Milan but he largely failed to meet the club’s expectations.
In four Serie A matches at the helm, Rino Gattuso only registered four points. His side suffered disappointing back-to-back defeats to Verona and Atalanta, respectively, with pressure piling up ahead of another huge test of Rino’s managerial credentials. Having lost the first Derby della Madonnina of the new season back in October (3-2), AC Milan lock horns with their city rivals once more in Coppa Italia quarter-finals after eliminating the Verona side 3-0 in the previous round. Although a secondary competition for the struggling giants this season, Coppa Italia now presents Rossoneri with a huge chance to build self-confidence ad kick-start their stuttering season. Instead of fighting for a place in the top-four and European places, AC Milan are sitting in 11th place in the Serie A standings and a possible win over Inter Milan could prove to be a timely boost that saves Gennaro Gattuso from getting a sack.
AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso will have a full squad to choose from with the exception of right-back Andrea Conti who continues to nurture his cruciate ligament injury. Rino could choose to rotate his squad a bit but should go with the strongest possible line-up.
Are Inter Milan slowing down?
Luciano Spalletti has introduced a number of changes at Inter Milan which transformed Nerazzurri into proper Serie A contenders this season. Unburdened by European competitions and fully focused on domestic exploits, Inter Milan went on a 16-match unbeaten run in the league until mid-December when their fortunes changed with back-to-back defeats to Udinese and Sassuolo, respectively.
Consecutive slumps forced Inter Milan to surrender their leading position and saw both Juventus and Napoli leapfrog them in the standings. Sitting five points away from the top of the table, Nerazzurri head into the Coppa Italia challenge keen to get back to winning ways and regain the momentum. Inter qualified for the Cup quarterfinals thanks to a hard-fought win over lowly Pordenone in the previous round played on 12 December. The Italian minnows held bravely for a goalless draw in normal time but were eliminated after the penalty shootout. Spalletti fielded a combined side back then but is expected to go with the strongest possible line-up for Derby della Madonina this time around.
Inter Milan head coach will, however, have to do without Danilo D’Ambrosio and Miranda who were forced off with injuries against Sassuolo last time out. Inter pair underwent test last week which determined a medial collateral ligament injury and a calf issue, respectively.
Clashes between the two clubs from Milano tend to be openly contested affairs with lots of chances on both ends on the pitch and goals, consequently. There were at least three goals scored in last three encounters between AC Milan and Inter Milan and we fully expect to see another high-scoring match this time around.
Top pick: Both teams to score – yes 1.71 (5/7) @10Bet
Alternative pick 1: Over 2.5 goals 1.90 (9/10) @188bet
Alternative pick 2: Inter Milan 2.25 (5/4) @BetVictor