Football Previews

Inter v AC Milan predictions: Antonio Conte to make derby history?

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:34, 16 October 2020

The 2020/21 season’s first meeting between Inter Milan and AC Milan looks set to be a big one.

Both sides are enjoying unbeaten starts to the new Serie A campaign. Milan are one of the Italian top flight’s two remaining ‘perfect’ teams while Inter’s 100% win-rate record was broken by a draw with Lazio just before the international break.

But when the Milan Derby comes around, form is often removed from the equation. So what can you expect from the latest instalment of the Derby della Madonnina?

1. Predicted Inter lineup:

Antonio Conte’s side have no fewer than six players set to miss Saturday’s game through fitness issues: Roberto Gagliardini, Radja Nainggolan, Ashley Young, Milan Skriniar, Ionut Radu and Alessandro Bastoni. Bastoni could still return to the bench, however.

And that’s not all. Inter will miss Stefano Sensi due to his red card against Lazio prior to the international break, picked up less than 20 minutes after coming on as a substitute. That may actually make things slightly easier for Conte (and us) in terms of picking his starting XI. We can expect Achraf Hakimi and Ivan Perisic to start at wing-back while Aleksandar Kolarov could be the one to replace Milan Skriniar in defence.

2. Predicted Milan lineup:

Milan have fewer absences, but arguably more impactful ones.

Ante Rebic remains a doubt after he dislocated his elbow in the win over Crotone and is not expected to return in time for Saturday. He has now been joined on the sidelines by Matteo Gabbia and Leo Duarte, which poses a big problem for Milan; they only have one fit centre-back.

In the absence of Alessio Romagnoli and Mateo Musacchio, Matteo Gabbia has been partnering Simon Kjaer at the heart of Milan’s defence, and it’s been working. The Rossoneri are one of only two sides yet to concede in Serie A this season.

But who will partner Kjaer in central defence against Inter? Fortunately for AC Milan, Romagnoli has returned to fitness and looks set be thrown straight into the fray, when Stefano Pioli may have preferred to ease him in.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also back and expected to lead the line, while Franck Kessie may return to the starting XI having been replaced by Sandro Tonali in the win over Spezia.

3. Romelu Lukaku to haunt Milan again

Milan may be yet to concede in Serie A but the presence of a less-than-match-fit Romagnoli could finally see their defence breached. And the man most likely to do that is Romelu Lukaku.

In 54 appearances for Inter so far across all competitions, Lukaku has scored 37 goals, including 26 in Serie A. Two of those came against Milan last season, scoring in each of the derbies at the San Siro. Milan were just one of four teams against whom Lukaku scored in both league matches last season, and they could become the first side to concede against the Belgian in three Serie A games.

Based on Lukaku’s current form, that looks likely. The Belgian has three league goals so far this season, one against Fiorentina and two away to Benevento; only Lazio have prevented him from scoring.

Lukaku also carried that form into the international break, scoring from the spot in Belgium’s Nations League defeat to England and thereby extending his lead as the country’s all-time top goalscorer.

Relevant odds from William Hill:

  • Romelu Lukaku to score first @ 7/2
  • Romelu Lukaku to score anytime @ 11/10

You have to be 18+ to gamble. All odds and offers within this article are accurate at the time of publication (17:30, 16/10/2020). BeGambleAware

4. Hakan Calhanoglu to be Milan’s biggest threat

Ibrahimovic’s return to lead the line will be a big boost for Milan but how the big Swede fares will be reliant on the performance of Hakan Calhanoglu.

The Turkish midfielder has been Milan’s most creative player in Serie A so far this season, creating eight chances and recording one assist. This is a continuation of his electric post-restart form. After the league resumed in June, Calhanoglu scored six goals and assisted another eight in 12 league appearances. His set-piece delivery makes Milan a serious threat in any game, as long as they win corners and free kicks in dangerous positions.

Rebic’s absence may also see Calhanoglu play closer to Ibrahimovic while Samu Castillejo and Alexis Saelemaekers provide width.

Relevant odds from William Hill:

  • Hakan Calhanoglu to score first @ 7/1
  • Hakan Calhanoglu to score anytime @ 23/10

5. Antonio Conte to make history with Inter win

Milan have enjoyed the slightly better start to the new season and Inter have been hit by absences. But when it comes to the Derby della Madonnina, Inter usually win.

The Nerazzurri have won their last four Serie A games against Milan, a run only bettered when they claimed five straight wins between 1979 and 1983. They are also unbeaten in nine Serie A games against Milan as the home side (though both obviously share San Siro), one away from their all-time record.

Then there’s the Antonio Conte effect. Inter genuinely challenged for the Serie A title in 2019/20 after his appointment where they previously had to settle for also-ran status. It was the latest step for Inter on their journey back to the top of Italian football, having fallen from the top four in the early 2010s.

Milan are hoping to follow Inter in that journey but, despite their good start to the campaign, Pioli’s side are at a different stage. Last season they finished sixth, the seventh consecutive year in which the seven-time European champions failed to secure Champions League qualification.

These are positive times for Milan, and they are on the right path. But once again we expect Inter to be too big of a task, particularly with Conte chasing history. Having won both matches against Milan last season, he is looking to become the first coach in Inter’s history to win their first three derbies.

Relevant odds from William Hill:

Inter Milan to win @ 13/10


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