Italy’s papers have understandably focused on this weekend’s Milan derby over the International Break, with La Gazzetta dello Sport naming the fixture between AC Milan and Inter the “Derby Mondiale”, reflecting the multinational makeup of the two sides.
Arturo Vidal, Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez were picked as the Global stars for the Nerazzurri, while Milan’s foreign contingent of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Franck Kessie and Hakan Calhanoglu were also highlighted by the famous pink newspaper.
In other news, Cristiano Ronaldo will miss the weekend’s action due to testing positive for COVID-19 whilst on international duty with Portugal.
Serie A Match of the Round: Inter vs AC Milan
With both Milan sides in form for the first time in a long time, this edition of the Derby della Madonnina is not to be missed. The Nerazzurri are the nominal home side on Saturday, and although they have been utterly dominant in recent times – remaining unbeaten in all six of their last home fixtures versus their cross-city rivals – Milan are resurgent under the tutelage of Coach Stefano Pioli of late.
They sit joint-top of the Serie A table with three wins from their opening three encounters this season, and were unbeaten in the 12 league matches played after the restart last term. That means that their last defeat was way back on March 8th, and they will certainly be looking to give Antonio Conte a stern test this time around.
“The gap with Inter has been reduced, because the club was so smart on the transfer market, even though naturally they too have strengthened over the summer,” star Rossoneri goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma told Sky Italia this week.“The Coach is doing great things, now it’s our chance to prove on the field that we’re closer to Inter. We can’t wait to step out there and show what we can do.”
Best of the Rest
This weekend sees Serie A return with a bang, as a hotly-anticipated fixture between Napoli and Atalanta kicks off the action on Saturday afternoon.
Andrea Pirlo faces further scrutiny as a rookie boss at Juventus when they host struggling Crotone on Saturday night. The former midfielder will have to construct his side without CR7, but could well hand a debut to new signing Federico Chiesa after the former Fiorentina winger joined the club on deadline day.
Elsewhere, Roma supporters will likely be made to wait to see the return of Chris Smalling to their starting lineup due to injury, as they host plucky newcomers Benevento at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night.
Serie A Player to Watch: Hakan Calhanoglu – AC Milan – £2.44
After a fairly average start to life at San Siro, Turkish attacker Hakan Calhanoglu has burst into life of late. During his last 12 matches with AC Milan, the 26-year-old has contributed a huge amount to his side’s good form, contributing in 17 goals (eight goals and nine assists) during that time.
“A lot of the credit goes to him, he’s a generous player with high quality, he works for the team,” Pioli told DAZN after Calhanoglu scored twice in the Europa League third qualifying round versus Bodo/Glimt back in September. “It’s difficult to always expect two goals but I expect this type of performance. He’s an exceptional guy, he has the qualities to become the protagonist of the side.”
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