Lukaku the great absent, De Ketelaere's debut, Leao challenges Lautaro ... The derby in 5 points

Lukaku the great absent, De Ketelaere’s debut, Leao challenges Lautaro … The derby in 5 points

Here we are: before the derby of the Meazza, here’s what the thermometer of the teams that have won the last two championships marks. In five points

Stefano Cantalupi – Matteo Nava

Stefano Pioli on one side and Simone Inzaghi on the other. Then 22 players on the pitch, at least at Daniele Chiffi’s kick-off. Every detail will weigh, as always, in the first Serie A 2022-2023 derby. Body, mind, new faces: the two coaches had a few days to prepare for a very delicate match and some unexpected events also got in the way. However, the time for talk is about to end and the finishing touches are the last stage that the two teams have to face before the 90-minute sprint, plus recovery. In five points, here’s how Milan and Inter are.


Two-faced Inter, Rossoneri already on the ball


Il Diavolo has problems with injuries just as happened at the beginning of last season: Origi, Tonali, Rebic, Krunic and Florenzi have already accused physical problems of greater or lesser entity in these summer months. The overall athletic condition of the team, however, is good. Stefano Pioli, moreover, said it very clearly: “The presence of the World Cup in the calendar did not make us change preparation compared to last year, the loads to which we subjected the players are essentially the same. Tonali – also for away from the injury – he still doesn’t have the pace he had in the spring, but the other owners are in good physical shape and guarantee the intensity that is Milan’s trademark. “


The athletic condition of Inzaghi’s team is improving, but it is not yet at the top. It depends a little from player to player, as some have shown themselves in great shape and others are still growing. Nicolò Barella and Denzel Dumfries, for example, already appear at the top and for this reason the right-hand chain of the midfield will be a strong point of the Nerazzurri, despite an uncomfortable neighbor like Theo Hernandez. Marcelo Brozovic is late in condition, far from brilliant against Cremonese, and in general the defense, which has yet to regroup to protect Samir Handanovic as it happened almost systematically in recent seasons. In particular, Alessandro Bastoni’s after-effects of fever could weigh.

Mental condition

Frantic Milan, serene Inter


The downside of the Rossoneri’s first outings of the season, rather surprisingly, was the attitude of the team. Not always, in truth, but something was missing from the point of view of the mental approach, especially in the match in Reggio Emilia with Sassuolo. It is not a question of commitment: the desire to honor the title of Italian champions is there and it shows. If anything, the problem is to be identified precisely in the too much enthusiasm to get to victory, which sometimes took away the clarity in the choices and interpretation of the races. Apart from this, confidence in one’s own means has now been acquired in the Rossoneri locker room: winning a championship brings self-esteem to a thousand, it is not surprising.


Also in this case we cannot speak of a peak of condition, but undoubtedly the head at Inter has every reason to be concentrated and ravenous. Some cracks in the first four games were seen, but the defeat at Lazio was swept away – in the drawer of memories – by the immediate redemption against Cremonese. Above all, the transfer market is over. And, with it, the distractions that have seen Milan Skriniar and Robin Gosens protagonists of assaults from abroad. And it also goes for Inzaghi, who finally had his reserve defender who understandably soured his post-match statements.


Lukaku weighs, Rebic is one less weapon


Losing Rebic and Florenzi in one fell swoop is a great damage for Pioli. The Croatian was in a state of grace and the blue full-back is a man of experience capable of making an impact in a derby even by entering a match in progress (he would hardly have started as a starter). Both, then, are multi-role players: Rebic occupies the left side of the attack but also knows how to play the center forward, Florenzi covers the entire right wing and if necessary even moves to the opposite side of the defense. The absence of Ibrahimovic was obvious, that of the other joker Krunic as well, while Origi was recovered in time. Having trained in a group only a couple of times, however, the Belgian striker is only running for a remnant of the game in the second half.


A name, but one of those that matter. Romelu Lukaku will be the great absentee of Giuseppe Meazza, protagonist of the cumbersome void that will be perceived at the moment of the announcement of the formations. Against Cremonese Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa sent encouraging signals to the coach and on the other hand, last year Lautaro Martinez already collaborated with the Bosnian and his compatriot as team mates in the derbies. Indeed, the downside of the loss of the most threatening player offensively is that the construction site in attack can remain pending: the mechanics seen and reviewed in Inzaghi’s first year must be dusted off, regardless of who will be chosen by the coach.

The key men

Leao turns up the volume, Lautaro paws


A handful of matches were enough to raise discussions around Rafael Leao: the monstrous performance of the Portuguese in the spring was not enough to shelter him from the criticism of the most demanding fans. “He seems listless”, “he leaves the game too easily”, “he is distracted by the renewal affair”, and so on. All very ungenerous, he must be said. Leao remains the man who makes Milan change gears, the strongest in one-on-one. And with Hernandez he forms one of the most dangerous offensive aces in Europe. In the big matches he has not always convinced, yes: one more reason to demonstrate that he has made a further step of maturation.


The index can only fall on Lautaro’s card, who is traveling at a pace never seen in his career if he is also considered in the final of last season. The Bull he also hit on Tuesday even though he started from the bench and, given the absence of Lukaku, the weight of the attack and probably of the team can only rest on his shoulders. In great form, he should not underestimate the “release” factor. The last two times he has scored in the derby (Serie A 2020/21 in the second round and second semi-final of the Italian Cup in April), he has unleashed two braces on his Rossoneri cousins. And, in both cases, Inter won 3-0.

The new entries

The Nerazzurri jokers, Kakà’s heir


“Charles De Ketelaere remembers Kakà”. Open up heaven. There are those who speak of blasphemy, those who cry out at the absurd comparison, those who simply would like to avoid the pressure of such a heavy legacy to the 21-year-old Belgian. CDK, however, will do well to quickly get used to the media blender that has always stirred Serie A: the 35 million invested for the card and the long courtship at Bruges to bring him to the Rossoneri always keep him in the spotlight. Beyond expectations and expectations, De Ketelaere will play an important role in this derby: starting from “10” (even if the number is on Diaz’s shoulders) on his debut, not a trivial matter. And the other new faces? Origi has a few minutes of quality to give, Adli and Pobega will sit next to him on the bench with a chance to enter, less likely to see even a single minute of Dest, Thiaw and Vranckx.


Lukaku, unfortunately for Inzaghi, is not there. The Belgian, returning, is the real leading name of Inter, but in this first derby of the championship the brand new weapons in the Nerazzurri arsenal will come from the bench. And check the midfield item, a department that the coach often and willingly puts his hand to in the second half. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has recovered even if he has not yet been deployed after the injury, Kristjan Asllani grinded the first few minutes and Raoul Bellanova made his debut at San Siro on Tuesday, against Cremonese. The Armenian is probably the most dangerous man among Inzaghi’s alternatives in the second half, as well as being a footballer who can turn the cards tactically and in episodes. The others, on the other hand, have shown that they have excellent perspectives and personalities: it is better to keep an eye on them.

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