Derby della Madonnina, two teams in transition and diminished signicance

The clash between AC Milan and Internazionale is certainly one of Italian football’s standout fixtures, with the bitter local rivals locking horns over the last 105 years.

The Derby della Madonnina encounter has always evoked venom in opposing supporters, with the respective sides seemingly never far away from the summit of the top flight.

Between them, the Milan rivals have lifted the Scudetto on a combined 36 occasions – 18 times each.

However, ahead of today’s meeting at the Giuseppe Meazza, the clash between Inter and Milan has reduced significance on the pitch.

This is due to the fact that both sides have seen their squads diminished and depleted over reason years, and neither is looking like being crowned as Italy’s top team again any time soon.

Ahead of the game, Inter sit in fifth and are already 15 points behind Serie A leaders Juventus. Milan are toiling and are in 12th after 16 games; i Rossoneri have only won four games this term and sit six points above the relegation places.

Inter’s last Scudetto came back in 2009-10, marking their dominance over Italian football with their fifth title in a row. In a momentous campaign, i Nerazzurri also won the Coppa Italia and the Champions League under José Mourinho.

Since then, Inter have been on a steady decline. Rafa Benitez, Leonardo, Gian Piero Gasperini, Claudio Ranieri and Andrea Stramaccioni have all tried and failed to emulate these achievements and lift the club back to their glory days.

Despite the significance of Mourinho’s departure, much of Inter’s failings must go down to the sale of the side’s top players. After the Portuguese coach departed, financial carrots were dangled in front of Massimo Moratti and duly taken, with Samuel Eto’o, Mario Balotelli, Thiago Motta and Wesley Sneijder all cashed-in on.

The club is now in transition, with a host of young and talented players in their ranks. A new owner in the form of Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir is at the helm, while former Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri steers the ship.

Inter vs AC MilanDespite an able side on paper, more expenditure is needed on the playing squad to have Inter challenge for the Champions League qualification berths. If Mazzarri is given time he is the man to deliver this, but the club’s fans will need to be patient.

On the other side of the divide, Milan ended a seven-year title drought by being crowned champions in 2010-11 –made all the more sweet by the fact that they ended Inter’s run of success.

However, similar to their bitter rivals, since then the club have encountered financial issues and sold their top players as a result. The joint sale of the team’s cornerstones, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Thiago Silva, to Paris Saint-Germain in July 2012 signified a considerable shift in financial power in the European game. It also marked the start of difficult times for i Rossoneri.

Despite qualifying for the knockout rounds of the Champions League this term, Milan are floundering in Serie A. As such, the historic Italian club will more than likely not be playing in Europe’s top tournament next season for only the second time in the last 12 years.

Massimiliano Allegri has been in charge of the club since 2010, but his contract expires in the summer and it is being widely speculated that a new head coach will take the reins. At the moment, turning i Rossoneri’s domestic fortunes round seems like the biggest job in Italy.

Both sides go into today’s meetings with different objectives; Inter are keen to close the gap on the Champions League qualification places, while Milan need points to get into the top half of the table.

A win for either would be a real morale booster, but the truth is that these legendary clubs of Italian football are no longer at the pinnacle of the game in the country, and need a lot of work to return to past glory days.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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