15 September 2023


Strengths, tactics and characteristics of Simone Inzaghi's team

A derby packed with anticipation and passion, after a break for National Team commitments, with Inter and AC Milan on level points in the league, something that hasn't happened in Serie A since 11 May 2001. An occasion within an occasion, given that in the history of the top flight, the two Milan clubs have only met with the same points at the top of the league once: 4 February 1962 - 2-0 to the Nerazzurri - that time Fiorentina occupied the top spot with them. The 238th meeting between AC Milan and Inter in all competitions, 114 years on from their first meeting in January 1909, the two clubs, strong, ambitious and determined, having started their 2023/24 seasons in the best way possible, meet again. Inter have won their first three matches of this campaign without conceding a goal: the Nerazzurri could win the first four matches of their campaign for the eighth time, the first since 2019/20 and could do it with four clean sheets for the first time in their history. 

Overall, throughout the entire history of Serie A, only one team has started a season with four victories out of four without conceding a goal: Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus in 2014/15. Furthermore, the Nerazzurri have won every single derby in 2023 without conceding a goal and will look to equal two historic records: only in 1980 and 1983 they did win each derby of the year with a clean sheet (in both cases, however, fewer games were played than this year). It all comes after a break that statistically seems to favour the Rossoneri more than Nerazzurri, as Inter have lost four of their last seven Serie A matches (3W) after the international break, whilst AC Milan have won eight of their last eleven such fixtures (2D, 1L). 

The beginning of the campaign has rewarded the attack-minded approach of the two Lombardian clubs. Inter and AC Milan have scored the most goals (eight) in their first three Serie A matches; for the Rossoneri, it’s the most prolific start since 2014/15. Furthermore, Inzaghi's Inter have registered the most shots (24) in the first 30 minutes of matches this season: a ferocious and aggressive approach that we will see again in San Siro. AC Milan (9) and Inter (10) are also amongst the four teams that have carried out the most vertical attacks at the beginning of this season, together with Cagliari (10) and Sassuolo (10). Considering that the Nerazzurri topped the standings for this statistic last season, it is safe to say that this 'Inzaghian' trend is manifesting itself early this season. 

Inter press in a compact manner, recover the ball (often with the midfield pivot) and automatically play directly to the two strikers. In the build-up phase, you can rely on the left side (Bastoni-Dimarco) to look for line-breaking passes towards the strikers. On top of all this offensive potential is an effective defence: Inter are the only team to have not conceded a goal in the 10 major leagues this season (despite 30 shots on their goal). In addition, their goalkeeper Yann Sommer has kept clean sheets in the last three league games, but he has never managed four in a row in the top five European leagues (managing three also in 2018 and 2019). 

One name, one guarantee. The absolute star of the last Milan derbies has been an Argentine, from Bahìa Blanca, wears the number 10 on his back and the captain's armband on his arm. Lautaro Martínez has scored eight goals against AC Milan in all competitions: only Giuseppe Meazza (12) and Stefano Nyers (11) have scored more in a derby in Inter's history. Furthermore, the Argentine champion has scored five goals in his first three appearances this season; only three players have scored more in the Nerazzurri's first four Serie A games of the season: Bruno Quaresima (seven in 1947/48), Benito Lorenzi (six in 1950/51) and Antonio Angelillo (11 in 1958/59). A more knowledgeable and mature Lautaro, a leader, who has scored 25 goals in all competitions in 2023: more than any player in Serie A (to Victor Osimhen’s 24). 

If the main bogeyman is undoubtedly the Nerazzurri's striker, a certain former Rossonero who seems to have found his fit in Nerazzurro should not be underestimated: Hakan Çalhanoğlu, who in his four seasons with the Rossonero scored the most goals (32) and provided the most assists (42) across all competitions, has scored five of his eleven goals in the Inter shirt from the penalty spot. Amongst them, his first came in his first derby, opposing the Rossoneri (7 November 2021). Two lethal weapons for Simone Inzaghi, who can also count on the freshness of Marcus Thuram, who has provided an assist in two of his first three league games with Inter; since 2004/05 no Nerazzurri has been able to record at least three in his first four appearances. The coach from Piacenza, in all competitions, has had a special nous in the Milanese super match: he has won five times as Inter coach against AC Milan in just two seasons, only Herrera and Weisz have recorded more successes amongst the Nerazzurri coaches against the Rossoneri.

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