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Inter Milan v AC Milan – three key battles

The Nerazzurri have started a little better than their red-and-black rivals but a revamped Rossoneri squad could upset the odds at San Siro.

FOOTBALL 12/10/17 14:50
Inter Milan v AC Milan – three key battles

The first Derby della Madonnina of the Serie A season takes place on Sunday night and both Inter Milan and AC Milan are targeting top-three finishes.

The Nerazzurri have started a little better than their red-and-black rivals but a revamped Rossoneri squad could upset the odds at San Siro.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at where the battle for bragging rights might be won and lost.

Icardi v Bonucci

Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi will bid to win the battle up front (Niall Carson/PA)
Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi will bid to win the battle up front (Niall Carson/PA)

After winning the Scudetto six times in a row and reaching the Champions League final twice with Juventus, Leonardo Bonucci has a reputation as one of the best defenders in Europe if not the world. But his shock summer move to Milan has not exactly gone swimmingly and the Rossoneri have kept only two clean sheets in the league so far. The new captain now comes up against one of the most prolific strikers in Italy, Mauro Icardi, who already has six goals this term after hitting 26 in all competitions in 2016-17. Bonucci, who is very comfortable on the ball and pushing forward, will have his hands full with the tricky Argentinian who is a deadly poacher and nifty around the penalty area. Icardi scored in Inter’s 2-1 home victory against a Juve side featuring Bonucci in September 2016.

Valero v Kessie

Franck Kessie, left, will be a strong presence for Milan (Matteo Bazzi/AP)
Franck Kessie, left, will be a strong presence for Milan (Matteo Bazzi/AP)

Inter’s troubles in recent years have largely been down to a lack of class in midfield and with the shrewd capture of Spaniard Borja Valero from Fiorentina they have finally found a real pass-master. While Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic offer danger out wide, Valero pulls the strings from the centre. Trying to ruin his evening will be Milan’s tough-tackling Ivorian, Franck Kessie. The 20-year-old was a star turn in the Atalanta team that finished fifth last season and the marauding midfielder is a physically imposing presence and cool in possession when things are not going Milan’s way. Kessie helped nullify Valero’s threat in a goalless draw between Fiorentina and Atalanta in October last year.

Skrinitar v Kalinic

While Milan dominated the headlines by splashing more than 200 million euros on new players in the last transfer window, Inter calmly remodelled their own squad with a series of more modest signings. Chief among those was Slovakian centre-back Milan Skriniar, who had dazzled since joining Sampdoria in January 2016. Tall, quick, athletic and unforgiving in the tackle, he will be tasked with marking Milan’s target man Nikola Kalinic. The former Blackburn striker forced through a move to San Siro after hitting 15 league goals for Fiorentina last season and he has two goals under his belt while fellow new boy Andre Silva has thus far failed to notch. Skriniar kept him quiet when Samp held Fiorentina to a 1-1 draw last November.

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