Both have racked up three wins from three ahead of the first Derby della Madonnina of the season, so something must give when two giants of Calcio collide.
Having won each of their last four meetings with Milan without conceding a single goal – already a club record – Inter are now aiming to record five consecutive Milan derby wins for the very first time.
That is a feat yet to be achieved throughout the entire 114-year history of the clubs’ enduring rivalry, but more pertinently, the Nerazzurri are gunning for top spot in Serie A and to strike an early blow in this year’s title race.
Although they were pipped to the Scudetto by their Rossoneri rivals in 2022, Inter have since bitten back with some ferocity; including their current streak of four wins on the spin, they have scored first in each of the last 10 derbies across Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League.
Simone Inzaghi’s men have made a similarly sharp start to the 2023-24 campaign, as before international football intervened they had won all of their first three fixtures without conceding a goal – scoring twice against both Monza and Cagliari before putting four past Fiorentina.
The last time Inter started with three shut-out victories came as far back as 1966, and they have not leaked a single Serie A goal since a stoppage-time strike by Atalanta in May.
Such resilience could see them in with a real shot of regaining the Scudetto – which has so far proved elusive during Inzaghi’s reign – and even going one step further in Europe, having missed out by a whisker on claiming last season’s Champions League crown.
While Inter kick off this term’s continental campaign with a trip to San Sebastian next week, when they tackle Real Sociedad in their opening Group D fixture, nothing will distract them from the task of reigning supreme in the Derby della Madonnina.
For all their ill fortune in several recent derbies – particularly last season’s Champions League semi-final – Milan have actually won three of their last six league meetings with Inter – as many as in the previous 19 combined.
However, the Rossoneri came out second best in the Lombardy clubs’ most recent encounter in Serie A, losing 1-0 in early February, when a first-half strike by Lautaro Martinez split the sides.
Now, Milan face their city rivals while sitting level on points for the first time since May 2001, and they may hope precedent bodes well for them in that regard; on that occasion, the red side of Italy’s second city celebrated a stunning 6-0 win.
Having remodelled his midfield this summer, coach Stefano Pioli – briefly Inter boss in the past, but without success – has seen his team start in top gear this term, and they went into the international break with a record of three wins from three once again.
Milan have now won each of their first three games for the third time in the last four seasons – as many times as throughout the 29 years beforehand – after swatting aside Bologna and Torino and then returning from Rome with maximum points.
Despite going down to 10 men in their most recent outing, when Fikayo Tomori saw red against Roma, the Rossoneri rallied to protect a two-goal lead until stoppage time and went on to pull off a gritty 2-1 victory.
Ageless striker Olivier Giroud was on target again at Stadio Olimpico, and the outcome of this week’s derby could well come down to his duel with Inter captain Martinez, who has started the season in similarly strong form.
Inter Milan Serie A form:
AC Milan Serie A form:
We say: Inter Milan 2-1 AC Milan
Inter and Milan not only top the table together but have also scored the most goals in Serie A this season, with eight apiece. However, Saturday’s contest should be much tighter, with the fear of derby defeat proving a major factor.
As a result, scoring twice would surely be enough to secure maximum points, and such is the Nerazzurri’s firepower they can do so and beat their Rossoneri rivals once again.