AC Milan vs Inter Milan: Scoring the Key Battles at the San Siro

Peter WebsterContributor IIIJanuary 16, 2012

AC Milan vs Inter Milan: Scoring the Key Battles at the San Siro

0 of 5

    Sunday was arguably the biggest game of the Serie A season as AC Milan took on Inter Milan at the San Siro in front of a huge crowd.

    Claudio Ranieri's Inter Milan went into the game on the back of  five straight wins, and a solitary goal from Argentine Diego Milito was enough to make it six in a row and re-spark Inter's previously flagging Scudetto aspirations.

    Inter Milan's win saw them close the gap at the top to six points whilst AC Milan slid into second after Juventus got a home point against Cagliari.

    With the Milan derby always so hotly contested, here is a look at some of the key battles in the game and who came out on top.

Walter Samuel vs Zlatan Ibrahimovic

1 of 5

    Walter Samuel won this personal battle of the day after a rock-steady performance at the back for Inter.

    Ibrahimovic was Milan's main threat, and once Samuel had a handle on him, Milan seemingly ran out of ideas going forward.

    Ibrahimovic had a few headed opportunities that he perhaps could have done better with, but Samuel turned back the clock to put in a great performance that he should be proud of.

    RATING

    Samuel 8/10

    Ibrahimovic 6/10

Javier Zanetti vs Luca Zambrotta

2 of 5

    It seemingly was a day for the men of Inter's old guard as Javier Zanetti showed he was still full of running at 38 years of age.

    A tireless display from the Argentine took Luca Zambrotta by surprise and he never looked back.

    Zanetti was a shining example of why he still starts for Inter Milan at such an old age—in football terms at least.

    Whilst Zambrotta and Zanetti weren't direct opponents for much of the game, the times they did come together proved difficult for the Italian Zambrotta, who was replaced by Robinho for the final 25 minutes..

    It was Zanetti's cross that eluded Ignazio Abate and found Diego Milito for the winning goal.

    RATING

    Zanetti 9/10

    Zambrotta 6/10

Thiago Silva vs Giampaulo Pazzini

3 of 5

    Despite the result, Thiago Silva looked particularly good and had Pazzini well under control throughout the match.

    Silva's final ball could have been a little better when he went on his barnstorming runs, but in truth he had little help from his teammates in terms of available options.

    Pazzini came into the game more in the second period, when he displayed some decent hold-up capability, but Silva was always comfortable.

    RATING

    Silva 7.5/10

    Pazzinini 6.5/10

Ignazio Abate vs Diego Milito

4 of 5

    Milito was the match winner in this game, but his overall play wasn't as good as some of his compatriots.

    Milito took advantage when Abate gave him far too much time and space after misjudging Javier Zanetti's cross, and he didn't need a second invitation to finish.

    Milito could have gone one better and added a second late on, but it was not to be.

    Unfortunately for Ignazio Abate, he didn't too much else wrong during the game, but that one error proved key to the result, which is why his rating is so low.

    I'm quite sure Milito will get all the plaudits in the newspapers, but I've seen him play a lot better previously.

    RATING

    Milito 8/10

    Abate 5/10

After Thoughts

5 of 5

    So after another exciting Italian derby, it was Inter Milan which came out on top. By doing so, they may or may not have reignited a title bid that had looked a joke at the beginning of the season.

    The four key battles that I have highlighted were the ones that influenced the game in the majority, and my man-of-the-match performance would have to go to Javier Zanetti.

    It amazes me that a player cans still perform to such a high level at 38 years of age, but it seems a growing trend as Paul Scholes, 37, and Thierry Henry, 34, ran out for their respective Premier League clubs this weekend.

    It could be that modern medicine and improved understanding of the human body has increased footballers playing time to a point that the average 34-year-old isn't ready to hang up his boots anymore.

    It also begs the question,: Where are the hotshot youngsters pushing these aging players onto the bench?

    I'd welcome your thoughts on who were the best players, so feel free to leave some comments below.

    On twitter? Follow me @petercwebster, where I post all my Bleacher Report articles.

    Also click here to see some great goals from a player fast becoming a Serie A legend.