The Milan Derby: A Look Back at 5 Years of the Derby della Madonnina
This weekend AC Milan and Internazionale will contest the Derby della Madonnina for the third time this season. Both clubs have their sights set on different goals with just two matches to go.
Inter are hopeful of making the Champions League, though their hopes were dented in mid-week thanks to Parma. They currently sit three points behind Napoli, who sit in the third and final slot. Inter are even sitting outside the Europa League places by one point, and no European football next season is likely.
Milan are only a point behind Juventus and are looking to secure their 19th league title. The Milanese clubs find themselves with the other club's future in their hands, which makes the final derby of 2011-12 even more meaningful.
Now with the derby just hours away, here's a look back at the last five years of the Derby della Madonnina.
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Inter secured the Scudetto in 2007-08 behind the goal-scoring prowess of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the tactical nuances of manager Roberto Mancini.
The Nerazzurri nearly threw away the title that year, however, as their one-time 11-point lead was reduced to one with a game to go. Ibrahimovic's two goals in their final match against Parma proved the deciding factor, and Inter lifted the trophy.
Milan was managed by current PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti, and the club was going through a difficult patch in the league. Milan had won the Champions League Final the previous year but at the end of 2007-08 could only finish fifth.
The clubs contested the first derby of the year prior to Christmas with Inter coming from behind to win 2-1. Milan took the early lead through Andrea Pirlo, but the club's defense, which still boasted captain Paolo Maldini, couldn't hold the lead.
Inter stormed back with goals on either side of halftime through striker Julio Cruz and midfielder Esteban Cambiasso.
Milan was able to exact some revenge in the second derby of the season as Inter's form hit the skids. Goals from Filippo Inzaghi and Kaka put Milan up 2-0 before Inter pulled one back with 15 minutes to go.
That was as close as they got, as Milan took the second derby and Inter's title challenge was nearly derailed.
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The Jose Mourinho-led Inter won the Italian double in 2008-09 behind Ibrahimovic's 25 goals. Inter went on to win the league by 10 points over rivals Juventus and Milan as a young upstart by the name of Mario Balotelli bagged 10 goals of his own.
Ancelotti's Milan resembled a team of aging stars with big names. The club signed the likes of Ronaldinho and David Beckham during the season, and Milan re-signed former club great Andriy Shevchenko, a signing that proved terrible.
Milan won the first derby of the season thanks to a Ronaldinho first-half header. The defense held firm and Milan took the early bragging rights.
In February 2009, Mourinho's Inter took down the Rossoneri as they laid claim to the Scudetto. Adriano and Dejan Stankovic got the early goals before Alexandre Pato gave Milan hope. However, Inter held on and moved closer to the Scudetto.
Inter was unstoppable in 2009-10. The club won the treble on the strength of Mourinho's management and Diego Milito's 30 goals.
Milan was under the management of former player Leonardo, who proved to be no match for Mourinho's abilities as a tactician.
This was proven in the clubs' first meeting when Inter destroyed their rivals 4-0 with two goals on both sides of halftime.
The hurt didn't stop there, as Inter defeated the Rossoneri in the second derby of the season with goals from Milito and Goran Pandev. Milan had sunk to their lowest point in years while Inter soared to heights they hadn't reached since the 1960s.
In the end, Milan finished 12 points behind the Nerazzurri.
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How different things were at the beginning of 2010 for both clubs. Inter and Milan had new managers, Rafael Benitez and Massimiliano Allegri, respectively. Hopes were high, but mostly in the blue half, as supporters hoped Benitez could continue Mancini and Mourinho's winning ways.
In the first showdown of the season, Ibrahimovic slotted home from the spot. The club was awarded a soft penalty in the fourth minute of the match.
Inter couldn't break down their rivals, and the Rossoneri held on for the win, heaping more pressure onto Benitez. The Spaniard was relieved of his duties in December following Inter's Club World Cup triumph.
Former Milan manager Leonardo took up the reins of Inter after the New Year and turned the club's fortunes around. However, his tactical naiveté showed in the second derby of the season as Milan hammered Inter 3-0.
Two goals from Pato and one from Antonio Cassano secured the victory as Milan went on to win their first title since 2004. It was also the first time in six years the Scudetto wasn't awarded to the Nerazzurri.
The two clubs have already played twice this season. They kicked off the Serie A season back in August in the Supercoppa Italiana. The game was played in Beijing, China, rather than in Milan. Despite being played thousands of miles away, the final lived up to all expectations.
Inter took the early lead through a Wesley Sneijder free kick. However, Inter's new 3-5-2 formation employed by Gian Piero Gasperini was broken down by Milan's attack.
Milan got the equalizer from an Ibrahimovic header before Kevin-Prince Boateng notched the winner. The midfielder bagged the goal after Pato's shot rebounded off the post.
Despite missing out on the cup, Inter won the first derby of this year's league season. A solitary Milito goal in the 54th minute proved to be the decider.
Though Inter were denied an early penalty, they proved to be the stronger of the two clubs on the night. Milan never really got out of first gear and put in a truly poor performance on the night.