Milan Derby, Sides Worry Each Other But No One Else...

Muazzin MehrbanCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2010

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 24: Ronaldhino (r) of Milan challenged by Maicon of Inter during the Serie A match between Inter Milan and AC Milan at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 24, 2010 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

There was a time when we here in England simply admitted that our top flight was not on the level as that of Italy. However, having watched Italy’s archetypal fixture, the Milan derby, any fears of inferiority can surely now be completely dismissed. Yes, the star names are still there, as is the militancy of the crowd and there remains no end to camera shots of pretty women dotted in seats around the playing surface.

But for all the majesty of the occasion, what was served up in the Giuseppe Meazza on Sunday night, was a contest that would have neither Chelsea nor Manchester United particularly worried when the four sides meet in the next phase of the Champions’ League. Is there a slower side among Europe’s elite than AC Milan? And what does it say for the league if they look set to be the closest side to Inter, who now appear out of sight at the league’s summit.

The media appear to have made a big deal of Inter’s victory, hyping it as a sign of things to come when Mourinho takes on his old side over two legs. But many may see this for what it is, a reason to re-instate the much missed ‘chosen one’ to the back pages of newspapers once more. John Terry and Company - his company including Drogba Lampard Anelka and injury permitting, Essien - I dare say won’t be rattled or even too worried, save for a little sentiment, when they take the Italian league leaders.

Maybe I am being a little harsh here, as without doubt, both Milan clubs still harbour big names containing a blend of celebrity, legends and seasoned professionals. None more so than my personal favourite, Javier Zanetti, a player, like Ryan Giggs, of unmatched professionalism and longevity. The list of names goes on, Ronaldinho, Beckham, Pirlo and Lucio, Maicon and Sneijder, all of whom would probably attract interest from England’s top four or five if you count Mancini’s new home.

My harshness might well be amplified further by the fact that the attacking edges of both teams are perhaps blunted by the absence of their sharpest tools, Eto’o and Pato. Inter must still be laughing at the deal they managed to strike with Barca in letting Ibrahimovic leave in exchange for a lethal speedster and a pile of cash. While Pato’s inevitable rise to the top, complimented intermittently by Ronaldinho, has given hope that there is indeed life after Kaka.

In retrospect, I now think that both sides have every chance against their English counterparts when the European cup resumes, they are more than capable of hurting their opposition. But over two legs I expect English muscle, heart and above all endurance to prevail, there were just too many players willingly falling to the deck on Sunday...