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Milan derby still has meaning as AC clash with Inter

It was not too long ago that the Derby della Madonnina was the headline act in the Italian footballing calendar: a potential title decider, a cup final, or a crunch clash in the race for Champions League football.

This time around, the much-awaited Milan derby is being billed as a merely a battle between fallen giants, and one that will have little impact on anything other than cross-town bragging rights, supposedly representing how low Serie A has sunk.

However, AC (13/5 with Coral to win) and Inter (11/10 to emerge as victors) have always used each other as a yard-stick by which to measure success, constantly competing to be crowned jewel of Milan, and their progress should be of interest and importance to all in Italian football.

There may be no Scudetto at stake, as Serie A’s power now appears to lay in Rome and Turin, and Europe may also have escaped both clubs’ grasp, but this clash could still shape their respective seasons… and next.

The Rossoneri and Nerazzurri are currently locked on 18 league wins apiece and, having eked out a draw already this season, the fierce rivals are 9/4 to split the spoils again at the San Siro.

However, despite the two Milan teams being stranded in midtable mediocrity, there should be too much passion on show for this encounter to end on even terms, with stand-in AC skipper Ignazio Abate telling media: “It is not the same derby as a few years ago. But there is still motivation.”

Inter are currently just one point adrift of their ninth placed neighbours, and could grab instant glory by leapfrogging them with a win.

Roberto Mancini’s men have racked up just one win in their last five Serie A outings, so will need Argentine attacking duo, and Nerazzurri leading scorers, Mauro Icardi and Rodrigo Palacio to be at their potent best.

Apparent Premier League target Icardi opened the scoring last time out, and is 9/2 to do so again, while strike partner Palacio has been prolific of late himself, and is 11/2 to settle the clash by netting last.

Mancini can also call upon Swiss wizard Xherdan Shaquiri (15/8 to be on target anytime) and Arsenal-owned Lukas Podolski (7/4), both of whom still have points to prove before their loan deals expire.

There have been just seven goals across the past five derbies, and Inter midfield general Gary Medel recently spoke of taking a cautious approach to the clash, stating: “I don’t think we should throw everything into the attack, but take intelligent risks to maximise our attributes while being aware of Milan’s strengths.”

So, a tight affair is to be expected, although AC Milan’s menacing Jeremy Menez may have something to say about that, and fortune certainly favours the brave.

The formiddable French forward has struck a superb 16 times in Serie A this season, with three in his last three appearances, so is an excellent price at 8/1 to bag a brace or better, or 11/2 to fire home first.

On-loan Alessio Cerci and Mattia Destro have also proven to be dangermen since their arrivals, in stark comparison to inter’s temporary recruits, and are respective shouts at 11/4 and 2/1 in the anytime market.