Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Milan derby, Serie A title: Inter can win it all in a single night


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Rome, April 18: A derby win. A Serie A title. A second star. Inter Milan has an unprecedented chance to secure all three achievements at once with a win over AC Milan on Monday.
And, city bragging rights might mean more than anything. “It’s an incredible opportunity,” Inter midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan said.
Entering with a 14-point advantage over second-place Milan, Inter can stretch its lead to an insurmountable 17 points with five rounds remaining. That would secure Inter’s 20th Italian league title and earn the Nerazzurri a second star on their shirts.
A star is awarded for every 10 Serie A titles. Inter and Milan have each won the Italian league 19 times. Only Juventus, which has a record 36 titles and thus three stars, has won more.
“We’re almost at the top of the mountain and we can’t wait to see the view. But, we’re not quite there yet,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi, who is poised to win the league for the first time as a coach. “We still need some points and we want to get them as soon as possible.” With Milan being the home club, most of the San Siro will be decked out in red and black, with only one end of the stadium reserved for Inter’s supporters.
Milan will be motivated after Inter routed the Rossoneri 5-1 in this season’s first derby in September.
It’s not the first Derby della Madonnina with added significance.
Inter beat Milan in both legs of the Champions League semi-finals last season and also won the Italian Super Cup played in Saudi Arabia against Milan last year – with the two rivals meeting a record five times last season.
When Inter won Serie A three years ago, the team was denied an open-air bus celebration due to the coronavirus pandemic. And, the team would have to wait an extra day this time due to public safety concerns.
Milan officials are concerned that a victory parade Monday night would run into potential conflict with Milan fans returning home from the derby combined with more Inter supporters streaming out of their homes to join in on the celebration. Plus, local police are scheduled to go on strike Monday.
So, the bus parade would not happen until Tuesday if Inter wins. If Inter doesn’t win, the next chance to clinch will come against Torino at the San Siro the following weekend.
Whenever it happens – a trophy for Inter seems a certainty – the title will crown a season in which Inter was not the preseason favourite.
Napoli was favoured to repeat after its dominant performance last season but lies only eighth in the current standings, a whopping 34 points behind Inter.
Despite losing Romelu Lukaku to Roma, Inter has exceeded all expectations with Marcus Thuram more than making up for the Belgian’s departure with 11 goals and seven assists.
Inter captain Lautaro Martinez, who has a league-high 23 goals, is poised to be presented with the Serie A trophy after Inter’s last home game against Lazio on May 19. As Inter Milan stands on the precipice of a historic triumph, the anticipation in Rome is palpable. A derby victory against AC Milan on Monday not only promises to secure the Serie A title but also signifies the acquisition of a second star, a symbol of unparalleled success in Italian football. With a commanding 14-point lead over their closest rivals, Inter has the opportunity to extend their dominance to an insurmountable 17 points, effectively clinching their 20th league title and etching their name further into footballing lore. The journey has been arduous, but with each obstacle overcome, the Nerazzurri have only grown stronger. (AP)


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