ITALIAN SERIE A
GIUSEPPE MEAZZA ‘STADIO SAN SIRO’
SUNDAY 20TH NOVEMBER 2016
To many, the city of Milan, the capital of the northern region of Lombardy, might seem brusque, businesslike and determinedly un-Italian in feel at least compared to many other major Italian cities. While ‘Milan earns Rome spends’ so the cliche goes. This is a city where commerce and fashion are kings with some of the world’s most famous designer brands headquartered in Milan.
Both sides continue to share the majestic Giuseppe Meazza Stadio San Siro in the west of the city some distance from the compact historic centre. The core of Milan is based around its shopping streets rather than a stadium and the equally inspirational Piazza Duomo, a structure that took 600 years to fully complete, stand dominant.
Like the Duomo, the San Siro has a spectrum of complex architectural styles. On the 8th June 1990, the Fourteenth FIFA World Cup kicked off here between Argentina and Cameroon. By then it had a unique roof and was distinctive for its cylindrical ‘candy twist’ towers which stand at each corner and act as ramps to enable fans to climb the sky reaching heights of the tiers.
Today it is one of the most visited stadiums in Europe standing alongside the Nou Camp for its capacity and unique rectangular panorama feel. It continues to host Champions League final matches the most recent being a Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid final of 2016.
Its pitch is up close and personal with the stands giving the stadium an intimacy that few others can match. Noise from the home ultra groupings tends to boom and smoke from Pyro tends to hang around the air amongst the Milanese mist.
On this particular derby night, things were no different.
In the build up to the evening kick off the rain crashed down for hours. The scene outside would be one of misery to most but such was the anticipation you could hardly say that the weather was dampening spirits amongst the fans who spilt out of the San Siro metro station.
Inter Milan, amidst a serious crisis on and off the field, are obviously a team in transition and it may be some time before they return to the higher reaches of the Serie A table. Milan, for so long a top 4 side and regular Champions League qualifier, is spending the season not even in Europe. But they are a team full of optimism at least when compared to the negativity that seemingly surrounds Inter.
AC Milan was welcomed onto the field of play by a huge spectacular choreography amongst the home fans. Milan fans on the Curva paid tribute to departing owner Silvio Berlusconi the former Italian Prime Minister whose era at the helm of the club witnessed eight Serie A titles and five European Cups.
Amongst the Inter fans, the scene was equally spectacular if a little more intensive. Colour coded bibs in blue, black, red and yellow were handed out and worn. Amongst that were blue, white and black smoke bombs, flashing flares, flags and a range of aggressively orchestrated chants which gave voice to the 10,000 ‘visiting’ fans.
Despite recent problems, Inter started the brighter of the two sides, with Perisic having a couple of chances. The visitor’s midfield then lost some bite when Medel was withdrawn hurt.
Then against the run of play, at the end of a counter-attack orchestrated by Giacomo Bonaventura, Suso cut inside from the right to beat Samir Handanovic to his far post with a neat finish.
At half time the Inter fans embarked on yet another choreography. When play eventually resumed Milan pushed hard for a second goal to really knock Inter’s resolve but Inter through Candreva promptly dragged them back into the contest with a screamer from 25 yards while Milan’s players contested the awarding of a throw-in.
The celebrations were short as Carlos Bacca and Suso combined and the little known Spaniard beat Handanovic.
Icardi, the young Inter captain who has fallen out with Inter fans twice this season, missed a clear cut chance to redeem himself when sticking a chance wide from a one-on-one with the 17-year-old goalkeeper Donnarumma.
The Croatian Perisic, who missed so many chances during the game, took matters into his own hands some two minutes into stoppage time. With Handanovic up and causing panic Murillo’s header from a corner put the ball on a plate in the Milan box and Perisic slammed it into an empty net.
With Frank De Boer leaving behind one big sorry tactical mess and the new Chinese owners expressing worrying concerns at results that leave Inter mid-table, this was a morale-boosting point for the new coach of a struggling Nerazzurri side Stefano Pioli.
Against that Milan look a much stronger side to the one that finished the previous Serie A season in 7th place. Donnarumma gives the defence a confidence and security with his saves and effective distribution. Moreover, at such tender years, he offers the Italian national team huge optimism for the next 20 years between the national team sticks whenever or if ever Buffon decides to retire.
Off the field, this match was a delight in the stands. Both ends offered unending support, noise, colour, and enthusiasm to both teams although it was the Inter fans who arguably enjoyed the draw most given the drama of the final minutes.