Mon­tella needs to de­liver in Mi­lan derby

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - SPORTS -

Vin­cenzo Mon­tella will be in the fir­ing line as AC Mi­lan look to kick-start their sea­son against city ri­vals In­ter in the highly an­tic­i­pated derby Sun­day.

The clash takes on even more sig­nif­i­cance as both teams are now un­der Chi­nese own­er­ship – In­ter on the pay­roll of the Sun­ing Group and Mi­lan, the Ros­soneri Sport In­vest­ment Lux Group.

The last time the two Mi­lan giants clashed in the Derby della Madon­nina was back on Apr. 15, af­ter Li Yonghong com­pleted his takeover of AC Mi­lan to put both city sides un­der Chi­nese own­er­ship.

It was a dra­matic game with Cris­tian Za­p­ata’s equal­izer deep into in­jury time grab­bing a cru­cial point, which kept Mi­lan in the run­ning for a Europa League spot.

Both teams – who share the San Siro Sta­dium on the west­ern out­skirts of Italy’s in­dus­trial and fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal – have seen their for­tunes de­cline in re­cent years.

But for the new Asian own­ers it’s pay­back time on their mul­ti­mil­lion euro in­vest­ments with Mi­lan’s last Serie A ti­tle in 2011 and In­ter hit­ting a bar­ren run since the 2010 tre­ble.

While un­beaten In­ter are rid­ing high just two points be­hind lead­ers Napoli af­ter seven games this cam­paign, Mon­tella’s side have al­ready notched up three losses, most re­cently at home to Roma two weeks ago.

Af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break the next three weeks will be make or break for Mon­tella with seven games on the trot in­clud­ing Ju­ven­tus on Oct. 28 and Europa League ac­tion against AEK Athens.

“The derby is fun­da­men­tal,” warned coach Mon­tella as Mi­lan look to close a seven-point gap on Lu­ciano Spal­letti’s side. “We need to win by any means, with a con­vinc­ing per­for­mance would be bet­ter but it would also be al­right even with an own goal.

“We need to be more cun­ning than against Roma.”

In­ter Mi­lan mid­fielder An­to­nio Can­dreva – who scored the cru­cial goal in Italy’s World Cup qual­i­fy­ing win in Al­ba­nia – be­lieves he can again make the dif­fer­ence.

“I hope I can score a de­ci­sive goal this time,” said Can­dreva, who scored a brace in last sea­son’s derby.

“Goals scored with the na­tional teams can give us con­fi­dence, but are now for­got­ten.

“We know it’s an im­por­tant game, and are pre­par­ing for it as such. We want to stamp our mark on the cham­pi­onship start­ing with this im­por­tant match to keep Mi­lan at bay.”

Lead­ers Napoli travel to Roma and cham­pi­ons Ju­ven­tus host Lazio Satur­day be­fore next week’s Cham­pi­ons League fix­tures in Europe.

Napoli have a max­i­mum 21 points from seven games with Roma six points adrift but with a game in hand.

“It’s a di­rect clash for the top places,” said Roma mid­fielder Lorenzo Pel­le­grini of the duel be­tween last sea­son’s sec­ond and third-place sides at the Sta­dio Olimpico.

Pel­le­grini missed Italy duty with Mace­do­nia and Al­ba­nia, but re­turns this week­end.

“I’ve been fine for the past few days, I’ve been back with the group and the pain has dis­ap­peared. I’m ready for Satur­day.”

De­spite Napoli’s charge this sea­son, Ju­ven­tus’ new French re­cruit Blaise Ma­tu­idi be­lieves the Turin side will have the stay­ing power once again.

“I’m not sur­prised to see Napoli so high, they’re get­ting bet­ter. They will stay with us un­til the end, but the sea­son is long and I’m sure that Ju­ven­tus will even­tu­ally win the ti­tle.”

In mid-ta­ble clashes, Fiorentina host Udi­nese, just one place below them in 12th, as SPAL travel to Bologna and Cro­tone host Torino.

Cagliari host Genoa in Sar­dinia while Ben­evento travel to Verona, with both teams still look­ing for their first three points of the sea­son.

Mon­tella is on the hunt for “a win by any means.”

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