Former AC Milan boss Arrigo Sacchi believes that Inter lost the derby as much as the Rossoneri won it as he accused them of being ‘too Italian’ when they had the lead.
You would be hard pushed to find anyone who would argue against the idea that Inter were the better side throughout the opening 45 minutes, as they generated a number of clear cut scoring opportunities but only scored once through Ivan Perisic’s volley from a corner.
The Rossoneri weathered the storm, hung in there and in the final 16 minutes of the game things changed dramatically. Olivier Giroud equalised with an instinctive finish from a deflected Brahim Diaz shot, and then he span Stefan de Vrij before firing into the bottom corner to win the spoils.
La Gazzetta dello Sport sat down with Sacchi to reflect on a derby that was full of flared tempers, controversial incidents and was watched by a fiery atmosphere, and he revealed his belief that Inter should not have sat off as they did in the second half at 1-0 up.
“In the first 45 ‘the Nerazzurri were better, but with Diaz the game changed: Brozovic was forced to run and not to be chased by Kessie. Giroud very good, but Maignan was the best,” he said.
“I don’t know who it was who said that football encompasses universal history in 90 minutes, but I know he was right. Who would have thought, at the end of the first half, that Milan would have won this match? Nobody, nobody at all. Football is beautiful also for these oddities.
“The difference between the Nerazzurri and the Rossoneri was enormous, Inzaghi’s players missed several goals. Milan was not co-ordinated, too much distance between the departments and then that Kessie to mark Brozovic did not convince me.
“If you play zonal – and Milan play zonal – why do you have to assign a player to a fixed marking? It turned out that Kessie never touched the ball and Brozovic did what he wanted. Milan must be a collective, otherwise they are not going anywhere. Without tactics, without shortcuts, with enthusiasm and pressure.”
Did the Nerazzurri deserve to go a goal up?
“Deserved. Inter have shown that they have more physicality, more individual qualities and more experience.”
But then Inzaghi’s boys fell asleep…
“Inter did as all Italian teams do: once they have the lead, instead of looking for a knockout, they worry about managing, they slow down the pace. That’s no good. You have to attack and have courage for ninety minutes or more.”
Pioli’s move to bring off Kessie and put on Brahim Diaz changed the game…
“That’s right. With Diaz, Milan got right and Brozovic was forced to run after an opponent instead of being chased by Kessie. Placed in the middle of the field, in the attack, Diaz got involved because he received the ball in a dangerous position. I don’t understand why Inter have lowered the pressure in this way. They had the ability to hold the game in hand and instead handed it to the opponent. At one point, Inter tried to survive, but this doesn’t work in football.”
Also because Milan grew thanks to some flashes from Diaz…
“True, but we have to be honest: before the goal they had hardly a shot on goal. Then the games suddenly change. Giroud was very good. A centre-forward like him suffers if he doesn’t have the support of the whole team and has been isolated for more than an hour. But he is generous, he runs a lot, he is always ready. The play on the second goal was wonderful.”
The best for the Rossoneri?
“Giroud decided the game at least as much as Maignan. For me the goalkeeper was the best.”
Scudetto race reopened? Inter remain the strongest but must demonstrate maturity…
“Table tightened, but Inter remain the strongest. Now they will have to demonstrate maturity: it is not easy to absorb certain blows. But the qualities of Inzaghi’s group are superior to those of the others.”
And for Milan?
“This success will give excitement, and the enthusiasm will be channeled in the right direction. Milan must regain peace of mind and must go back to being what it was in the first part of the season, that is, a collective. Pioli’s players do not have the physical strength, experience and technique of their opponents: they have to make up for these shortcomings with a sense of the group, with the spirit of sacrifice.”
What did this derby say?
“That in Italy we often think as tacticians and not as strategists. We have seen strengths and weaknesses on both sides. Inter had a duty to push and didn’t do it. Milan, in the first half, were only concerned with countering the opponent and not creating. These are errors that you pay for on an international level.”
Tips for Pioli and Inzaghi?
“They are two good coaches, they have to believe even more in what they do and in their own game. More conviction is needed in order to style the team. Look at Liverpool, City, but also Porto, that is, the teams that are expressing the best football in Europe.
“In Italy we are often under rhythm, and this is a defect to be erased. And then I’d like to see more pressing, shorter teams and consequently more organised. If you are close, you help each other more. Milan, when it was a team, a cohesive group, built success.”
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