Sunday, 28 September 2008

Milanese icons ready to strut their stuff

Saturday was the final night of the Milan Fashion Week, but the city's attention will switch from style to footballing steel tonight when AC Milan meet champions Inter in the Derby della Madonnina.

While the world's press have been admiring the looks that will be dazzling in spring and summer 2009, it remains to be seen whether either of the fashion capital's football clubs will be drawing admiring glances next year.

However, at the moment, Jose Mourinho's Inter are cutting a dash, topping the Serie A table with ten points from four matches and triumphing in their first UEFA Champions League fixture, having already won the Italian Supercoppa.

By contrast, the Rossoneri made a poor start to the season with defeats by Bologna and Genoa, before improving to register back-to-back victories over Lazio and Reggina.

Carlo Ancelotti will be without Andrea Pirlo and Marco Borriello because of thigh injuries, which may open the way for Andriy Shevchenko to impress in a game which pits him against his former manager at Chelsea, Mourinho.

"My condition is improving quickly and the same can be said for the rest of the team," said the Ukraine striker, whose two seasons in London brought him a disappointing nine goals from 47 league games.

"A win against Inter would have a special meaning. The squad are very united and we are all behind the coach. I'm sure we can do well on Sunday. I'm working hard and I have to carry on like this. I'm sure the goals will come sooner or later."

Young Alexandre Pato has no such concerns, having scored in Milan's last three matches in all competitions. "I'm very glad about my goals but now my mind is only on Inter," said the 19-year-old. "It's a must-win game for us."

Meanwhile, full-back Gianluca Zambrotta hopes one of Pato's fellow countrymen can have a decisive impact on the tie. "Ronaldinho can make the difference," he said. "'Dinho' is the kind of player who can raise himself for special occasions."

However, Inter captain Javier Zanetti, who made his 600th appearance for the Nerazzurri as they beat Lecce 1-0 on Wednesday, is confident his side can maintain their winning streak.

"Milan deserve respect and they are improving," he said. "Like every derby it will be a hard-fought, even game, but I'm sure we can leave the San Siro as winners on Sunday."

The derby, more than Fashion Week, could show whether black-and-blue or black-and-red will be the colours of next spring.

Source: UEFA

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