Derby della Madonnina. Derby della Madonnina. Derby della Madonnina. The words alone get the juices flowing. Any match with its own name gets automatically lifted to a new status in the football calendar - El Clasico, the Old Firm derby, the Derby della Madonnina, the Derby d'Italia … (can anyone out there name any more? Not just the North London derby or whatever, but matches with more evocative titles if possible …)
Both Inter and Meeelan come at this fixture after difficult starts to the season. The Rossoneri had their worst start to a campaign since 1940; the Nerazzurri begun their season at the San Siro with back-to-back home defeats for the first time in 75 years. Both, though, seem to have turned the corner. Inter have now won three on the bounce, Milan have broken their San Siro duck and had a fine win at Zenit St Petersberg in midweek.
Though it seems a fascinating fixture from the outside, it doesn't seem to have captured the imagination of those in the city. Around 2,000 tickets remain unsold at San Siro.
Milan (4-2-3-1): Abbiati; Bonera, Yepes, Mexes, De Sciglio; De Jong, Montolivo; Emanuelson, Boateng, El Sharaawy; Bojan. Subs: Amelia, Gabriel, Robinho, Nocerino, Pazzini, Acerbi, Flamini, Zapata, Abate, Costant, Ambrosini, Antonini
Inter (3-4-1-2): Handanovic; Ranocchia, Samuel, Juan Jesus; Zanetti, Gargano, Cambiasso, Nagatomo; Coutinho; Milito, Cassano. Subs: Castellazzi, Belec, Silvestre, Palacio, Guarin, Mudingayi, Obi, Pereira, Duncan, Jonathan, Bianchetti, Livaja
Referee: Paolo Valeri (Rome).
Inter look like they've stuck to three at the back. Milan give Bojan a lone furrow to plough up front.
"There's another heated, named derby kicking off fifteen minutes after the Derby della Madonnina, it's Le Classique between Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain at OM's home, the Stade Vélodrome," writes Kári Tulinius. "Yes, it's modeled after, and takes its name from, El Clásico, but by now it's its own thing. A fierce rivalry between the most successful French team and the team from the capital. Now it's given added spice by the fact that Paris Saint-Germain are rolling in Qatari money, while Marseille are having to do more with less. And tonight, if PSG win, they go top of Ligue 1. However, Marseille have won 22 out of 33 Classiques at the Stade Vélodrome. It could be a great game."
Click-clack, click-clack … Out come the teams into the Milan night. Inter players holding the hands of Milan-shirted mascots, and Milan likewise with Inter-shirted youngsters.
Peep! Paolo Valeri blows his whistle and Inter get us underway.
1 min: Samuel dumps Boateng to the turf in the centre-circle with a just-to-let-you-know-I'm-here challenge.
2 min: Cassano is bundled over on the left touchline. Massimo Allegri gets up in the referee's grill as a result. "I'm not sure that was a free-kick, you know," he screams. I may be paraphrasing.
GOAL! Milan 0-1 Internazionale (Samuel 3) And from the resultant free-kick Inter take the lead. That won't do much for Allegri's mood. Cambiasso swung the thing in deep to the far post where Samuel is sliding in, almost on his knees, and bullets the ball in to the roof of the net.
4 min: What a start for Inter! And now Cassano's won a corner. He responds by urging the Inter fans behind the goal to get behind the team.
6 min: … again Milan struggle to clear. Eventually the shot goes wide.
7 min: HOW ON EARTH IS THAT NOT 2-0? Diego Milito misses not one but two sitters in the space of five seconds. He's handed the ball by Abbiati inside the area, but Mexes does superbly to get back and block the shot from eight yards out. The ball loops up and the unchallenged Milito nods a header as soft as a baby kitten's belly straight at the keeper. He took too long with the first chance, then rushed the second. A huge let-off for the home side.
9 min: Cassano skips down the right. The home fans whistle with as much gusto as they can manage. It's quite hard to whistle furiously but they're giving it a good go.
10 min: Boateng goes into Valeri's Big Book Of Terribly Rum Fellows after bringing down (I think) Gargano.
12 min: Emanuelson gets a little lucky as Juan trips him needlessly 40 yards from goal. Potentially dangerous free-kick this for Milan …
13 min: … rolled to Montolivo who sends a glorious effort that swerves and dips like a badly-flung frisbee just wide of Handanovic's goal.
15 min: El Shaarawy, Milan's in-form man, hasn't been involved at all as yet. But, as I type that, he wins a corner …
16 min: … nodded away, then smashed over on the volley by Bonera from around 3,724 yards.
17 min: Emanuelson wangs a cross pointlessly, hopelessly and uselessly over the heads of a couple of his team-mates.
19 min: Nagatomo does well to tuck in from wing-back and deny El Shaarawy space in the area. The home side are gradually getting on top here.
20 min: Coutinho finds Milito, but the Argentinian struggles to make the most of what appeared a promising situation.
22 min: El Shaarawy, who seems to have been constantly on the ball since I mentioned that he wasn't getting involved, fires a decent effort into the breadbasket of Handanovic.
23 min: Nagatomo goes into the book for a challenge on Yepes that could've seen either one of them penalised.
25 min: Cambiasso catches Montolivo with a slightly wild challenge. Free-kick to Milan …
26 min: … headed away by Juan for a corner, which is whipped in far too deep by the wasteful Emanuelson.
27 min: Milan may have clawed their way back into it, but they don't look to have much idea about how to break down this Inter defence, other than with (so far poorly taken) set-pieces. That said, Inter haven't had a sniff since Milito botched that double-chance.
28 min: Countinho scoots forward and plays in Zanetti who gets hoofed over by Bonera. Free-kick in exactly the spot from which Inter scored … but this time someone is caught offside.
30 min: GREAT CHANCE FOR MILAN! Bonera charges forward and pulls the ball back for Boateng, who catches it sweetly first-time but zips his shot narrowly wide. Close, but as Jesse Ventura used to say, close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades.
31 min: Cassano skitters into the box, but Bonera stands firm.
32 min: At centre-back Milan have tried more combinations than an incompetent safe-cracker this season and at times it is showing. Milito gets clear and it's only Gargano's poor touch that allows a Milan defender to get a touch. That touch rolls back to Milito, though, and the Argentinian sprays his shot yards wide.
33 min: Mexes goes into the book for a chop on Cassano. Dangerous free-kick …
34 min: … sand-wedged in by Cambiasso, but nodded clear by the Milan defence on this occasion.
35 min: Juan criminally gives the ball away 35 yards from his own goal. Emanuelson hands on to Boateng, who with the goal yawning in front of him sends his shot wider than a sumo who's really let himself go.
37 min: De Jong thunders into Gargano and becomes the fourth player to go into the book.
38 min: CONTROVERSY! Handanovic leaps out to punch clear and tumbles down after clipping Emanuelson. Montolivo sends back the most sumptuous of first-time volleys that whistles into the top corner, but the whistle has already gone for the non-existent foul.
40 min: "Why is the arch-enemy of the Smurfs playing in the Inter midfield?" wonders Jack Adamson. I think you'll find that's Gargamel.
42 min: Emanuelson surges forward impressively but can't find Boateng or Bojan with his cross. That was a chance.
44 min: Bojan hops and pops in the area like a chip in a deep fat fryer. He works himself half a yard and forces Handanovic to punch his shot behind …
45 min: … swung in but missed by Mexes. Meanwhile, in Le Classique PSG are 2-1 up after 25 minutes.
PEEP! And that's half-time. It's been a contest that has intrigued and bubbled nicely rather than thrilled. A meat stew of a half – satisfying, tasty but nothing remarkable.
PEEP! And Milan kick-off the second half. Inter have made a half-time change – Coutinho has been replaced with the Colombian Freddy Guarin.
46 min: The entirely ineffective Bojan lofts a cross behind Handanovic's goal.
48 min: RED CARD!! Nagatomo sees red for a second bookable offence. It was a village-idiot-daft deliberate handball down in the Milan half, as needless as it was foolish.
49 min: Inter haven't made a personnel change as a result of that red card. Instead, Zanetti has dropped in at right-back and they've switched to a back four.
50 min: Off comes Milan's Bonera, who looks like he's got a knock, and on comes Abate.
51 min: Cassano heads over to take a corner. A deluge of Milan fans behind the goal run to that errand of the stand to deliver a torrent of abuse.
52 min: And the whole ground gets to boo and whistle now as Cassano comes off to be replaced by Pereira.
54 min: An Emanuelson free-kick is (yet again) nodded away fairly easily. Montolivo, following up, belts a shot at goal that's wilder than a mountain lion who's just found out he's run out of milk when the tea is already mashing.
55 min: And, a few moments later, he repeats the trick from the edge of the area. Those two Montolivo shots missed the goal by roughly a combined 281 yards.
56 min: Robinho replaces De Sciglio. Allegri brings his meat to the grill.
58 min: Emanuelson punts a cross behind. He's at least getting involved, but his delivery has been nothing short of appalling by and large.
61 min: Robinho can't quite connect with another Emanuelson centre. Inter have settled for this scoreline now. Can Milan break them down in the 30 minutes left. Anything could happen in the next half hour!
63 min: Although I'll be frankly very surprised if Milan score here.
64 min: Montolivo this time gets his radar corrected and stings Handanovic's knuckles with a long-range drive. Bojan picks up the rebound, chips to Boateng at the far post, but the Ghanaian international can only volley into the ground and over.
66 min: Milan labour to find a shooting position, but eventually the ball reaches Montolivo who again tests Handanovic's concentration with a thumping effort from distance. Bojan slips onto his backside as he attempts to pick up the rebound.
69 min: Rodrigo Palacio, prolific for Genoa last season, replaces Milito. And for Milan El Shaarawy is replaced by Pazzini, who swapped Inter for AC in the deal that took Cassano in the other direction.
71 min: Juan makes a fine challenge to deny Boateng in the Inter box.
73 min Boateng lines up a shot on the edge of the box. This one smacks into Ranocchia.
74 min: WHAT A CHANCE! Robinho lofts a delightful pass to the back post where Pazzini is clear. He can't quite stretch his right leg out far enough to connect.
76 min: Emanuelson drags a shot across goal. Corner …
77 min: … nodded clear by Inter. It's Milan v a blue-and-black wall now.
79 min: A RIGHT MADCAP SCRAMBLE! Robinho nods back across goal, Pazzini connects with nothing but Milan air as he swings at the ball six yards out. Ranochhia then botches the clearance, and Handanovic has to flap away under pressure from Pazzini.
81 min: Milan surround the referee in what can only be described as a monumentally hot funk after being refused a penalty. Pazzini cleverly drags a pass in to the onrushing Robinho, who goes down having been brushed by Samuel. It says here in this book of cliches that "you've seen them given".
83 min: Mexes hoofs horribly behind the Inter goal. Inter have defended very well in fairness, and Milan have improved as the half has worn on.
85 min: Montolivo goes into the book ridiculously harshly for handball.
87 min: Ranocchia makes a FANTASTIC block on the edge of the area as Bojan lines up a shot at goal. Inter have less than five minutes to survive.
89 min: Milan work a series of throw-ins down the right …
90 min: Montolivo drives at goal yet again, it gets a huge deflection of Samuel and Handanovic can only watch as it spins just wide of the post.
90+2 min: Some lovely interplay on the of the box ends with the ball popped through to Robinho, who has strayed offside. Milan have really lacked quality tonight. Despite all the pressure, they've been hugely disappointing.
PEEP! PEEP! PEEEEEEEEP! It's all over! And does that mean it's all over for Allegri?
Handbags in the centre circle? Sort of. Barely even purses, really. After the players drift apart Stramaccioni goes to celebrate with the Inter fans, while Milan trudge off sadly. In truth, the Rossoneri were awful. No invention, no shape, no real plan to break Inter down either faced with 10 men or 11, too many players who simply aren't up to the standard set by the club over the years. In particular, Bojan looks a player sadly destined to drift away from the top echelons of the game. The front four were incredibly average for a group of attacking players wearing the black and red. Curtains for Allegri? We'll find out over the next few days.
Right, that's it from me. Thanks for your emails. Cheerio!