Inzaghi says Inter cannot end Milan's Scudetto hopes as derby weekend arrives

By Sports Desk February 04, 2022

Simone Inzaghi scoffed at the idea Inter might kill off Milan's title hopes in Saturday's derby, as he claimed even Juventus remain in the Scudetto hunt.

A victory for Inter would move them seven points clear of Milan, while also having the advantage of a game in hand.

Inzaghi's Inter will be the home side at the San Siro stadium the teams share, and the Nerazzurri lead the way at the top of Serie A after losing just one of their opening 22 games.

It would be hard to see Milan coming back from defeat to their great rivals, but Inzaghi is not discounting the prospect.

Asked if three points for Inter would count out Milan, Inzaghi said: "I don't think so. There are another 15 matches to go and we all saw what happened in the first half of the season. We were seven points behind and drew the derby and still managed to close the gap."

Milan made a flying start to the season but were reeled in, with 2021-22 carrying distinct echoes of how the 2020-21 campaign panned out.

Then, it was Antonio Conte pulling the strings as Inter charged through to capture the title, and now it is Inzaghi's turn, with a first Scudetto of his coaching career beckoning.

He triumphed in Serie A as a player with Sven-Goran Eriksson's double-winning Lazio in 1999-2000, and is not getting ahead of himself this time.

"It's an important game and we know how much it means to the fans," Inzaghi said of derby day. "But there are 45 points and a lot of football to play before we can draw any conclusions.

"I played in lots of derbies and there's never a favourite. Tomorrow will be no different: it's a game that will be won by fine margins. It will come down to our motivation."

Inter have lost only one of their last 11 Serie A meetings against Milan. That defeat was a 2-1 setback in October 2020, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring twice in the opening 16 minutes. Inter have won six and drawn four of those 11 games, with Milan keeping a clean sheet just once.

Most signs point to Inter giving up no ground to their city rivals this weekend. Their last Serie A home defeat was that 2020 loss to Milan, and they are undefeated in 28 games since in the competition when hosting.

Inzaghi won just three of 10 Serie A games against Milan while serving as head coach at Lazio, and his Inter side drew 1-1 with Stefano Pioli's Rossoneri earlier this season.

For obvious reasons, Inzaghi would dearly love a win this time. Napoli and Milan both enter the weekend as Inter's closest challengers, four points back and having played one game more than Inzaghi's men.

Despite this position of strength, Inzaghi said the title race was "all still open".

"Besides Milan and Napoli, there's Atalanta and Juventus, who are very good teams," Inzaghi told a news conference, according to Inter's website.

"Juventus have been doing really well in the last two months and they've made some great signings. All of the teams down to Juventus could win the Scudetto."

Juventus raided Fiorentina last week to sign Dusan Vlahovic, the exciting Serbian forward who hit 33 goals in Serie A in 2021, and that should fortify Massimiliano Allegri's fifth-placed Bianconeri for a push into the Champions League places.

Juve are 11 points off the top, also having played 23 games to Inter's 22. Atalanta are a point better off than Juve, occupying fourth spot.

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