Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Milan derby marks new era

Published:Saturday | November 19, 2016 | 11:00 AM
Berlusconi

ROME (AP):

It will likely be Silvio Berlusconi's final derby as AC Milan owner. And the first for Inter's new Chinese proprietors.

Plus Silvio Pioli's debut as coach of struggling Inter.

Combined with the rise of Milan's youth-oriented squad after several difficult seasons, tomorrow's match is being celebrated both as the end of an era and a time of new beginnings.

"It seems like a different derby compared to the last several, in terms of interest, tickets, standings and the new developments in club ownership," Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said.

Berlusconi, who purchased Milan 30 years ago, is expected to close a deal next month selling his majority stake in the club to a Chinese investor group that includes the participation of a Chinese state investment fund.

While seven-time European champion Milan have not qualified for continental play for three consecutive seasons, the Rossoneri have seen a turnaround this season under first-year coach Vincenzo Montella.

Relying on 17-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, 18-year-old midfielder Manuel Locatelli and forward M'Baye Niang, a relative veteran at 21, Montella has guided Milan to third place with a new sense of team unity.

"After all these difficult years full of problems which I'm not going to list now, this might be the first time that we're re-establishing a close-knit group," Milan midfielder Andrea Poli said. "We're on the right road and we've got to continue along this path."

Inter, meanwhile, are languishing in ninth place with just as many losses - five - as wins this season.

Pioli, the former Chievo Verona and Lazio coach, was hired last week to replace the fired Frank de Boer.

De Boer was hired less than two weeks before the season began following the unexpected resignation of Roberto Mancini, who reportedly wanted more control over the transfer market and clashed with Suning, the Chinese retail giant that took control of 70 percent of Inter in June.

Inter have a wide array of top-quality players - such as Mauro Icardi, who tops the Serie A scoring chart alongside Roma's Edin Dzeko with 10 goals each, plus Croatia midfielder Ivan Perisic, Montenegro forward Stevan Jovetic and Italy internationals Eder and Antonio Candreva - but the Nerazzurri were inconsistent and appeared confused under De Boer.