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May 4, 2014

Milan claim derby spoils against Inter

ESPN FC's Steve Nicol recaps the final Milan derby of this campaign.


With Milan and Inter both struggling to an extent this year, the Derby della Madonnina was undoubtedly more about restoring pride if not the chase for Europa League football. A rare Nigel De Jong goal ensured that Milan had bragging rights over Inter, with the win moving the Rossoneri within three points of their bitter city rivals.

Clarence Seedorf made both tactical and personnel changes by opting for a diamond midfield, and while the game was perhaps mostly uneventful in comparison to memorable derbies of old, its importance should not be undervalued in the context of the season.

The importance of qualifying for Europe was still stressed after the game, and it is evident that the objective is to secure a top-five finish which will give some sort of sense of salvation.

Meanwhile, De Jong also had a message for his beleaguered coach, dedicating the victory to Seedorf as he felt as though his position had been talked about too much this week.

The Dutch tactician has yet to receive public backing from the club given the speculation over his future, and inevitably that leads to suggestions that all is not well within the club, particularly with the relationship between Galliani and Seedorf.

A message of unity continues to be spread by all concerned at the club, and while there were suggestions that Seedorf perhaps over-thinks and talks too much to his players about tactics and such, there is no argument in terms of his efficiency and importantly winning the derby as a coach.

Seedorf explained his decision-making process after the game, and it was fascinating to hear him discuss his plan to limit the threat posed by the likes of Mauro Icardi and Rodrigo Palacio whilst also singling out the importance of Esteban Cambiasso. Walter Mazzarri conceded in his postgame interview that his side were poor in defeat, as they failed to even register a single shot on target while they appeared to lack both adrenaline and conviction in comparison to Milan, according to their coach.

With a clash against Lazio awaiting the Nerazzurri next weekend while Milan travel to Atalanta, there will likely be more twists and turns in the race for Europe before the season concludes, but ultimately Milan have boosted morale with such a result at the bare minimum.

Meanwhile, Seedorf thanked his players after the game for their "professionalism and loyalty" in the performance on Sunday night and essentially that is exactly what they needed to show given the circumstances.

While he hinted at the possibility of switching to the 4-3-1-2 formation on a more regular basis moving forward into next season, it was also suggested that it was in line with what Silvio Berlusconi wants to see in terms of system, while Seedorf continued to preach about his philosophy.

If he can now build on this combination and make steady progress by evolving the style of play, then it may well become irrelevant over what is said to the media as ultimately the goal is to see Milan be successful on a consistent basis.

What are your thoughts on the derby win over Inter?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow Sumeet on Twitter @italiafooty