Sport Milan midfielder Kessie tells Inter: We will win the derby
Milan wait on Ibrahimovic, Rebic and Calhanoglu as Pioli braces for injury verdicts on star trio
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and goal hero Ante Rebic both came off with injuries in the second half of Milan's thrilling win over Roma in Serie A.After going close to scoring four times in the opening 10 minutes, Ibrahimovic's influence on the Serie A tussle began to diminish and he was substituted early in the second half.
Milan midfielder Franck Kessie has declared the Rossoneri will win Sunday's derby against Serie A leaders Inter.
The 174th Milan derby in Serie A history will be the first since April 2011 that sees the two teams occupying the top two spots in the table.
That game ended in a 3-0 win for Milan that helped to propel them to their most recent Scudetto triumph, but Inter have the form heading into the latest contest: they have won four of the previous five encounters and are a point clear at the top of the table after winning 12 of their previous 15 league games.
Stefano Pioli's side have lost three times in seven Serie A matches, as many as in their previous 41, and this year have already surpassed the two league losses they suffered in the whole of 2020.
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ALVISE CAGNAZZO: The penny appeared to drop for Eriksen when Inter beat Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia last month, with the Dane playing as a deep lying playmaker for the first time. © Provided by Daily Mail Antonio Conte has made the decision to change Christian Eriksen's (centre) position © Provided by Daily Mail Conte (left) deemed Eriksen unsuitable to play as a wide midfielder in his system but has now earmarked the talented Dane to play in a new, deeper role where he can pull the strings In that game at the base of the midfield, he won possession back more often than any of his team-mates and comp
Still, Kessie is in no doubt about their chances of moving back to the top with a victory at San Siro.
"There are still a lot of games left. And even if it seems there are lots of difficulties, we'll win the derby and return to the top of the table," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
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"We're a group that has grown through difficulty. We believe in the Scudetto. Everyone knows that, in Italy, you can beat the leaders and lose against the side bottom of the table. You don't have to be worried."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 10 times in Milan derbies, with eight of those goals coming for Milan, including three in their two meetings this season.
The veteran striker netted twice in the 2-1 win in October in the reverse league fixture and opened the scoring in the Coppa Italia quarter-final last month, but he was then sent off in a game Milan went on to lose 2-1.
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Kessie, though, is backing his team-mate to step up and take a penalty against his old club if the chance comes his way.
"If there's a penalty, Ibra will take it. And he'll be happy with the result," Kessie said.
"From a technical point of view, he is unsurpassed. As a team-mate, he always gives you something more. You don't often find champions with this personality."
Kessie has developed into a key part of Pioli's plans. The 24-year-old has played 31 times in all competitions in 2020-21 and won a combined 150 tackles and duels, the most of any midfielder at the club.
Kessie's leadership on the pitch has helped him to earn the nickname of 'the president' – although he revealed there is another side to that story.
He explained: "I once arrived at Milanello and parked in [former CEO Ivan] Gazidis' spot. They told me I couldn't park there, and I replied, 'What's the problem? I'm the new CEO of Milan'."
Conte left satisfied after derby win as Eriksen and Perisic receive praise .
Inter moved four points clear at the Serie A summit, with Christian Eriksen and Ivan Perisic playing leading roles.The Nerazzurri moved four points clear at the top of Serie A thanks to a resounding triumph in the derby on Sunday, Lautaro Martinez scoring in each half at San Siro.