Serie A needs AC Milan and Inter Milan to overcome their current malaises to become the leading horses in Italian football once again.
The pair prepare to clash at the San Siro on Sunday evening, but the excitement of old has vanished given their current lowly predicaments.
Juventus now dominate the domestic scene having bulldozed their way to three consecutive league titles under the stewardship of Antonio Conte, yet if the Milan duo shine under Filippo Inzaghi and Roberto Mancini they could usher in a new, exciting era of football in the country.
Along with the Old Lady, both Milan and Inter are widely recognised as the best, most prestigious sides in Italy and boast 10 Champions League titles between them. When they used to meet it was a game that would draw in millions of people from around the world, and arguably second to El Clasico in the most exciting derby contest on the planet.
It used to be an occasion befitting of gladiators and a stage where the world’s greatest players could stand up and be counted. Milan used to possess the likes of Andriy Shevchenko, Kaka, Paolo Maldini, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Marco van Basten amongst others. Players that are widely recognised, and rightly so, as legends of the game.
Inter themselves have had greats such as Javier Zanetti, Gabriel Batistuta, Christian Vieri, Andrea Pirlo and Luis Figo in their ranks. The side that will line up for Mancini’s first game of his second spell will look considerably dwarfed in comparison.
One reason the two sides are currently stuck in a rut is down to the way finances have been handled and spent on players. Since Juventus’ dominance they have found it hard attracting big names to the San Siro, and have had to settle for players either reaching the end of their career or unwanted elsewhere.
In recent years, Milan has become a haven to Premier League rejects. Amid the wreckage of Clarence Seedorf’s brief reign at the club last term, he lured Adel Taarabt to the club on loan with the hope he could transform his own fortunes. The Queens Park Rangers midfielder has since returned to London and cannot get a game for Harry Redknapp’s men.
Robinho is another who, despite recently departing, hung about for far too long. The former Manchester City winger was once worthy of £32 million, but after his performances in Italy heads back to his native Brazil as another example of unfulfilled potential.
Inter have been similarly guilty. Dani Osvaldo was signed in the summer on loan from Southampton but has struggled to make an impact. Nemanja Vidic also touched down on the back of a successful spell with Manchester United but is already being linked with a stunning return to Old Trafford.
There is yet hope that the pair return to the top of the game to recapture the magic of the Milan derby. It is one of football’s most exciting fixtures and, if they can do it, will allow Serie A to become better as a direct consequence.