Derby della Madonnina: A complete guide to the beautiful derby
Marco Materazzi and Rui Costa converge as the derby reaches boiling point in 2005. Image: sportzwiki.com

With the world renowned Derby della Madonnina taking place at the San Siro on Sunday night, the whole host of football fans across the globe will be tuning in to see if it will be the Nerazzurri or the Rossoneri that manages to put one over on their famous enemy.

Difficult beginnings

Herbert Kilpin, a Nottingham-born butcher, and his friend Alfred Edwards, had created the Milan club as members of the Milanese high society aiming to draw the game of football from Genoa where it was already flourishing under the Genoa Cricket and Football Club title.

This is where the tale of cousins that were split from an early age by means of a not-so-trivial feud begins. Those who know the history will recall how a group of Italians had a Swiss friend who was not allowed to play at the Italian-favouring Milan Cricket and Football Club that was established in 1899.

As a result, Giorgio Muggiani and his associates set up FC Internazionale in 1908, with the words "It will be called Internazionale, because we are brothers of the world."

Kilpin's team had already adopted the Rossoneri colours, red and black. Black was used to represent the fear of the enemy, while the red was to signify the colour of the devil, hence the nickname 'il Diavolo', meaning 'The Devil'.

Herbert Kilpin - creator of Milan. Image: storiedcalcio

Inter adopted the blue and black colours, and though there is no official reason behind this, some say it was simply to be the opposite of their new rivals.

Little did they know that this split would form the basis for over a century of passion and hatred, the low points of a violent and volatile past which has been overcome by the banner displays of the respective Curvas lighting up the outskirts of urban Milan.

As for the legendary Stadio San Siro; well it only had one occupant until 1947, and that was AC Milan. Up until that point, Inter played their home games at the Arena Civica in more central Milan. The Arena Civica was constructed back in 1806 and resembled a colosseum type structure with a running track and a wide bowl of seating.

Each derby carries a tremendous importance to the citizens of such a historic and cultured city. Both sets of supporters argue their dominance over the other, with Milan claiming to be the rightful representatives of the city due to their earlier foundation, but it is easy to forget both clubs were essentially one and the same.

Derby landscape

The demographic of supporters has changed in recent times. Il Diavolo, occupying the southern end of the stadium, were typically referred to as "casciavit" or "screwdriver" due to the mainly working class 'blue-collar' following that the team had from it's foundation.

On the opposite end of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, a legendary Inter player who appeared for Milan also, are Internazionale of the Curva Nord. Unlike their counterparts, they drew a reputation for being a club of the bourgouise, earning the nickname 'il Bauscia', a Lombardian term meaning 'boaster'.

Politically, Inter were seen as more right wing due to the actions of certain ultra groups such as the CN69 (Curva Nord 1969, one of the oldest ultra groups in Italy). On the other hand, Milan were seen as more the club of the centre-left as they represented the working class community.

During the fascist regime of Italy leading up to the Second World War, Inter were forced to adopt the prefix 'Ambrosiana' and played in a white shirt with a red cross. This was due to the scheme in place to reduce the number of football teams to one per city, as was evidenced by the emergence of AS Roma, CF Fiorentina and SSC Napoli.

On a side note, it could be said that this is where the friendship between Internazionale and SS Lazio began, as Lazio were a team who opposed a merger with rival clubs (which became Roma) and as such it was a show of solidarity against the restructure. Also, Lazio have a right-wing tendency in certain ultra groups, which matches the aforementioned elements of the Inter fan base.

Rising from the ashes

The divide between the two clubs in terms of social class has certainly drawn closer due to the ownership of the respective clubs. Silvio Berlusconi, a politician more regarded as right than left, took the helm as President of his beloved AC Milan in 1986, saving the club from bankruptcy in the process.

Under Berlusconi, Milan have won every trophy under the sun, seeing some of the best footballers in the world wear the famous jersey. He invested vast sums of money to recruit players such as Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten, while nurturing players like Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini into world-class players.

The legendary Dutch trio of Gullit, van Basten and Rijkaard. Image: interleaning (tumblr)

Meanwhile, Inter elected a new club president in centre-left businessman Massimo Moratti, who took the helm in 1995 during a period where the club were regarded as perennial underachievers. He is said to have invested €1.5billion of his own fortune into the club, helping secure five Scudetti, four Coppa Italia titles, four Supercoppa Italia, one Champions League, one FIFA Club World Cup and one UEFA Cup.

Moratti transformed the Nerazzurri in the same way Berlusconi awoke the sleeping giant of Milan. Both of these men can be considered incredibly influential in making the match what it is today due to the level of success of both clubs.

Of course, when thinking of the Derby della Madonnina, which takes it's name from the statue of the Virgin Mary that sits upon the iconic Duomo in Milan, there are instantly a few games that spring to mind.

High stakes

Most notable are the elimination derbies between the teams, magnifying the stake and making the atmosphere that little bit more hostile if at all possible. To this point, Milan has 7 wins to the 2 of Inter, as the Rossoneri have undoubtedly been more successful in high-pressure situations than their city rivals.

The first was a 2-0 win in the 1976-77 Coppa Italia final in which Milan was victorious; goals from Aldo Malderi III and Giorgio Braglia in the second half capturing a 4th Coppa Italia title for the red half of the city.

Milan proceeded to win the next two elimination games, both over two legs in the knockout phase of the Italian Cup. The first, a crushing 7-1 aggregate victory in the 1984-85 leg of the competition, saw them eventually go on to lose in the final against Sampdoria. The second, in which a goalless draw in the first leg of the 1992-93 Cup set up a 3-0 away win in the second leg, saw Milan lose at the next stage again, this time to Roma in the semi-finals.

Inter won their first knockout game against their rivals two years later in the 1994-95 Coppa Italia, winning 4-2 on aggregate thanks to two 2-1 wins in the Round of 16 stage, but they failed to capitalise, losing 2-1 to Foggia in extra time in the quarter-finals.

Three years after that, in 1998, Milan defeated Inter 6-0 on aggregate, continuing the theme of dominance in knockout games, with a place in the semi-finals of the cup at stake. Inter got their revenge at the same stage in 1999-00, winning by a narrow 4-3 aggregate margin in a thrilling encounter that saw the likes of Andriy Shevchenko, Christian Vieri, Roberto Baggio and Clarence Seedorf all net.

Perhaps the most memorable of the elimination derbies are the two occasions on which the sides have met in the Champions League.

In 2002-03, Milan and Inter were drawn against each other for the first time in European football in the semi-final stage of the Champions League.

After a hotly contested 0-0 draw during Milan's 'home' first leg, the second game looked to be swinging in favour of the Rossoneri as Shevchenko netted in stoppage time of the first half. Obafemi Martins gave Interisti hope with an 84th minute equaliser, and Abbiati denied Martins in the dying seconds to secure a dramatic progression for Milan in front of over 81,000 spectators.

Inter fans will be reluctant to recall how their rivals went on to claim Champions League (and European Cup) number six with a victory on penalties over Juventus at Old Trafford, completing a clean sweep of their major Italian rivals for the Devils.

The pair were drawn together again in 2005 in the quarter-final phase of the Champions League, although this time it wasn't nearly as tight.

Milan took a first leg lead, winning 2-0 thanks to a goal in the final seconds of the half from Jaap Stam and a strike with 15 minutes left from Andriy Shevchenko, somebody who's name in synonymous with the Derby as one of the most influential protagonists.

The Ukranian scored again on the half hour mark of the second leg, making it 3-0 on aggregate, but what happened in the 72nd minute changed the way the world looked at the Derby della Madonnina.

Inter ultras began to protest with the way their team were performing; on the brink of another embarrassing elimination by their enemy, throwing flares onto the field. One struck the Rossoneri 'keeper Dida, forcing the referee to abandon the game, which UEFA eventually concluded should result in a 3-0 'walkover' win for Milan.

Inter were made to play their next four European games behind closed doors as punishment, but what will forever be recorded as a 5-0 aggregate defeat was punishment enough.

In 2011, the Beijing national stadium hosted the Supercoppa Italiana which happened to be the first meeting between the two Milan clubs in the competition history, something quite remarkable given the success of the two clubs, while also serving as a reminder of the trend that while one team thrives the other tends to struggle.

Milan won their seventh elimination derby out of nine in China, goals from former Inter star Zlatan Ibrahimović and Kevin-Prince Boateng cancelling out a stunning Wesley Sneijder free-kick.

Miranda and Carlos Bacca, two possible derby-day protagonists. Image: Gazzetta dello Sport.

Blue is the colour

Although the theme has so far been revealed of what is seemingly dominance from the red-and-black half of the city, it is important to note that Inter do in fact have the most victories in all competitions.

The Nerazzurri have won 60 of the 152 Serie A meetings (from 1929 onwards) between the clubs, while Milan has won ten less and there has been 52 draws.

In all competitions since the first meeting in 1908 the record favours Inter by a 76-74 margin in terms of wins, with 291 goals to 287 also favouring the blue-and-black.

Back in 1909-10, Inter won their first Scudetto in only their second season in existence. In the process, they defeated AC Milan by scores of 5-0 (away from home) and 5-1, meaning a 10-1 swing that season as Inter captured their first piece of glory.

In 1949, after the sides had played out an incredible 4-4 draw earlier in the season, there was an even more amazing 6-5 score line in the highest scoring Derby della Madonnina, something which is likely to never be broken. Milan led 2-0 early on, and 4-1, but Inter came storming back to take a 5-4 lead with goals from Nyers and Amadei. Parity was restored by Annovazzi on the hour mark, but Amadei won the game five minutes later as the teams remarkably played out a goalless remaining 25 minutes!

It is also hard to forget the highest margin of victory between the sides, when Milan humiliated Inter 6-0 in 2001. The teams were level on 44 points, well behind leaders Roma, but that wasn't to set the stage for what ensued. A brace from Commandini (his only goals for the club) set Milan on their way, with goals from Giunti, Shevchecko (2) and Serginho completing the rout.

The game is famous for the Inter fan who invaded the pitch at 6-0 and begged Costacurta to put an end to the pain. "Please! It's enough! Don't score anymore" was his plea.

Inter captured their first five Scudetti in 1919, 1920, 1930, 1938 and 1940. On the other hand, Milan were victorious in 1901, 1906 and 1907, but had to wait until 1951 for their next title.

The 'grass snakes' of Inter (which they adopted as the club symbol, due to the symbolic nature of serpents in Milan history, seen in the House of Visconti and lots in popular culture today) have always been slightly ahead in terms of success.

In the 1960s, it was all about 'Grande Inter' and the Catenaccio system invented by Austrian coach Karl Rappan. Players such as Helenio Herrera and Luis Suarez arrived from Barcelona as some of the very best in world football, adding to the likes of Giacinto Facchetti, Mario Corso and Sandro Mazzola.

'Grande Inter' - an iconic team of the 1960's. Image: sempreinter.

Winning two European Cups in this era with wins over Real Madrid and SL Benfica, and twice winning the Intercontinental Cup against Independiente, this set the tone for a wave of tactical adaptation in Serie A and changed the way teams set up forever.

Red September

For AC Milan, the dominant period was the 80s and the 90s. They won the Serie As five times in nine years between 1987 and 1996, the European Cup in 1989, 1990 and 1994, the Italian Supercoppa in 1988, 1992, 1993 and 1994. Add to that list UEFA Supercup titles in '89, '90 and '94, and Intercontinental Cups in 1989 and 1990, and you have quite the decade of dominance.

They have however been relegated twice from Serie A, unlike their rivals Inter who have been ever-present in the top flight of Italian football since 1929. After the 1979-80 season, Milan were punished by relegation after a match-fixing scandal, and despite making an instant return they suffered another setback as they reperformed when back in the top flight. This resulted in a second relegation in four seasons, something which Inter fans don't let their neighbours forget.

More are likely to remember how Inter won five league titles in a row from 2006-2010, taking advantage of a significantly weakened Juventus and Milan, the pinnacle being the treble under Mourinho in 2010 with successes in the Coppa Italia and Serie A complementing the incredible 'il Sogno' (The Dream) campaign in which Inter beat Bayern Munich in the final having eliminated the likes of Bayern Munich and Chelsea.

Brazil battles Argentina as Ronaldinho and Zanetti feature. Image: zimbio

Amazing grace

As for legends, both teams have had their fair share. Milan's greatest eleven is so tough to pick, but if one could conclude on something it would include icons like Sebastiano Rossi, Alessandro Costacurta, Alessandro Nesta, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Gianni Rivera, Gunner Nordahl, Marcel Desailly, Filippo Inzaghi and Clarence Seedorf. That's not to mention the recent high profile players such as Kaka, Ronaldinho, Andrea Pirlo, as well as Dutch trio Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit.

For Inter, the likes of Walter Zenga, Javier Zanetti, Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso and Ronaldo underpin a historic core including Luis Suarez, Giuseppe Meazza, Lothar Matthaus, Armando Picchi and Giacinito Faccheti.

Between the two teams, there is absolutely no end to the footballing masterclass. Everything incredible about these two teams is sewn into the fabric of football at various points in history. Each has had success and low points, with more to come no doubt.

There is so much that makes this derby in my opinion the best in the world. The tale of the split, the passion of the supporters and the history embroiled and entwined in one of the most fascinating footballing tapestries. The players to have graced both colours, the marvellous hallowed turf of the San Siro and representing one of the most cultured cities in the world.

The Derby della Madonnina is exactly how the title sounds; beautiful.

These great warriors do battle one again on Sunday, with so much at stake in the early portion of the season. Although the supporters may be from completely different ends of the spectrum, wrapped up in generations of tension and rivalry, they continue to be separated by just the length of a pitch.

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