MILAN ( Associated Press) – The Italian Super Cup between Milan and Inter will serve as an appetizer for next month’s main course.
The classic rivals will meet on Wednesday at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the first Italian football trophy of the season up for grabs. But they will also be watching their Serie A clash at the San Siro on February 5.
Milan, the defending Calcio champions, are second in the league, nine points behind leaders Napoli, and just one unit ahead of Juventus and Inter.
“It is another trophy that is within our reach,” Milan side Sergino Deste said of Wednesday’s commitment. “He has the same ambition as us. It is up to us to make sure that we take the initiative from the first minute and show that we love him more than anything.
Milan have been in a bleak mood since Serie A resumed this month following a seven-and-a-half-week World Cup break in Qatar.
They beat Salernitana but then squandered a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Roma and crashed out of the Coppa Italia after losing to a 10-man Torino squad on Wednesday.
More worryingly for coach Stefano Pioli, the Rossoneri conceded two first-half goals when they visit Lecce on Saturday before rallying to rescue a point.
“It was the first time we deviated from our game plan in a long time,” Pioli said after the draw in Lecce. “We never failed with the game plan, never … Things went wrong for us, and that really surprised me.”
“It is clear that our level has to improve and we have to do it soon, because on Wednesday an important objective is coming for us,” he said.
The Super Cup pits the champion of Serie A against the winner of the Italian Cup.
Milan have won the trophy seven times, one more than Inter, and beat the Nerazzurri in the 2011 edition. But Inter are the current Super Cup champions.
The Nerazzurri started the year better than Milan, except for a 2–2 draw at Monza. They won their other league games including one against Napoli. They also defeated Parma to reach the quarter-finals of the Italian Cup.
A new world champion with Argentina, Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez has drilled through the net in his last three games with Inter, scoring nine goals in the league.
“The Super Cup is very important,” said Martinez. “We are a big club and we have to get used to winning titles, playing finals and winning trophies.”
“We have the quality and the club’s history compels you to win. We want to bring the Super Cup back to Milan.”
The trophy will return to Milan, but it remains to be seen where in the city.