Davide Calabria believes that AC Milan are a changed team from the one that lost four derbies earlier this year, and he also thinks that rivalry is one that will go on all season.
Saturday marks the first instalment of the Derby della Madonnina for 2023-24 with Inter the designated home team. Both sides have won three games out of three to begin the campaign and thus sit at the top of the table.
The Rossoneri are itching to get some revenge after a one-sided set of games last season in which they won one game out of five and lost in both the Supercoppa final in Saudi Arabia and the Champions League semi-finals to their neighbours.
Calabria gave an interview to SportMediaset two days before Saturday’s game to preview the occasion and document what has changed for Milan over the summer, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
What changes to have the derby after the break?
“The difference is that you have little time to prepare for it with all the players. But it’s nothing new, also because the derby practically prepares itself…”
How are you feeling during the build-up to the derby?
“Positively. A lot has changed within the team, both in terms of players and movements. I’m positive, I don’t have to think about anything other than playing a football match. I think it’s right to get there as calmly as possible, on the day of the match then feel the emotions inside.”
How did you explain to your new team-mates what the derby means?
“They will see it, but I think they have already understood it by seeing our fans both away and at home… We are always followed by a lot of fans. There are very few atmospheres like the derby. I hope that the new players will enjoy it from the first to the last minute.”
Are Milan stronger than last year?
“In my opinion, yes. Strong, functional players arrived who gave us a hand right from the start and who immediately fit into the group.”
Will you try recreate the cross for Leao’s goal in Rome?
“Rafa and I had been talking about this thing for a few months… I’m happy that he managed to score a goal like this, super fantastic.”
How much of a boost can Leao give?
“I see Leao as much more mature, more attentive in any situation of the game. He can still improve, because I think I can score all the goals he wants.
“Few in the world have this power. He’s a golden boy. There are moments of highs and low, he doesn’t have to think about solving these matches alone. Then it’s clear that his strength is a plus point for us.”
How will you stop Lautaro?
“He’s a great player, I can only speak well of him, he’s a top player. He’s put us in difficulty in the last few games, but we’re preparing to limit a player like that.”
How important is it to arrive at the derby in top condition?
“It’s fundamental. It’s human that there are ups and downs. Last year they were better than us. We’re arriving better than in the last derbies. I’m super confident, I see a team that’s ready and willing to perform.”
How have Milan improved?
“We have more solutions, we have more players suited to our game. Players who already have experience, who raise the level of the team.
“They fit in great, it was what we expected. Maybe some people thought they weren’t the right signings, but from the first day it was obvious that it would not be like this…”
How much do you care about giving derby satisfaction to the fans?
“Obviously we want to win. It will be a derby all year round. They are two great teams who always face each other with great respect. May the best win.”