Donnarumma a picture of mature calm amid derby noise

By Sports Desk September 21, 2019

City derbies, with their heady blend of familiarity and ferocity, can make enemies of neighbours and friends at the best of times.

In Saturday's Derby della Madonnina, Inter ultimately secured the bragging rights through an authoritative 2-0 win, but midway through the first-half their wing-back Danilo D'Ambrosio was likely ruing Gianluigi Donnarumma's pre-match words.

"With D'Ambrosio, I have a beautiful relationship," the Italy and Milan goalkeeper told DAZN. "He is my compatriot and he also lives near me."

Best mates with the opposition are we, Danilo? Probably best not to hit the post from three yards out with the goal gaping in that case.

In truth, it was a slice of fortune Donnarumma earned on a day when longevity and goalkeeping greatness were a focus in Serie A.

Gianluigi Buffon played his 902nd club match earlier on Saturday as Juventus battled to a 2-1 home win over Hellas Verona, matching the mark set by Milan great Paolo Maldini.

Donnarumma entered senior football as a fully formed teen sensation, already dubbed Buffon's heir. He was also on the books at Milan from the age of 14, steeped in the history of a club defined by one-club men like Maldini. They were big gloves and boots to fill.

Still only 20, he has travelled plenty of road since then. For a long time, none of it felt particularly smooth.

Mino Raiola's typically bombastic attempts to engineer more money and a blockbusting transfer for his client drove a wedge between Donnarumma and the Milan faithful. Then there was the steady drip, drip, drip of errors that threatened to become a deluge.

When Inter beat Milan 1-0 11 months ago, Mauro Icardi – another man well-versed in player-fan relations – scored the winner after a wretched misjudgement from the Rossoneri keeper. On this occasion, it often felt like Donnarumma and his 6ft 5in frame was the only realistic bridge between a yawning gulf in class.

His first big save came in the 18th minute, thwarting Romelu Lukaku after Lautaro Martinez's cute pass played in his strike partner.

Donnarumma's stop to deny the impressive Martinez was stunning three minutes later, with D'Ambrosio on the rebound seemingly one of those briefly distracted.

There was no suggestion of a neighbourly favour when the Inter man propelled himself skywards for a thumping overhead kick. Again, Donnarumma saved and an offside verdict meant Martinez converted the rebound in vain.

A cruel deflection from Marcelo Brozovic's speculative 49th-minute strike felt like the only way Donnarumma was likely to be beaten at that stage, although Inter's 100 per cent start to the Serie A season scarcely seemed under threat from that point.

A bustling Lukaku is brimming with confidence and directed home a fine header to seal victory. Antonio Conte has always felt his best teams operated near their peak with a "point of reference" striker. Inter have that in Lukaku and he might just take them all the way to the Scudetto.

Milan's aims under Marco Giampaolo must be more modest after they managed a solitary shot on target over the course of the 90 minutes – the exciting front two of Krzysztof Piatek and Rafael Leao too frequently isolated as playmaker Suso faded to the margins.

But in Donnarumma they have a young man who has weathered a storm, partially of his own making, and is back on the road to superstardom. He and Milan might yet enjoy a beautiful relationship of their own.

Related items

  • Danilo back in Juventus training ahead of Bologna match Danilo back in Juventus training ahead of Bologna match

    Danilo has returned to full training with Juventus after recovering from a thigh injury

    The 28-year-old, who joined from Manchester City in August, was forced off during the 2-1 win at Brescia on September 24.

    However, the club announced Danilo took part in Wednesday's session at Juventus Training Centre. He may now be involved in Saturday's home league clash with Bologna.

    Aaron Ramsey, who missed Wales' Euro 2020 qualifiers against Slovakia and Croatia because of a slight muscle injury, also took part in light training.

    Right-back Mattia De Sciglio and winger Douglas Costa are on personalised training programmes, Juventus announced on their website, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic were granted an extra day off following their international exertions.

    Juventus are top of Serie A after making a seven-game unbeaten start to the campaign.

  • PSG midfielder Gueye out for 10 days with hamstring injury PSG midfielder Gueye out for 10 days with hamstring injury

    Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye has been ruled out of action for 10 days with a hamstring injury.

    Gueye, who joined PSG from Everton in July, is expected to miss their games against Nice and Club Brugge over the next week.

    The Senegal international is also a major doubt for the league clash with Marseille on Sunday 27.

    A statement on PSG's official website read: "Idrissa Gueye felt hamstring pain and today's exams confirmed a contracture. He will be away from training for the next 10 days."

    Gueye has made eight appearances for PSG since his move, with the Ligue 1 champions winning each of those matches.

    PSG discovered on Monday that star forward Neymar will miss around a month after also suffering a hamstring injury while on international duty with Brazil.

    Thomas Tuchel's side are two points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after nine matches.

  • When it snows, I'm a viking - Zlatan Ibrahimovic ready for Minnesota cold When it snows, I'm a viking - Zlatan Ibrahimovic ready for Minnesota cold

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic vowed he would draw on his inner "viking" as he weighed up the prospect of playing in the snow at Minnesota United in the MLS play-offs.

    Ibrahimovic has packed his career with bold claims, regularly referring to himself as a "lion", and he remains bullish despite the potentially tricky conditions at Allianz Field on Sunday.

    LA Galaxy have returned to the post-season but face a tough trip to surprise package Minnesota, who have hosted snow games in the past in the colder months of the year.

    Star Galaxy striker Ibrahimovic, born in Sweden, does not foresee any adverse weather being an issue for himself or LA.

    "I'm from Sweden, I was born in the snow," the 38-year-old said in an interview posted on Galaxy's Twitter page.

    "When it snows, I'm a viking. When it's warm, I'm a lion. We adjust for every condition there is."

    Ibrahimovic scored 30 goals in 29 regular season games in 2019, leading LA back to the play-offs after missing out in his first MLS campaign following a remarkable final-day collapse by the team last year.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.