Commentary

Why Inter will beat AC Milan

If it doesn't let Milan get out to an early lead, Inter has the advantage on the ground

Updated: March 31, 2011, 2:28 PM ET
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Stats and Information
Wesley SneijderTullio M. Puglia/Getty ImagesWesley Sneijder needs to have a big game if Inter is going to beat Milan this time around.

On Saturday night in Milan, one of the oldest derbies in Europe will be renewed as Inter Milan and AC Milan match up for the 276th time. But it's hard to imagine there ever being one with the two sides so close in the race for the scudetto this late in the season.

How close you might ask?

With just a few matches left in the season, Milan has 62 points, and Inter has 60. Using ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) we can simulate the remainder of the Serie A season 10,000 times to find things like how often a club wins the league, how often it makes the Champions League or how often it is relegated.

So how often does each club finish at the top of the table in our simulation of Serie A? It's extremely close, with Inter at 42.2 percent and Milan at 42.1 percent.

This makes Serie A by far the most compelling race in Europe. According to SPI, Barcelona (94 percent), Manchester United (75 percent) and Borussia Dortmund (99 percent) are all heavy favorites to win their respective domestic leagues. Inter and Milan on the other hand have been going back and forth all year with neither taking a commanding lead in the actual or simulated table at any point in time.

SPI can also project individual matches. Here are the chances it gives each club in the derby on Saturday.

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.