Will AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella choose Bacca or Lapadula up front?

The Derby della Madonnina is fast approaching and AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella faces one of the more difficult selection headaches he has encountered since taking charge at the San Siro.

The 42-year-old must decide whether Carlos Bacca or Gianluca Lapadula gets the nod up front against Inter on Sunday night, and it's a crucial decision that he must get right in order to give his side the best possible chance of winning.

Both forwards have strong arguments to start, but only one can lead the line against the Nerazzurri and it is down to Montella to decide who will be most effective in the biggest game of the season thus far.

With one eye on Juventus and Roma above them, a win this weekend would ensure that Milan protect their three-point lead over the chasing pack for third place in Serie A, while a win over their city rivals would be boost in itself for all concerned.

Why Bacca should start

The Colombia international is going through a frustrating goal drought currently, but he still remains a world-class finisher. In a game in which chances might be scarce, the Rossoneri need a clinical individual up front to make the most of any opportunities. With 26 goals in 55 appearances since joining Milan, Bacca remains the most reliable option.

Furthermore, when Montella dropped him to the bench previously this season, it led to struggles against Sampdoria before the 30-year-old was re-introduced and scored the winning goal.

Bacca's experience, particularly in big games at this level, could come to the fore in this encounter and regardless of his lack of confidence in front of goal right now, he can be a matchwinner on his day. That certainly stands in his favour.

Although he's had his issues with Montella this season, the Italian tactician will know that it's a safer option to stick with his usual first-choice striker in the hope that he delivers and ends his barren run.

Why Lapadula should start

There are few players as confident as the former Pescara man currently. Fresh from scoring his first goal for the club in the win at Palermo prior to the international break, Lapadula also received his first Italy call-up last week.

In turn, he'll be desperate to keep the momentum going and build on his recent success, and it will be a difficult decision for Montella to put the brakes on such progress. The 26-year-old is also the fresher of the pair after Bacca travelled to South America for the international break only to be benched by Colombia.

However, the most important factor in all of this is which player fits Montella's system best and who will influence the game even if they struggle for chances during the encounter.

If Bacca isn't provided with service and is marshalled out of the game by the opposing defence, the former Sevilla striker will be largely anonymous. Ultimately, it's not part of his game to do other jobs -- in terms of holding up play or linking to the midfield -- effectively as his strengths are in the penalty box and finding the back of the net.

In that regard, Lapadula offers much more. His energy, ability to run the channels, harass and press from the front, and involve himself in general play make him a better fit for Montella.

Although he had to wait for his first Milan goal, he's now overcome that hurdle with a late winning goal and, as shown at Pescara last season with 30 goals in 46 appearances, he knows how to find the back of the net on a regular basis.

Perhaps a consistent run of games for the Rossoneri will bring that out in him again, but Montella has to decide whether or not that starts in the derby this weekend as his side look to continue their push for a top three finish.


Lapadula should really be the preference on Sunday night, as his all-round game is more effective than Bacca's.

While the veteran forward does offer his own assurances, Milan can't afford for him to be absent in this one if things aren't going to plan. An energetic and committed Lapadula leading by example can set the tone for the rest of the team and, as mentioned above, he will never be more confident and eager to play as he is currently.

It's a significant call that Montella will have to assess meticulously, but having a matchwinner in Bacca up your sleeve to come off the bench in a game such as this might be the perfect solution, while it would also give Lapadula a chance to continue his memorable November.