For the first time since the 2002-03 season, the two Milan juggernauts Milan and Inter lock horns in the first leg of the two-legged Champions League semi-final in a battle which could potentially lead either of them to glory at the end of the tournament.
Milan approach this match on the back of a 9-game unbeaten run across all competitions but due to some inflicting draws over the course, they still remain 2 points short of the top four places in the Serie A standings. Manager Stefano Pioli has indeed stressed his team on performing well in the Champions League and undoubtedly, that has bore fruit for them, although compromising on several occasions in the league.
The Rossoneri have conceded only one goal in the UCL knockout stages while over the four matches against Tottenham in the Round of 16 and Napoli in the quarter-finals, they have scored six goals, thus imposing their superiority in European competition. After Napoli’s emphatic season, Milan were rarely termed as the favourites to progress from the last-eight clash, but once again, seven times Champions League winners proved that they haven’t shed their DNA in UCL nights, to show character and impose dominance.
Meanwhile, Inter will have an opportunity to stretch their winning run to six games in a row. Their recent formidable run in the league have made them soar through past neighbourhood rivals Milan in the league standings to fourth place and during the course of this run, they have exhibited pure dominance by scoring 15 goals across five matches while only conceding once against Lazio.
The Nerazzurri have already faced Milan thrice this season and Simone Inzaghi’s men have won their last two, including the Supercoppa Italiana final. The Rossoneri also haven’t been able to score past Inter in their previous two encounters and this will be a key psychological advantage, Simone Inzaghi will have over his counterpart, Stefano Pioli.
The three-time Champions League winners last enjoyed competing at this stage back in 2010 under manager Jose Mourinho, and during that historic season, they clinched the treble. Rest assured, it will be a thrilling Milan derby.
Results from their last five matches across all competitions
W D D W D
W W W W W
Milan readied their key players like Olivier Giroud, Theo Hernandez and Sandro Tonali against Lazio for this Champions League clash.
Although Rafael Leao was subbed off early due to a muscular injury, he has assured the fans about his presence in the upcoming games. Alexis Saelemaekers deputised for the Portuguese quite efficiently and may have to do the same in tomorrow’s fixture.
Tommaso Pobega and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will continue their recovery from the sidelines. while Brahim Diaz and Junior Messias will compete for a starting position.
As for Inter, Lautaro Martinez, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Edin Dzeko will start the match after being initially rested against Roma.
Romelu Lukaku’s recent form means he is back in contention for a starting role but Simone Inzaghi will have to seriously consider the option.
Milan Skriniar and Robin Gosens will be sidelined for this match.
Milan (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Kjaer, Hernandez; Tonali, Krunic; Diaz, Bennacer, Saelemaekers; Giroud
Inter (3-5-2): Onana; Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Martinez, Lukaku
Trambak Bhattacherjee | GIFN