At their joint stadium, San Siro, city rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan will square off in the first of two spectacular derbies over the course of six days.
The Calcio titans will compete for a first leg advantage before next week’s finale at the same historic stadium, with a spot in the Champions League final on the line.
For the first time since the 2005 season, Inter Milan and AC Milan square off in the UEFA Champions League (UCL). That matchup ended in a Milan victory after the second leg was called off because Inter fans let off flares near the field of play. The two clubs fight in the fourth Derby della Madonnina of the season with neither side guaranteed of UCL participation for the following season via the league, and everyone is hoping that the football makes the news this time.
That adds further intrigue to Milan’s second consecutive all Italian UCL matches, since they defeated Napoli, the team that just won the Serie A title, 2-1 on aggregate. Since they haven’t lost since then (W2, D2) and all four of those games included exactly two goals, there is every reason to anticipate a cautious opening to this semifinal.
But Inter have dominated recent head to head matches (W3, D1, L1), and after defeating Benfica 5-3 on aggregate to advance, they’ll aim to continue winning three of the past four encounters with their neighbors from San Siro “to nil” (L). Although, they appear to be in the lead based on recent head to head results, they haven’t triumphed as the ‘away side’ at the San Siro since February 2021 (D2, L1) as they attempt to duplicate their 2-0 victory against Benfica in the first leg of the quarterfinal in Portugal.
Inter will start as favorites despite being the designated away team on the day because they have won their past five games, four of which they did not concede, and they are also unbeaten in seven away competitive games (W4, D3). After defeating Roma 2-0 on Saturday, defender Matteo Darmian said: “We know that we’ll have to produce a very focused performance.” They still realize they face a difficult fight against their greatest rivals to make top eight.
In Milan’s second leg match against Napoli, Olivier Giroud opened the scoring with his fifth UCL goal of the year four of which came between the 40th and 60th minute. In Inter’s last three games, Lautaro Martnez has scored four goals, three of which came after the 75th minute.
Olivier Giroud, Theo Hernandez, and Sandro Tonali all made their comebacks for Milan’s 2-0 victory over Lazio at the weekend after the team struggled against Cremonese a few days before.
Rafael Leao, whose performance was cut short by a muscular injury early in the first half, was replaced by Alexis Saelemaekers, raising questions about his readiness for Wednesday. Saelemaekers might fill in again if the Portuguese forward is unable to recover rather than Ante Rebic being brought back up.
The only other alteration made by Stefano Pioli may be Brahim Diaz taking the place of Junior Messias on the right flank of a recognizable 4-2-3-1 formation. Only Tommaso Pobega and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are expected to miss out due to injuries, and the latter is not registered for the Champions League in any event.
While Lautaro Martinez, Edin Dzeko, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were initially benched by Inter for the match on Saturday at Stadio Olimpico, all three players could start for Inter in midweek.
Romelu Lukaku, who has just found his flow again, will likely have other plans, as Simone Inzaghi has recently noticed improvement in the Belgian’s formerly fruitful partnership with Martinez. Therefore, if the storied “Lu-La” partnership was to rejoin, Dzeko would be marginalized.
Milan Skriniar, who will soon depart San Siro for Paris, is also out due to injury, joining Robin Gosens, but Danilo D’Ambrosio might make a comeback after resolving a muscular issue.
AC Milan possible starting lineup
Maignan, Calabria, Tomori, Kjaer, Hernandez, Tonali, Krunic, Diaz, Bennacer, Saelemaekers and Giroud.
Inter Milan possible starting lineup
Onana, Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni, Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco, Martinez and Lukaku.
We Predict: AC Milan 0-1 Inter Milan
With so much on the line and both teams emphasizing safety first football, the match is sure to be fiercely contested, and after the first 90 minutes, it might only be decided by one goal.
The Nerazzurri are expected to lead their Rossoneri rivals going into next week’s Champions League match because Inter has a more extensive pool of attacking potential and they have lately started playing at full strength.