- Inter head into the return leg of their colossal Champions League semi-final derby clash against Milan with a 2-0 lead
- The Rossoneri are looking likely to be able to welcome back key man Rafael Leao to their side alongside Rade Krunic but Ismael Bennacer is out for the season
- Simone Inzaghi’s side look unstoppable at the moment and are currently on a seven-match winning streak in all competitions
There’s good news for Milan heading into the second leg at the San Siro since it is looking extremely likely that Leao will be back in the side. The Portuguese winger was unable to feature in the first leg due to an adductor injury but has returned to training and his return provides a massive boost.
Krunic and Junior Messias were absent from Milan’s 2-0 defeat away to Spezia at the weekend, however, they are both expected to return for Tuesday’s affair, with Krunic in line to partner Sandro Tonali in the midfield. Bennacer, who picked up an injury in the first leg, will be out for the remainder of the campaign due to a knee injury.
Milan Skriniar remains the only real injury issue for Inter as his ongoing back injury continues. Robin Gosens made his return from a dislocated shoulder against Sassuolo on Saturday so he should be good to go, despite Federico Dimarco expected to get the nod at left wing-back.
It remains to be seen whether Inzaghi will prefer either Edin Dzeko or Romelu Lukaku up top, while he also has to choose his midfield three from Hakan Calhanoglu, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella.
Champions League Form
The Nerazzurri enter this one with a huge two-goal advantage after their first leg triumph in the ‘away’ leg last week. Goals from Dzeko and Mkhitaryan put Inter ahead after just 11 minutes of play in what was an electric start to the match. Calhanoglu could have even added a third just minutes later when he struck the post from range.
Milan struggled to create much of note in the first half as they lacked any real firepower in their attack. The match settled from there and Stefano Pioli’s side did improve in the second period through the likes of Brahim Diaz and Messias but they couldn’t pull a goal back. Tonali would be denied by the post later on but overall it was a weak offensive display from Milan.
Even with the return of Leao, the Rossoneri face an extremely difficult challenge in getting back in this tie. They have failed to score more than two goals in any of their Champions League knockout matches thus far and have scored less goals than any other of the semi-finalists throughout this year’s competition.
Of course, anything can happen and Milan have already displayed the ability to produce goals this season like in their 4-0 victory away to Napoli in Serie A. However, Inter’s defensive record in the competition has been strong and they have kept four clean sheets out of a possible five throughout the knockout phase this term.
UCL 22/23 Key Stats:
Goals For: Inter 18, Milan 15
Goals Against: Inter 10, Milan 10
Both Teams To Score %: Inter 18%, Milan 27%
Over 2.5 Goals %: Inter 27%, Milan 36%
Having won their last three consecutive matches against Milan, Inter are the favourites to go on and reach their first Champions League final since 2010. The Nerazzurri have also won their last two meetings against Milan when playing as the ‘home’ side, including a 1-0 victory back in February thanks to a goal from Lautaro Martinez.
Last week’s defeat for Milan was their first against Inter in the Champions League, however. They were separated back in 2005 after troubles in the crowd led to the second leg being abandoned as Milan were awarded the 3-0 win. The Rossoneri edged past Inter in the 2002/03 Champions League semi-finals on away goals.
A lecture from the Curva Sud following a 2-0 defeat away to Spezia doesn’t bode well for Milan as they head into such a monumental fixture. Pioli’s side certainly need to buck their ideas up since they have now dropped points in three of their last four in Serie A and have slipped outside of the top four, currently sitting four points behind Lazio.
It still remains to be seen just how much Milan will need to recover in light of the fact that Juventus could still face yet another points deduction, despite earlier on this season being handed back their 15 points. As things stand, however, Milan know they need to win every game.
Saturday evening’s 4-2 win at home to Sassuolo signalled Inter’s fifth consecutive victory in Serie A and Inzaghi is edging closer to securing Champions League football once again next season. It has been a dramatic improvement for the Nerazzurri of late who went on a run of just one win in seven in the league prior to their current streak.
Prediction & Suggested Bets
Inter 1-1 Milan @ 11/2 Inzaghi will likely sit back and try to protect his lead, not allowing space for the likes of Leao and Theo Hernandez to counter using their speed. The Nerazzurri are in too good form at the moment, the converse for Milan, and so we can see Inter easing out the tie.
Matteo Darmian To Commit 2+ Fouls @ 15/8 Milan had the better of possession in the first leg and will be fast out of the blocks in the second knowing that they need to overturn the deficit. With Inter the more likely out of possession, and the fact that Leao should return, that will create a big threat down the left flank. Darmian committed two fouls in the first leg and he will be up against a tricky Hernandez and Leao here on the right-hand side of the defence.
Malick Thiaw To Be Carded @ 7/5 Twenty-one-year-old Thiaw is expected to come in for the more experienced Simon Kjaer here and looks good value to be carded, averaging a card every three games in Europe this season and one every 3.4 games in Serie A. His inexperience could lead to a booking as Inter look to catch the Rossoneri on the break.
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It’s an all-Italian affair in the second Champio...