- It’s an all-Italian affair in the second Champions League semi-final of the week as Milan play the role of hosts at the San Siro up against city rivals Inter.
- The Derby della Madonnina will be remembered for the abandonment of the second leg semi-final back in 2005 as we prepare for yet another luscious battle.
- Rafael Leao is a key injury doubt for the Rossoneri which will hinder them significantly, as Milan Skriniar remains out for the Nerazzurri.
The Milan faithful are awaiting the tantalising fate of their star man’s fitness in Leao after he was forced off last weekend against Lazio. He is in doubt for the first leg here, while Alexis Saelemaekers is set to replace him if needed. However, the rest of their squad should be available for selection, barring the list of players who are ineligible.
Skriniar remains the predominant injury concern for Inter due to an ongoing back issue. He won’t be fit for this one. Robin Gosens is a doubt after dislocating his shoulder as is defender Danilo D’Ambrosio (muscle injury). The latter has returned to training.
Champions League Form
Having got past the new Scudetto winners in Napoli in the quarter-finals, the Rossoneri aim to defeat yet another Italian rival to reach the final for the first time since 2007 when they went on to win the competition.
A 1-0 win in the first leg against the Partenopei gave Milan the slender advantage before travelling south to Naples. Olivier Giroud’s opener in the return leg made life even more difficult for Luciano Spalletti’s side but Napoli did have chances to get back into the match with Kvicha Kvaratskhelia missing a penalty kick late on. A Victor Osimhen header would level the scores on the night but Milan edged into a delectable semi-final against their rivals.
Despite the pressure on boss Simone Inzaghi building due to poor domestic form, he managed to pull it out of the bag when his Inter side travelled to Lisbon, picking up a 2-0 triumph at the Estadio da Luz. The Nerazzurri then went 3-1 up in the second leg but Benfica never gave up, making it 3-3 as Inter ran out 5-3 aggregate winners.
Although they conceded three at home to the Eagles, Inter have been strong defensively overall in Europe so far this season. They had managed to keep three consecutive clean sheets in their three matches prior, edging past Porto in the quarter-finals.
UCL 22/23 Key Stats:
Goals For: Milan 15, Inter 16
Goals Against: Milan 8, Inter 10
Both Teams To Score %: Milan 30%, Inter 20%
Over 2.5 Goals %: Milan 40%, Inter 30%
Inter have been victorious in two of their three meetings with Milan so far this season, recording a 3-0 win in the Super Cup final in January before edging a narrow 1-0 win in Serie A back in February. However, Stefano Pioli’s side did register a 3-2 win in their ‘home’ fixture, thanks largely to a brace by Leao. Of course, clashes between the two sides occur every season but with them now going head-to-head in the Champions League for the first time since 2005, the encounter is even more eagerly anticipated.
European history between the two sides very much favours Milan since they have never suffered a defeat against Inter in the Champions League. The Rossoneri ran out 5-0 aggregate winners in the quarter-finals of the 2004/05 campaign, a game that also produced one of the most iconic images in football of Marco Materazzi and Rui Costa who stood next to each other behind a mist of red smoke at the San Siro.
Serie A is gearing up for a nail-biting end to its top-four race this season with six teams still in the running for Champions League football next term. Milan are currently on the periphery and sit two points behind Inter with just four games to go.
The Rossoneri are on a seven-match unbeaten run in the league but have only picked up 13 points from a possible 21. Draws have been too common but Pioli has been resting a lot of his key players to keep them fresh for their European ties. Nevertheless, they enter this one on good form, having beaten Lazio 2-0 at the San Siro last time out.
Things have finally started to click for Inter in the league and they now look on course to finish off the season in style. Having won all five of their last matches in all competitions, scoring a mammoth 15 goals in that time, Milan will need to be defensively sound if they are to get past them.
Lautaro Martinez has rediscovered his earlier form, scoring five in his last five appearances, as well as having formed a strong partnership with Romelu Lukaku who finally appears to be nearing his calibre of old. They will be key for Inter.
Prediction & Suggested Bets
Milan 1-2 Inter @ 17/2 The Nerazzurri have been on fire of late and they will have all the confidence and momentum to gain the edge in this one. It will be hard for Milan to stop such an affluent Inter attack of late and so we could see plenty of goals here. The fitness of Leao is also huge and even if he is able to play, he won’t be at 100%
Lautaro Martinez To Score Or Assist @ 5/4 Martinez has been unstoppable recently and when he’s got his tail up, he can produce elite performances at a world class level. That’s certainly what he’s been doing and he has either scored or assisted a total of four times in his last two outings alone.
Sandro Tonali To Commit 2+ Fouls @ 1/1 Even money for Tonali to commit two fouls seems like good value in what will likely be a feisty battle in the middle of the park. He made two fouls in his last Champions League appearance away to Napoli and we could see a similar outcome here as he goes up against the likes of Hakan Calhanoglu, Nicolo Barella and Marcelo Brozovic.
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This Champions League encounter sees two cosmic...