Tuesday’s lone Coppa Italia fixture sees Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan come up against their city rivals AC Milan for the second time this season in what is always a highly contentious fixture no matter what competition the two face off in. The first this season was a 2-1 Serie A victory for Stefano Pioli’s Milan side, thanks to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace. However, much has changed for the Nerazzurri since October, and they will be looking to right the ship in a way that sets a tone for the upcoming second half of the Serie A season, which sees a potentially title defining derby less than a month on from Tuesday.
Milan come into the match on the back of a slightly unexpected 3-0 loss at home to Atalanta in Serie A. Their loss and Inter’s draw with Udinese allowed Inter to gain another point in the race for the Scudetto, whittling the Rossoneri’s lead down to just two points. In the Coppa, Milan advanced to the quarterfinals by virtue of a penalty shootout win over Torino in the round of 16. During the match, Milan took a significant blow as goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was on the bench, was sent off for a comment made towards referee Paolo Valeri. This likely leaves Milan with second choice keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu in goal, who also played in their previous Coppa match. It is also rumored that former Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic will get his first start for Pioli’s side, making for an interesting lineup.
The Rossoneri have fond memories of the last time this fixture was played in the Coppa Italia, as they grabbed a narrow victory over Inter in extra time though academy product Patrick Cutrone just two days after Christmas in 2017. Inter will be looking to redeem both the recent league defeat and the most recent Coppa derby defeat.
Inter booked their spot in the quarterfinals with a late win over Fiorentina two weeks ago, thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s last goal in any competition to date. In the league, Conte’s men are coming off of a rather turgid 0-0 draw away against Udinese on Saturday, a week after dispatching of Juventus. With a full squad, available, minus the injured Danilo D’Ambrosio, rotation is possible across the pitch. Perhaps another Christian Eriksen regista trial is on the cards, though it does seem more likely that someone like Stefano Sensi will be given the start.
Up front, Inter really need their strikers to get going, as Lukaku has not scored since 13 January and Lautaro Martinez has not scored since his hat trick against Crotone on 3 January. If Inter are to be successful in both the league and cup, they will need these two to start finding the mark again consistently as soon as possible.
4-2 (H) - 9/2/2020
1-2 (H) - 17/10/2020
Predicted Starting XIs
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Sensi, Darmian; Sanchez, Lautaro.
MILAN (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo; Kessie, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Diaz, Leao; Mandzukic.
Prediction: Inter 3-1 Milan
Contrary to October’s match, Inter will have their first choice center backs available. This will be huge for the home side, as a patchwork back three including Aleksandar Kolarov played a big part in Milan’s two goals. Milan will be missing Donnarumma and looked hesitant to jump into a high gear in the Coppa against Torino. Perhaps their sights will be set on Serie A and next month’s Europa League fixtures. Inter should come out hungry and take home a big victory for morale in both domestic competitions going forward.