It has been a rough few weeks for Inter and Milan. Both sides of Milan have been hemorrhaging points in Serie A and have currently handed first place over to Napoli. Those drops in form were on full display in Tuesday’s Coppa Italia semifinal first leg between the two clubs. The end result, though unremarkable and boring to watch, will likely satisfy both sides as they work to figure out their form in Serie A before the return leg in April.
Milan put out a strong team, but Inter matched with a first-choice squad as well. Stefano Pioli started Rade Krunic in an attacking midfield role, similar to how he started Franck Kessie in the last derby, to neutralize Marcelo Brozovic while Rossoneri derby hero Olivier Giroud started up top.
Inter debuted Robin Gosens on the bench and welcomed back Joaquin Correa. With this, Inter have now returned all of their key pieces headed into a very important period. Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez started up top, searching for goals to break this dry spell.
MILAN (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Florenzi, Tomori, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, Krunic, Leao; Giroud.
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Dzeko, Lautaro.
Milan carried over some of their momentum from their derby win last month, but it was still clear that they were not in top form. Just before the 10 minute mark, disaster almost struck when Samir Handanovic under-hit a pass to Brozovic, who was well marked. The ball fell Alexis Saelemaekers, who got a free shot from the edge of the box that Handanovic did well to get down to save. A good sign for the aging Inter number one.
Just after their first chance, Milan’s Theo Hernandez slalomed through the Inter midfield and played a quick one-two with fellow Frenchman Giroud, but could not put his shot on target after a long run.
After the quickfire Milan chances, Inter got their first shot on goal at the 20 minute mark, a weak effort from Alessandro Bastoni on the edge of the box. Mike Maignan handled the shot easily. Two minutes later, Ivan Perisic played a dangerous cross into the box that Alessio Romagnoli just was able to cut out before it fell to Edin Dzeko. The Milan captain left the match shortly after the intervention with a groin issue, replaced by Pierre Kalulu.
The final chance of the half came from Rade Krunic, who received a cutback in the center of Inter’s box, but could not finish. Milan looked more likely to score, but could not finish.
Neither team wanted to lose this match, but neither team seemed to want to win either. This was clear as the second half began and moved along in choppy fashion. Perhaps the brightest chance of the half happened very early on, as Rafael Leao forced a good save out of Samir Handanovic from distance. The rebound could have fallen anywhere, but Perisic was able to clear.
Alessandro Florenzi had a shot from distance of his own just after the hour mark, but Handanovic saw it the entire way and made the save as he moved closer to earning a second consecutive clean sheet.
Shortly after, Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal took the places of Lautaro and Nicolo Barella after quiet matches from both players. Joaquin Correa replaced Dzeko with just 10 minutes left in the match while Robin Gosens made his first appearance for Inter with his inclusion on 88 minutes. The late substitutes proved to be more of a talking point than the match itself as 90 minutes came and passed for the final whistle. This tie will be decided with a winner takes all final derby of the season next month.
Handanovic - 6: Good on one side of the ball, not so good on the other. Made some risky passes that could have costed Inter but made some good saves that will hopefully build on his confidence and the confidence of the team.
Bastoni - 6.5 (MOTM): Got forward well and was one of Inter’s best offensive threats throughout. No issues in defense either. Glad to see that ankle knock has not slowed him down.
de Vrij - 5.5: Not his worst performance, but did lose his man multiple times. His low confidence persists.
Skriniar - 6: Did a lot of dirty work against Milan’s attackers. Committed a few fouls, but brought the grit to the Inter back three.
Perisic - 6: Always dangerous on the left. Almost assisted Dzeko but seemed to get lost in the commotion for stretches of the match. Having Gosens as the alternative will be very useful.
Calhanoglu - 5.5: Provided his signature dead balls, but also lost in the crowd. Got forward well and at least attempted to get between the lines in this side that is lacking imagination.
Brozovic - 5: Pressed out of this match effectively by Krunic. Some adjustment needs to be made to negate this issue because it is beginning to happen way too regularly.
Barella - 4.5: Missing for the entire match. Got outworked and was even walking at points. Not sure what is happening there but Inter need him to turn it around.
Dumfries - 5.5: Got into it again with Theo, but it seemed to affect both pretty equally. They canceled each other out for the match.
Dzeko - 5.5: Was the big man in the box on corners and crosses. Nearly got his head onto one. Missed another half chance after that. When he is the only striker trying to beat his man, there is an issue with your attack.
Lautaro - 5: Nothing really came his way and he did not seem to really do much to change that fact. Anonymous.
Vidal - 5.5: Did precious little when he came on, but so did the other 21 players on the pitch.
Alexis - 6: Back in his best role, coming on late as a gamebreaker. There was little for him to do in this one though, as both teams seemed more than happy to settle for the draw by the time he touched the pitch.
Correa/Darmian/Gosens - N/A
Inzaghi - 5: Sent out the same lineup without much changing in the way of ideas. Hopefully the additions of Gosens and Correa back into the squad will help him shake some things up. A draw in this match is acceptable, but a loss against Salernitana later this week would signal crisis mode.
Inter will be back at it again on Friday as they host Salernitana. Milan dropped points to the rejuvenated Davide Nicola side recently, but this should be a winnable match for Inter. It is also one that they need, as Milan face Napoli this weekend. Tense times indeed.