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AC Milan vs Inter Milan: Match Preview

Derby time on the biggest stage of all


The Derby della Madonnina doesn’t need an excuse to be one heck of a big game. Even in the midst of the Banter Era, this fixture meant everything to the cousins. But now, the derby gets a chance to show off under the Champions League lights, and in a semi-final no less. Inter and Milan, calcio’s finest, playing for a spot in the UCL final.

AS Roma v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

I would say to enjoy it, but let’s not pretend that the nerves aren’t already present and have been since Inter edged Benfica 5-3 on aggregate back on April 19th and booked a collision course with Milan. Since that wild 3-3 draw, Inter has started to regain its form and turned a five-game winless run in Serie A into a five-game winning streak. Simone Inzaghi’s men have clinched a Coppa Italia final berth and moved back into the top four in that timeframe, spurned on by an in-form Romelu Lukaku (better late than never), who has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 5.

The Belgian’s hot streak has coincided with the return of Lautaro to the scoresheet and to stellar effect; he has 5 goals and 2 assists since Inter’s winning stretch began. A number of those were classic LuLa goals, despite Inzaghi’s best efforts to keep Inter’s best strikers off the pitch in favor of one of Edin Dzeko or Joaquin Correa. The former, who rested against Roma over the weekend, is likely to start again with El Toro against Milan but it’s only a matter of time before Lukaku is brought in off the bench. Other than that rather peculiar coaching decision, Inter should have the majority of its roster available, although Robin Gosens and Milan Skriniar remain absent.

Theo Hernandez (R) of AC Milan celebrates with Olivier... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Milan, meanwhile, has been rather up-and-down of late. The Rossoneri dumped Napoli out in the previous round 2-1 but hasn’t strung together back-to-back wins in Serie A since February. Milan is undefeated in 7 but four of those have been draws, sending Stefano Pioli’s side slipping down to 5th in the table. Rafael Leao remains the star man with 13 goals and 11 assists, although he exited Milan’s 2-0 win against Lazio on Saturday with a slight groin injury and might not make the starting XI Wednesday. Without the Portuguese winger, Milan loses almost all of its dynamism in the final third and is left with Olivier Giroud (13g, 7a), whose talent is undeniable but his legs are catching up to him, and the streaky Brahim Diaz (6g, 5a).

As for defense, Mike Maignan, the best keeper in Italy, Theo Hernandez, and Sandro Tonali form quite the formidable spine for the Rossoneri and are a big part of its recent defensive record - 5 shutouts in its last 9 with just 4 goals conceded. On the flip side, Milan’s attack has struggled to get out of third gear and has scored multiple goals in only 3 of its last 13 games. The high-stakes nature of this week’s encounter should only increase the cautiousness and risk-averse nature of Milan, so we seem to be in for a low-scoring affair.

Previous Results

Inter has an 81W-67D-71L lead in the all-time series, including back-to-b-back wins earlier this season. In the 4 previous UCL derbies, however, Milan is undefeated with 2 wins and 2 draws.

Predicted Starting XIs

Milan’s Predicted XI (4-2-3-1)
Inter’s Predicted XI (3-5-2)

Prediction: AC Milan 1-1 Inter Milan

Leg one will end all square after Olivier Giroud’s opener is canceled out by a Romelu Lukaku equalizer off the bench.

Forza Inter!