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Preview: AC Milan vs Inter Milan – prediction, team news, line-ups

San Siro forms the backdrop for a highly-anticipated first-leg showdown of the Champions League semi-final tie between AC Milan and Inter Milan on Wednesday (8.00 pm). 

Napoli officially wrestled the Scudetto out of the Rossoneri’s hands last week, leaving Stefano Pioli’s side with the most prestigious European title as the only possibility of avoiding a trophyless season. 

Milan restored some confidence by toppling fellow Serie A top-four rivals Lazio 2-0 at home on Saturday to stay within a two-point distance of fourth-placed Inter.

But they potentially paid a high price as standout forward Rafael Leao hobbled off the pitch with a thigh injury, which could sideline him for Wednesday’s Derby della Madonnina.

Like their arch-rivals, Simone Inzaghi’s team emerged victorious against another heavyweight side from the capital as Federico Dimarco and Romelu Lukaku inspired them to a 2-0 win at Roma later that day.

However, the Nerazzurri have yet to ensure Champions League qualification next term via Serie A, highlighting the significance of reaching the final for the first time since 2010.

Despite never coming close to troubling Napoli’s Scudetto quest this season, Inter could still win the double as they meet Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia final later in May. 

Match Preview

After reaching the Champions League knockouts for the first time since 2013/14, Milan have gone one better, as aggregate wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Napoli helped them set up a first semi-final appearance since a victorious 2006/07 season. 

But unless the Rossoneri can find a way to cope with Inter, this could prove the end of the road for the seven-time European champions after they’ve lost their last two competitive H2Hs without scoring. 

While that could be a source of anxiety in the home camp, Milan’s near-perfect six-game record across the last six Champions League semi-final legs they hosted at San Siro (W4, D1, L1) could settle their nerves.

It’s worth mentioning that besides a 1-0 loss to Barcelona in 2005/06, Milan kept a clean sheet in the other five matches during that stretch, a defensive resilience that’s provided a backbone for this season’s knockout success.

Before Victor Osimhen’s stoppage-time consolation goal in the second leg of their 2-1 aggregate triumph over Napoli in the quarter-finals, Pioli’s side went three straight knockout matches without conceding. 

Player to Watch: Olivier Giroud

With Leao’s availability up in the air, Giroud, who has tallied five Champions League goals this season, will likely have to carry the scoring burden on Wednesday. 

After a runner-up finish to Bayern Munich in Group C, Inter have got the better of Primeira Liga giants Porto and Benfica in the two previous Champions League knockout rounds. 

The Nerazzurri’s overwhelming 5-3 aggregate victory over the Eagles in the quarter-finals helped Inzaghi become the first Inter boss to reach the semi-finals since Jose Mourinho carried them to the title in 2009/10.

Defensive solidity has been Inzaghi’s side’s trademark in this season’s Champions League, as they’ve registered six shutouts in ten matches and could make it seven in a single campaign for the first time. 

However, they will have to overcome a significant psychological barrier to edge Milan in this tie after going winless in all four previous European encounters against them (D2, L2).

An eye-catching run of five consecutive wins in all competitions by an aggregate score of 16-1 comes in handy, especially considering each victory in this run yielded a multi-goal margin. 

Player to Watch: Lautaro Martinez

This one is really a no-brainer. Since making his Derby della Madonnina debut in March 2019, Martinez has netted as many as seven goals in his 12 competitive appearances against Milan.

Team News

Besides Leao, who’s still a doubt, Milan boss Pioli will be without veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who’s failed to make the Champions League list. 

As for Inter, Robin Gosens joined long-term absentee Milan Skriniar on the sidelines after picking up a shoulder injury against Lazio a fortnight ago.

AC Milan potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Mike Maignan; Davide Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Simon Kjaer, Theo Hernandez; Sandro Tonali, Rade Krunic; Brahim Diaz, Ismael Bennacer, Alexis Saelemaekers; Olivier Giroud. 

Inter Milan potential starting line-up:

(3-5-2): Andre Onana; Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi, Alessandro Bastoni; Denzel Dumfries, Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Federico Dimarco; Lautaro Martinez, Romelu Lukaku.

We Say: AC Milan 1-0 Inter Milan

With both teams deploying a cautious approach and so much at stake, the upcoming match could be fiercely contested, which may come down to just one goal to determine the winner after the 90 minutes of play.

Despite Inter’s rich vein of form, we believe Milan’s Champions League DNA could make the difference on Wednesday. 

How To Watch:

In the United Kingdom, both the AC Milan v Inter Milan game and the other Champions League semi-final featuring Manchester City and Real Madrid will be broadcast live on BT Sports – click here to see all Champions League streaming options.

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