Inter vs AC Milan: Preview and Prediction
With only 90 minutes being the differentiator between absolute heartbreak and a place in the 2022-23 UEFA Champions League final, two local rivals, Inter and AC Milan will lock horns at the San Siro on Tuesday.
Having won this competition on three occasions previously, Inter will have a glorious opportunity of adding a fourth UCL title to their cabinet. The Nerazzurri will come into this match with a two-goal advantage and will only need to see the day out.
On the other hand, AC Milan will have it all to do, after what was a shambolic display in the first leg. The Rossoneri have not played their best brand of football in recent weeks, but having won the Champions League seven times, they know all about making comebacks.
Although they have one foot in the final, many expected Inter to be knocked out in the group stages itself, as they were placed in the group of death alongside Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Viktoria Plzen. But with 10 points from six matches, Simone Inzaghi’s team made it to the next round.
In the round of 16, Inter defeated Porto 1-0 in the home leg, before restricting the Portuguese giants to a goalless draw at the Estadio do Dragao. In the quarter-final, Inter Milan defeated another Portuguese side, Benfica, before defeating AC Milan in the first leg of the semi-final.
As for their opponents, AC Milan was placed in a group alongside Chelsea, Red Bull Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb. They too got 10 points from six games, and in the round of 16, Stefano Pioli’s men were up against Tottenham Hotspur.
Having won that match 1-0 on aggregate, the Rossoneri faced the current Scudetto champions, Napoli in the quarter-final. Despite starting as underdogs, AC Milan won the San Siro leg 1-0, before drawing 1-1 at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Head to Head Record
While these two local rivals cross paths at least twice every year in Serie A, when it comes to the UEFA Champions League, they have locked horns five times. Inter holds the edge as they have won two of those five games, with AC Milan winning only one. The other two matches have ended in draws.
The last meeting was the first leg of this season’s semi-final, played at the San Siro last Wednesday. The Nerazzurri won that game comfortably by a 2-0 margin, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Edin Dzeko scoring the goals.
Inzaghi will not have many headaches while picking the starting XI for this second leg, as barring central defender Milan Skriniar, who has been ruled out of the season, everyone is fit and available for them. Given that they had the perfect game in the first leg, it is unlikely that Inzaghi will make any changes.
Romelu Lukaku will have to settle for the bench in all likeliness, with Lautaro Martinez and Dzeko retaining their places. The midfield trio of Mkhitaryan, Nicolo Barella, and Hakan Calhanoglu is also likely to be unchanged, with a three-man defensive wall of Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi, and Alessandro Bastoni.
Piolo, on the other hand, will be forced to make changes. The defensive lineup of Davide Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Simon Kjaer, and Theo Hernandez could be unchanged but defensive midfielder Rade Krunic is nursing an injury and could make way for Tommaso Pobega.
Ismael Bennacer, who was impressive in the quarter-final, is also out with an injury, but thankfully for the Rossoneri, star player Rafael Leao has returned to the grass after recovering from an injury. Though he is not at his 100% yet, the Portugal international could be handed a start.
Predicted Starting XIs
Inter (3-5-2): Andre Onana; Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi, Alessandro Bastoni; Denzel Dumfries, Nicolo Barella, Hakan Calhanoglu, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Federico Dimarco; Lautaro Martinez, Edin Dzeko.
AC Milan (4-2-3-1): Mike Maignan; Davide Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Simon Kjaer, Theo Hernandez; Sandro Tonali, Tommaso Pobega; Rafael Leao, Brahim Diaz, Alexis Saelemaekers; Olivier Giroud.
Although the possible comeback of Leao will be a major boost for AC Milan, Inter’s defensive record is impressive, having kept four clean sheets in their last five Champions League matches.