AC Milan and Inter Milan will face off in the highly anticipated first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.

Italian giants AC Milan will welcome arch-rivals Inter Milan to San Siro on Wednesday night in what is a highly anticipated UEFA Champions League semi-final match-up.

The Serie A giants have a long and storied history in the competition and have won the trophy a combined ten times. The most recent of them came in 2010 when Jose Mourinho led the Nerazzurri to continental glory.

Milan, for their part, have won the competition seven times. But their last trophy came all the way back in 2007 when they defeated Liverpool in Athens. The current Rossoneri side is a pale shadow of the superteam from the early 2000s but will be keen to drive their position home this season.

Both teams are also embroiled in the fight to finish in the top four in Serie A this season. With their participation in next season’s competition far from certain, it adds further spice to the semi-final tie.

For the first time since 2017, Serie A will have a representative in European football’s biggest game this season. But with defending champions Real Madrid or Premier League holders Manchester City awaiting in Istanbul, the path is as difficult as it gets.

With no away goals to decide ties this year, Milan and Inter both can go all out in their own stadium to put on a show for the ages. It is unlikely to be a friendly affair with no love lost between the two sides. Neither side was expected to make it this far in this year’s competition and will aim to make the most of their fortunes.

This will be the first meeting between both teams in the Champions League since their 2004/05 quarter-final draw. The Rossoneri won the tie handily 5-0 on aggregate en route to the final which was played curiously at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul – the venue for this year’s showpiece event. Stefano Pioli will hope that his side can repeat history and exorcise the ghosts of the 2005 final in Turkey.

Both teams have already faced each other thrice this season, with Inter holding the edge. However, this match is a whole different ball game, with the stakes higher than ever before. Milan will be eager to avenge their loss to Inter in the Supercoppa Italiana earlier this year, while Inter will be determined to prove their recent dominance over their rivals. In many ways, this is the biggest Derby della Madonnina in recent memory.

Neither side is expected to adopt a safety-first approach in the first leg and will be expected to have a go at each other from the kick-off whistle. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

The Rossoneri will be aiming to return to the venue of their 2005 collapse and add an eighth European crown to their tally. The loss to Liverpool that night still rankles the Milan faithful and the win over the Reds in the 2007 final was but a consolation.

Stefano Pioli’s men have now been offered a surprising chance to return to the Ataturk Stadium and exorcize the past demons. Having to dump out Inter to potentially go all the way will only make it all the more memorable for the Milan fans.

Pioli’s men surrendered their Serie A crown without a fight but now have an opportunity to redeem their season in the best way possible. Milan have struggled to break down opposition sides in recent weeks. But the win over second-placed Lazio last weekend will act as a confidence booster.

Their biggest concern going into the game will be Rafael Leao, who suffered a muscular injury against Lazio. The reigning Serie A MVP is the Rossoneri’s difference maker going forward. And his potential absence could swing the tie in Inter’s favour.

Pioli will hope that Leao can at least make the bench, with Ante Rebic or Alexis Saelemaekers on standby. Meanwhile, Tommaso Pobega is ruled out with an injury, while veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was not registered for the competition. Milan have an otherwise fully-fit squad to choose from.

The Rossoneri have largely co-opted the 4-2-3-1 formation under Pioli and appear likely to play to their strengths. Mike Maignan will serve as the last line of defence with Fikayo Tomori and Simon Kjaer partnering with each other at centre-back.

Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez appear set to start as the full-backs and will hope to prevent Inter’s wing-backs from getting behind them. Both sides make use of their wing-backs for offensive roles, and it is a key area that could decide the outcome of the match.

Rade Krunic and Sandro Tonali should patrol the midfield as the double pivot, allowing the trio of Junior Messias, Ismael Bennacer, and Alexis Saelemaekers to push further upfield. Leao is likely to have to settle for a spot on the bench and could be brought on if needed.

Divock Origi’s European pedigree for Liverpool is well known. But Oliver Giroud should get the nod over him in the attack. The veteran won the trophy with Chelsea in 2021 and will hope to get another shot at it this season.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Kjaer, Hernandez; Krunic, Tonali; Messias, Bennacer, Saelemaekers; Giroud

AC Milan vs Inter Milan UEFA Champions League Match Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats.

Inter Milan

Simone Inzaghi’s brother Fillipo Inzaghi was the hero for AC Milan the last time they won the competition in 2007, scoring twice in the final. Simone will be keen to write his own name into European folklore by guiding Inter to continental glory.

The Nerazzurri arrive having beaten AS Roma at the weekend, in a massive win that boosts their top four chances in Serie A. Inzaghi rested several key players, all of who are likely to be restored for the night.

Inter have stuck to a 3-5-2 formation under Inzaghi and are unlikely to shift tactics now. Robin Gosens is out injured, and he will be joined on the sidelines by PSG-bound Milan Skriniar. It is not all bad news as Danilo D’Ambrosio is expected to shake off a muscular issue.

Andre Onana should get the nod in goal behind the back three of Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi, and Alessandro Bastoni. Denzel Dumfries will start out wide on the right wing, with Federico Dimarco occupying the opposite flank. 

Marcelo Brozovic should hold the fort in central midfield with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Nicolo Barella freed up for offensive operations. Inter will also be boosted by the duo of Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku rediscovering their goalscoring touch.

The Nerazzurri front two proved to be a key cog in the side that won the Serie A title two years ago. They appear to be hitting the same wavelength once again and it could not have come at a better time for Inzaghi.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Onana; Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Martinez, Lukaku

AC Milan vs Inter Milan UEFA Champions League Match Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats.

Key Stats

  • AC Milan and Inter Milan have faced off against each other five times in Europe, with the former holding the edge. The Rossoneri are unbeaten in their last four games in Europe against Inter. The last time both sides met in the semi-final stage of the competition was in 2003, with AC Milan winning on away goals. They went on to defeat Juventus in the final at Old Trafford.
  • Inter Milan and AC Milan have already faced off thrice this season with the Nerazzurri having won twice. The last time they got the better of their city rivals thrice in the same campaign was all the way back in 1994/95.
  • Failing to score on the night will see AC Milan go three straight games without finding the back of the net against Inter Milan for the first time since 1980.
  • AC Milan have conceded just one goal in their last six Champions League semifinal home games.
  • AC Milan have not lost at home in the UEFA Champions League semifinal stage since 2006 against Barcelona.

Player to Watch

Federico Dimarco

The Italian star has risen to the occasion several times for Inter Milan this season and will have a key role once again on the night. Replacing Ivan Perisic as the wing-back is no mean feat. But Dimarco has to his credit, done an admirable job.

Excellent getting forward and solid in defence, the Inter ace is a force to be reckoned with down the left flank. Calabria is likely to have his hands full on the night with Dimarco pushing up when in possession. His defensive nous is also likely to shackle Junior Messias, a player who is a difference maker when given room.

One cannot rule out Dimarco scoring another key goal, something he has made a habit of in recent times. He is also expected to link up well with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and thread through passes for Romelu Lukaku to run into. Add to it his prowess on set-pieces and it is clear that Milan cannot afford to ignore the Inter left-back.


AC Milan 1-2 Inter Milan

Both teams have cause for optimism going into the tie. But with Rafael Leao potentially absent or at best not fully fit, it should take the sting out of Milan’s frontline. Simone Inzaghi, meanwhile, managed to rest some of his key players at the weekend and has seen his side return to form in recent weeks. 

The extra rest combined with momentum should give Inter a slight advantage going into the game. As long as they score first, they will be expected to take a narrow lead into the second leg. The Hard Tackle predicts a hard-fought game that sees neither side yield an inch, with Inter coming out on top by a solitary goal.

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