AC Milan will need to play out of their skins to overturn a two-goal deficit against Inter Milan in their UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg on Tuesday.
AC Milan will have it all to do when they face Inter Milan in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final clash at the Giuseppe Meazza on Tuesday night.
Stefano Pioli’s men have completely fallen off a cliff and were lucky to just get away with a two-goal loss in the first leg. Inter were comfortably the better side that night and should have put the game to bed given the number of goalscoring opportunities they had.
The Serie A giants have a 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 glory. Simone Inzaghi is today the better placed of either Milan bosses to repeat the trick.
Milan have lacked bite of late and have failed to show much inspiration in the attack following the injury to Rafael Leao. With their bid for a top-four finish in Serie A weltering, going all the way in the Champions League is their best bet to continue their participation in the competition.
Inter, however, appear to have hit form at just the right time. While the defence could show more fight, the attack is now finally clicking, offering Inzaghi several options to deploy as and when needed. Inter were able to rest several of their top players at the weekend and should be fresher on the night.
Reeling with injuries and a loss of form, Milan face an uphill task against overwhelming odds. Whoever scores first on the night will more or less set the tone for the pace of the game. Emotions will run high on and off the field on the night. No quarter is likely to be given in what should prove to be a proper fight between two arch-rivals.
With all to play for, Milan are expected to throw the kitchen sink at Inter and the game should start off at a fast pace. This should work in Inter’s favour as the Nerazzurri can then hit their rivals on the counter, putting the tie to bed. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
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Concentrazione 🎯#ForzaInter pic.twitter.com/vF9xUhClz8
— Inter (@Inter) May 14, 2023
The Nerazzurri have discovered their form at the right time and look formidable, especially while going forward. They should not lack confidence when they take to the field aiming to make it to a first UEFA Champions League final since 2010.
Inzaghi rotated his frontline at the weekend and is now expected to play his strongest side on the night. Unless there are any late injury concerns, Inter will be expected to field the same side that proved decisive in the first leg.
The hosts have stuck to a 3-5-2 formation under Inzaghi and are unlikely to shift tactics now. PSG-bound Milan Skriniar and is the Nerazzurri’s biggest absentee. Robin Gosens returned to action last week and will add further depth to Inzaghi’s roster.
Andre Onana should start in goal as the last line of defence, behind the back three of Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi, and Alessandro Bastoni. Denzel Dumfries will start out wide on the right wing, with the impressive Federico Dimarco occupying the opposite flank.
Hakan Calhanoglu should hold the fort in central midfield with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Nicolo Barella playing further upfield. Inter will also be boosted by Romelu Lukaku rediscovering their goal scoring touch and will offer the Nerazzurri more options in the attack.
Joaquin Correa picked up a knock at the weekend and should settle for a spot on the bench. Edin Dzeko is expected to feature in the starting XI alongside Lautaro Martinez. The duo were decisive last week in the first leg and one can expect more of the same on the night.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Onana; Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Martinez, Dzeko
AC Milan’s search for redemption at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul is likely to come to a rather premature end. In the history of the UEFA Champions League, only one side has thrown away a lead of two goals or more from the first leg to crash out.
Barcelona achieved that dubious distinction against Liverpool in 2019 and Milan will hope that a similar miracle can bail them out. Belgian striker Divock Origi scored twice for the Reds that night and will need to channel some of his clutch big-game performances to help Milan this time around.
Milan’s flat performance against Spezia last weekend also calls into question their ability to finish in the Serie A top question. The 90 minutes or more on Tuesday will determine if the seven time winners have a shot at participating in next season’s competition.
While the loss of form is a problem, Milan will also have to take to the field with several senior stars out injured. Rafael Leao is the club’s attacking spearhead and his absence leaves a vast void in Milan’s frontline. It is far from clear if he will be deemed fit for the game and even if that were to happen, Leao will lack the fitness needed to make an impact for the whole 90 minutes.
With you all the way ❤🖤
Amore incondizionato… Una passione che non si spegne mai ❤️🖤#SempreMilan #InterMilan pic.twitter.com/mW86YL0Ja0
— AC Milan (@acmilan) May 14, 2023
The same goes for Rade Krunic and Junior Messias, both of whom missed the game against Spezia with injuries. Alessandro Florenzi is another player nursing a knock while Ismael Bennacer is now ruled out for the rest of the season with a thigh injury.
Pioli is unlikely to deviate from the 4-2-3-1 system, with just personnel being shifted around. Mike Maignan should start in goal behind the back four of Davide Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Simon Kjaer and Theo Hernandez. Sandro Tonali and Tommaso Pobega should form the double pivot with Rade Krunic playing further up the field.
Brahim Diaz should start on the left flank with Alexis Saelemaekers on the opposite flank. Veteran striker Olivier Giroud should return to the eleven ahead of Divock Origi. The Frenchman will need to step up and be a difference maker for his side. Milan will do well to approach the game bravely and take the game to their opponents.
Scoring the first goal of the night should be the visitors’ primary concern. Doing so should give them a fighting chance of overturning the deficit.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Kjaer, Hernandez; Tonali, Pobega; Diaz, Krunic, Saelemaekers; Giroud
- A win on Tuesday will see Inter Milan beat AC Milan four times in the same season for the first time since the 1973/74 season. A shutout this midweek will see AC Milan go goalless against Inter Milan for four straight games for the first time in history.
- Overturning the deficit will make AC Milan the only other side apart from Liverpool to overturn a deficit of two or more goals in the UEFA Champions League semi-final stage.
- Either Stefano Pioli or Simone Inzaghi will become just the fifth Italian national to lead a Serie A side to the Champions League final.
- AC Milan have not won away in the knockout rounds of the Champions League since April 2007. It is now a winless run of 15 games of which there were eight draws.
- Inter Milan star Federico Dimarco has five assists from open play this season, more than any other player in the competition this campaign.
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The Argentine international is enjoying a purple patch of form and is expected to be restored to the starting XI on the night. With Milan pushing further up field, Inter can catch their opponents off guard and get in behind on the counter.
Fikayo Tomori is lacking in confidence, and the in-demand Martinez can gain much by applying pressure on the Englishman. The 25-year-old is a nimble attacker and has built up a solid partnership with Edin Dzeko. Milan have little option but to throw all bodies forward and the likes of Martinez should make merry from the space made available.
Inter Milan 3-1 Inter Milan (Inter Milan to win 5-1 on aggregate)
AC Milan have little option but to attack Inter Milan from the get go. Stefano Pioli’s men were confronted by ultras at the weekend and know being cowardly will only play into their rivals’ hands. Amid injuries to key players, Pioli and co. could struggle paving the way for Inter to hit them on the counter.
Simone Inzaghi’s men are oozing with confidence and their strikers are all in top form. A comfortable win appears to be the order of the day with Inter aiming to make history at the Ataturk Stadium. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 victory for the “home” side.
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