Inter Milan – AC Milan: The mounting debt
Inter is rated higher than Milan in all aspects, from form and morale to the advantage of winning 2-0 in the first leg before the Champions League semifinals.
In the San Siro stadium a week ago, playing as the away team, Inter settled the first leg of the semifinals within the first 11 minutes, thanks to goals from Edin Dzeko and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Scoring two goals in 10 minutes and 16 seconds, Inter became the third fastest team to take a two-goal lead in the Champions League semifinals, only behind Juventus against Manchester United in 1999 and Manchester United against Arsenal in 2009, both achieved in 10 minutes and 15 seconds.
Furthermore, with Dzeko and Mkhitaryan’s goals, Inter also became the first team to have two players over 34 years old score in a knockout match of the Champions League. Among them, at 37 years and 54 days old, Dzeko is currently the second oldest player to score in a knockout match of the Champions League, only behind Ryan Giggs who scored in the Manchester United semifinal against Schalke on April 26, 2011, at the age of 37 years and 148 days.
Inter’s victory in the first leg also marked the third consecutive win against Milan in three different competitions this season, following a 3-0 victory in the Italian Super Cup final and a 1-0 win in Serie A. If they win again today, Inter will achieve the feat of defeating their city rivals four times in a single season for the second time. They previously accomplished this in the 1973-1974 season with two wins in Serie A and two wins in the Italian Cup.
Inter is confident in their pursuit of this achievement, as they are currently in the best form in Serie A, surpassing the reigning champions Napoli. Under the guidance of Simone Inzaghi, they have won their last seven matches in all competitions, including five in Serie A to re-enter the top four race.
They also defeated Juventus 1-0 in the second leg of the Italian Cup semifinals and won against Milan in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals. Prior to this winning streak, Inter had a poor run with one win, four draws, and four losses in nine matches across all competitions.
On the other hand, Milan has won two, drawn four, and lost two in their last eight matches across all competitions, since their 1-0 victory against Napoli in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Last weekend, under the guidance of coach Stefano Pioli, they suffered a 0-2 defeat against Spezia, a team fighting to avoid relegation, putting their Champions League qualification at risk. They currently sit in fifth place in Serie A with 61 points, four points behind fourth-placed Lazio, with three rounds remaining in the season.
Milan’s hopes of a comeback largely depend on the availability of Rafael Leao – the forward who has been absent in the last two matches due to a muscle injury. However, apart from the Portuguese star, Milan will definitely be without Rade Krunic, and Ismael Bennacer, and there are doubts about the availability of Junior Messias and Alexis Saelemaekers.
On the other hand, Inter has showcased the quality and depth of their squad. Last week, coach Simone Inzaghi fielded the striking duo of Romelu Lukaku and Joaquin Correa in the 2-0 victory against Roma in Serie A, and in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals, he used forwards Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko.
Over the weekend, Inzaghi continued to utilize Lukaku and Correa as starters in the 4-2 win against Sassuolo in the 35th round of Serie A. It is likely that the Martinez-Dzeko duo will be given another chance at San Siro today.
Opta’s supercomputer rates Inter higher with a 48.5% chance of winning today, compared to Milan’s 24.4%. However, when it comes to the likelihood of Pioli’s team winning and advancing, it is only 5.5%.
Even if they produce a miracle at San Siro today, Milan is only given a 1.4% chance by Opta to win the UEFA Champions League for the eighth time at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on June 10, regardless of whether their opponents are Manchester City or Real Madrid.
On the other hand, if Inter can maintain their advantage, they will reach the Champions League final for the first time since the historic 2009-2010 season under Jose Mourinho. Back then, Inter defeated Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, clinching both the Serie A and Italian Cup titles, becoming the first Italian club to achieve a treble in a single season.
Inzaghi’s Inter may not be able to replicate the feat of their counterpart Mourinho, but they still have a chance to win the treble this season. They have already won the Italian Super Cup, hold the advantage in the Champions League final, and have the upcoming Italian Cup final against Fiorentina on May 24 in Rome.
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