Milan will again become a stronghold of European football on Wednesday, as it has not happened to it for two decades, with a inevitably boiling “euroderby” between AC Milan and Inter Milan to compete for a place in the Champions League final. .
The Lombard capital is already guaranteed to be in the final, on June 10 in Istanbul, against Manchester City or Real Madrid. It remains to designate the lucky winner, between the club rossonero already winner seven times of the prestigious competition (last in 2007) and its great rival nerazzurro crowned three times (ultimate in 2010).
If the other half between the City of Pep Guardiola and the Real of Carlo Ancelotti opposes what is probably best in terms of play in Europe, the Italian “derbissimo” promises to be a summit of passions and history between the two opposing neighbors for the 236th time in all competitions, since the first time in 1909.
In the Champions League, the two rivals of the Madonnina, the name of the virgin overlooking the Milanese Duomo, giving its name to the derby, have already faced each other four times. But that goes back twenty years, to a time when Serie A still attracted the biggest stars of football, some of whom are expected in the stands like Andrei Shevchenko or Cafu.
In 2003, it was already in the semi-finals: Milan had qualified thanks to the goal scored on the “outside” (0-0, 1-1), not without irony given that the two clubs share the same stadium San Siro Giuseppe-Meazza.
Inter at the rendezvous
Two years later, it was during a quarter-final more electric than ever. The return match did not go to an end due to the throwing of smoke bombs from the internal tifosi, one of whom had hit the rossonero goalkeeper Dida. Milan, already winner in the first leg (2-0), had won the match on the green carpet on the return (3-0).
Ancelotti was then the coach of AC Milan during these four matches and had thus confirmed the supremacy in the European Cup of the Rossoneri, the most successful in C1 behind the inaccessible Real Madrid (14 victories).
But will the weight of history be enough for Olivier Giroud and others to face the confidence of Inter Milan?
Simone Inzaghi’s team has indeed won the two derbies disputed in 2023, in particular giving a lesson to Milan in the Italian Supercup (3-0) in January before winning the league (1-0).
Despite a checkered season, the Nerazzurri have always been there in C1, in particular by extricating themselves from a strong group, with Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona, both now out of the running in Europe.
The uncertainty Leao
They arrive especially towards the end of the season in great shape, with a series of five consecutive victories, in all competitions, having notably beaten Juventus, Lazio and Roma while scoring fifteen goals. Romelu Lukaku has chased his spleen with five goals since the beginning of April, finding his agreement with the Argentinian Lautaro Martinez.
AC Milan, for its part, may have to do without its offensive arrow Rafael Leao, quickly replaced on Saturday against Lazio (2-0) due to an alert in the adductor of the right thigh.
What to worry about Stefano Pioli: the Rossoneri have won only one of the ten games this season where the Portuguese has not started, whether he has entered the game or has not played at all. Leao had notably been decisive in the quarter-finals of C1 against Naples, decisive passer in the first leg (1-0) as in the return thanks to a fantastic ride from his camp (1-1).
“We can also have a great match without a decisive player like him,” warned Stefano Pioli.
Even if he knows how much Milan will need him for the end of the season, both to dream of the Champions League but also to try to return to Serie A in the top four qualifying for the next C1 – the champions in title are currently 5th.