Champions League: Milan dreams of a jump, hoping for Leao

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AC Milan will try to come back two goals behind Inter in the semi-final second leg of the Champions League on Tuesday, with the hope of finding Rafael Leao, absent in the first leg (2-0), but especially a soaring enthusiasm.

The tifosi rossoneri felt that it was time to be heard to boost the morale of a team at the gates of the Champions League final but also very far from being able to play the next C1 after their defeat bitter Saturday at La Spezia (2-0) in the league.

On Sunday, there were hundreds of them in front of Milanello, the club’s training center, with flags and banners.

The day before, as soon as the match lost in Liguria ended, all the players and their coach Stefano Pioli had gone to see the supporters, remaining for several minutes at the bottom of the stand listening to the “speech” of one of the Milanese ultras officials.

“We are going to play a match that can make history, we must believe in our chances of beating Inter”, launched Stefano Pioli after this meeting, aware that his team had to “do better” than in the “last two matches ”.

In four days, Milan has indeed seen the final in Istanbul slip away, after the deserved defeat in the first leg against Inter, but also its chances of finishing the Serie A season in the first four: the champions of Italy 2022 are 5th with four points behind Lazio (4th), three days from the end.

– Leao “is better” –

Suffice to say that Olivier Giroud and his family want to be forgiven before this fifth Milan derby of the season, after the two in the league (one victory each) and the Italian Super Cup (3-0 internal victory).

The Rossoneri have won just one of their last five matches in all competitions and have mostly appeared short of legs, caught at the end of the season by a limited choice to give the holders a breather, in particular due to rookies. disappointing (De Ketelaere, Origi, Adli).

Pioli also lost an important element in the first leg with Ismaël Bennacer (knee).

In this dark landscape, hope lies in one name: Rafael Leao. Absent in the first leg due to discomfort in the right thigh, the Portuguese, decisive in the quarters against Naples (1-0, 1-1), “is better”, assured the coach on Monday, confident of a tenure , before the last workout.

Opposite, the nerazzurri supporters did not need to sound the general mobilization as morale has been high for a month: Inter recovered in the league by returning to the podium, qualified for the final of the Italian Cup (May 24 against Fiorentina) and can dream of a fourth victory in the Champions League.

– Confident Lukaku –

Unlike their Milanese rivals, the Nerazzurro club has never looked so good, remaining on a series of seven straight wins by scoring three goals on average.

The awakening of Romelu Lukaku, finally rid of his physical problems which disturbed his start to the season, is obviously not for nothing: the Belgian, demoralized back from his failed World Cup, has regained confidence (seven goals since the beginning of April) , even if he should be a substitute like on the first leg on Tuesday.

The probable future defender of Paris SG Milan Skriniar, operated on his back at the end of April, remains the only absentee from an Inter who will try to manage their advantage in the first leg, as they did in 1/8 against Porto (1 -0, 0-0) then in quarters against Benfica (2-0, 3-3).

“We haven’t done anything yet, it would be a big mistake to believe it, it’s going to be a derby against a Milan that wants to do something extraordinary,” defender Francesco Acerbi warned.

With a supreme reward to seek: a first C1 final since 2010, the year in which it had won the last Champions League in Italian football, under the direction of José Mourinho.

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