Milan and Inter have brought Italy’s football back into focus in the Champions League after rather lean years. The derby in the semifinals should give Calcio a strong boost.
After a long time, the football world is looking to Milan again – and there you can bask in the unexpected splendor of the premier class.
The city duel between AC and Inter Milan in the Champions League semifinals should give the two reinvigorated clubs and the whole Calcio a strong boost. “It’s not a derby, it’s the derby,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi before meeting archrivals on Wednesday (9 p.m. / DAZN).
Like exactly 20 years ago, the fight for a place in the final is once again an inner-city affair. Unlike then, Inter wants to celebrate this time – the Nerazzurri are favourites.
Leao threatens failure
This is primarily because Milan may have to play without their most dangerous player. Striker Rafael Leao is in danger of being sidelined with an adductor injury. Coach Stefano Pioli only wants to decide on the day of the game after a final fitness test whether to bring his star into the squad. “Rafa and his doctor will tell me in the morning how it looks. If he’s fine, then he will be nominated. If not, then not.” The offensive player was recently injured in the league and was unable to train with the team until Tuesday.
With his attacking runs on the left side, the Portuguese is currently one of the spectacle guarantors in European football. In the quarterfinals against SSC Napoli (1-0, 1-1) he prepared both Milan goals. Without the 23-year-old, AC would only be worth half, said former top striker Christian Vieri in the “Gazzetta dello Sport”.
Because Inter seems to have found their top form just at the most important phase of the season, Vieri sees the Inzaghi squad in front. “Inter have the best squad, especially in terms of attack. Actually, they shouldn’t lose to anyone,” said the football pensioner and cult commentator about the offensive around Romelu Lukaku, Edin Dzeko, and Argentine world champion Lautaro Martinez.
Also Gosens questionable
The use of Inter’s German national player Robin Gosens is questionable. “We don’t know yet if he will be part of the squad,” said Inzaghi. The 28-year-old Gosens dislocated his shoulder at the end of April and has been out ever since. On the other hand, he considers himself fit. “Back on track. Just in time for Wednesday’s big match,” he wrote on Instagram.
Before the season, hardly anyone would have thought it possible that Milan and Inter would face each other in the semi-finals of the Champions League and that other top-class players such as Bayern, Liverpool, Barcelona or Paris could only watch. Inter were last in a semi-final in 2010 and Milan in 2007 – both times the northern Italians won the title.
With plenty of luck in the draw for the knockout phase and tried and tested defensive and minimalism virtues – Milan, for example, conceded only one goal in four play-off games from three goals they scored themselves – the Milanese were successful this time. And now it comes to the derby in the largest possible shop window. Milan already advertised this on Monday evening by completely illuminating the famous Burj Khalifa hotel in Dubai in red and black.
Zoff emphasizes importance
“The game is important for Italian football,” said goalkeeping legend Dino Zoff of the German Press Agency. The 81-year-old could not say whether the floodlit event in the venerable Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in San Siro will again see two top-flight clubs. “But the numbers suggest that.”
The 1982 world champion reminded that in addition to Milan and Inter, Juventus Turin and Leverkusen opponents AS Roma in the Europa League and AC Florence in the Conference League are each in the semi-finals. There have never been five Serie A teams in the semi-finals of European club competitions at the same time.
“It shows that Italian football, about which we often have doubts even in this country, is highly regarded internationally,” said Zoff. In Italy, sport is repeatedly overshadowed by background noise, currently for example from the legal dispute between record champions Juve about possible accounting fraud and from racism incidents in the stadiums. But Zoff says: “You don’t think about these things abroad, you go out there and play.”
Pk Milan Pk Inter UEFA match information
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