When: Wednesday, May 10
Where: San Siro, Milan
Kickoff: 19:00 GMT
It has been 13 years since a team from Italy’s financial and commercial hub has reached the Champions League final – but that is about to change.
Cross-city rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan, who, between them, have been crowned European champions 10 times, will face off on Wednesday in the first of two semifinals for European football’s top club competition.
The arch-rivals knocked out Napoli and Benfica in the quarter-finals, respectively, to set the highly anticipated derby at San Siro. Inter Milan currently sits in the fourth place of the Italian league, with 63 points, two ahead of fifth-placed AC Milan.
It will be the first time the Milan giants have played each other in the Champions League after 2005’s so-called “derby of shame”, a quarterfinal won by Milan whose second leg was abandoned after livid Inter fans launched a barrage of flares onto the San Siro pitch with their team way behind in the tie.
AC Milan team news
AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli said on Tuesday he would make a late call on Rafael Leao’s participation in Wednesday’s clash after the Portuguese winger suffered a muscle injury.
Leao has been one of Milan’s most influential players this season with 13 goals and 10 assists in all competitions, but he lasted only 12 minutes of Saturday’s 2-0 win over Lazio before being taken off.
Pioli told reporters Leao would either start the game or not play at all, adding that Belgian winger Alexis Saelemaekers was a potential replacement for Wednesday’s match at the San Siro.
AC Milan, who were dethroned as Serie A champions last week by Napoli, have had a rough run in the league with only three wins in their last 10 games.
However, Pioli chose to focus on their European run.
“We are talking about Champions League, we have not had ups and downs but an outstanding run,” he said in the pre-game news conference.
“We want to try to overcome this last step before winning a Champions League final, something that hasn’t happened to all of us. Motivation is at its highest.”
AC Milan’s last Champions League victory was in 2007, when they beat Liverpool 2-1 in the final held in Athens, Greece.
Inter Milan team news
For his part, Inter Milan manager Simone Inzaghi underlined the significance of the match, seen as the biggest between the two sides in nearly 20 years.
“It’s not a derby, it’s the derby,” Inzaghi told reporters.
“We know what it means for us, the club, our fans and myself. But I’m feeling calm because I’ve seen that the boys are very concentrated,” he said.
“We need to use our heads and show heart. I have no doubts concerning the heart. And we have to use the head in a clever way because this tie is decided over 180 minutes.”
Inter, which last won the Champions League in 2010, when they beat Bayern Munich 2-0 at the final in Spain’s Madrid, come into the showdown on a run of five straight wins and with a previously misfiring attack suddenly banging in goals.
Inzaghi’s side have scored 14 goals in that run, 10 of which have been netted by the forwards, with Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez both on a hot streak.
Full-back Robin Gosens is a doubt for Inter Milan after being sidelined lately with a dislocated shoulder. But the 28-year-old said on Instagram on Monday he was “back on track” and fit again “just in time for the big match on Wednesday.”
The two sides have met 235 times previously in all competitions, with Inter Milan winning 87, including their last two in the league and Italian Super Cup. AC Milan have 79 wins, while 69 matches have ended in a draw.
AC Milan (Champions League): D W D W W W
AC Milan (all competitions): W D D W D D
Inter Milan (Champions League): D W W W L W
Inter Milan (all competitions): W W W W W D
Where can you watch the game?
Global listings are available from livesoccertv.com.
You can also follow our live blog on match day.
In the other semifinal clash, Spanish giants and last year’s winners Real Madrid host English champions Manchester City at Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday.
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