UCL preview: Milan derby at San Siro
AC Milan will have to overcome a 2-0 deficit at the San Siro with Inter Milan in the lead heading into the second leg of the Champions League semifinals.
The Champions League semifinal showdown between two Milan teams, AC Milan and Inter Milan, kicks off today at 3 p.m. ET at the San Siro, the stadium they share. With the UCL final on the line, AC Milan is in a tough position as they’ll have to overcome a 2-0 deficit after the first leg.
AC Milan holds hope
It won’t be easy to overcome a two-goal deficit, but it’s certainly not impossible. One thing AC Milan has going for them is the return of Rafael Leão, who was out with an injury in the first leg. Leão was named Serie A’s most valuable player last year when AC Milan won the league. He made more assists (three) in the Champions League than any other player and his 16 chances created is only bested by teammate Sandro Tonali (19). They could possibly see Race Runic and Junior Messias back for this match, too.
“We have to try and put right the first leg,” said Tonali. “We want everyone to push us and [the fan’s support] is pushing everyone.”
“We know we are starting with a disadvantage, but we also have the quality to overturn it,” said AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli.
Opta has AC Milan’s chances of winning at just 5.5%, while Inter’s is at 94.5%. Inter has won three of their four meetings against AC Milan this season, beating them in three different competitions (Series A, Italian Super Cup, UEFA Champions League).
“We know that we deserve to be ahead, but at the same time, we know that we need to play as Inter,” said Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi. “We need to cover the field in the best way possible, knowing that we have a great team in front of us.”
If AC Milan does manage to overturn the deficit and win the match, they would make history as only the second team to ever do so in a Champions League semifinal, after Liverpool’s three-goal comeback against Barcelona in 2019.
“We have to start better than we did in the first leg,” said Pioli. “We are prepared. We don’t want to make any mistakes. If they make mistakes, we have to take advantage of them.”
Inter has kept the most clean sheets of any team in the Champions League with seven, while AC Milan sit tied at fourth with five. Inter sits at third in the Serie A table, five points ahead of fifth-place AC Milan as they look to reach the final for the first time since they were crowned champions in 2010.
“We’re 90 minutes away from a dream, which I and these wonderful guys had,” said Pioli.
The winner will play either Manchester City or Real Madrid in the Champions League final, who will play their second leg on Wednesday after a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu last week. The final will be played on June 10 in Istanbul, Turkey.