On the evening of Grande Milano, it is the Nerazzurri half who puff out their chests and feel a little bigger than the other part of the city, the Rossoneri. In fact, the first semi-final of the Champions League belongs entirely to Inter, who with a terrible one-two at the start of the match knocks out Milan and books the final in Istanbul. Anything can happen in the derby, especially if Pioli recovers for Leao’s return; but if the balance of power is the one seen tonight in the first act at San Siro, Inzaghi can believe in it much more than his AC Milan colleague.
The 2-0 final was signed by Dzeko and Mkhitarya, who scored in three minutes at the start of the match. It is the image of a Milan that has lost its compass and an Inter that has rediscovered the verve and knows how to be devastating. If anything, the flaw of the evening was not having had the ferocity to score the third goal that would have killed any opposing hope. And Inter appeared ever closer to scoring, even at 2-0, even when Milan were chasing them. Among the sets of the Curve and VIPs in the stands – from Djokovic to La Russa – the shocking pink hair of Theo Hernandez stands out at the beginning, a harbinger of the Milan evening, and the small group in which the Rossoneri embrace in the center of the field, to form a group.
On the other front, Inter are on the pitch with shirts without sponsors, and it looks like a derby from another time. Leao is also sitting in the stands, who cannot recover and is only partially consoled with the upcoming renewal. Instead of him, Salemakers. In Inter, on the other hand, Inzaghi relies on the most fit attacking duo of the moment, Dzeko-Lautaro, reserving Lukaku’s freshness and physical strength for the occasion. The beginning is pure run-up of the opponent. Inter keeps the ball, Milan attacks him. They look like chess more than football, but the queen and maybe even the king are eaten by the terrible Nerazzurri one-two, between 8′ and 11′, in the first real actions: first Dzeko, with a volley on the corner that opens the account of corners, signs the 1-0, then Mikhtaryan enters the center of the area on a restart and a veil from Lautaro and signs the double.
Milan, who also immediately lost Bennacer replaced by Messias in the three behind Giroud, swerved conspicuously; in the 15th minute there was only the post to deprive Chalanoglu of the joy of the third goal. The Rossoneri struggled to regroup, while the opponent looked for the knockout blow. The Devil’s first backlash is at half an hour: Messias cross, Calabria’s heel is out. Two minutes after Lautaro’s fall in the area, the penalty is worth it, which the Var takes away from Inter, to the good fortune of Milan. With Dumfries sills (34′) Inter remain dangerous. Salemakers tries to shake up the Rossoneri maneuver on the wing, messy in the dribble and without changes of pace.
In the second half, therefore, Pioli’s team tries to charge headlong in search of the goal that reopens the games in view of the second leg, and stands out in the first minutes: a shot by Diaz, a descent by Messias that wastes wide while Giroud is free. Inter, driven by the dynamism of Barella and the class of Dezko, appear more effective. Part of the credit also goes to the unusual central holes in the Rossoneri’s defence: there in the 8th minute Dzeko slips in for a shot with a sure shot, but Maignan keeps his team alive with his foot. At the end of the first hour, Inzaghi has already switched Mkhitaryba with Brozovic for better management, while Pioli inserts Origi for Salemakers. The aim is to increase the offensive potential, and Tonali has the good opportunity on the right foot at the end of a good Rossoneri combination: it’s the 18th minute, the post and a slight deflection from Bastoni extinguish the Rossoneri’s hopes. It’s also Lukaku’s time, inside for Dzeko, when both teams seem tired, in the 25th minute. The match actually fell asleep, Milan didn’t strike and Inter didn’t dare, even if the only good ball came from him and was wasted by substitute Gagliardini. Appointment in six days, again at San Siro, for another derby. It’s another story, Pioli hopes, because at the moment the final in Istanbul has more Nerazzurri colours.
Inzaghi, “great race, one step away from the dream” – “We had an extraordinary first half: now it’s right to be happy but we know that we still need one small step to make a dream come true. It’s not over, it’s almost there…”. This was said by Simone Inzaghi, Inter coach, after the victory over Milan in the semi-final first leg. “We could have scored more than two goals – he added to Tv8 – The boys were good at covering every inch of the pitch, I asked them to play with their heads and hearts and they did it”.
Pioli, “heavy knockout but we believe in recovery”. “In the first, Inter were better than us, more effective in creating chances. It’s a heavy result, but we have to believe that by playing as we know how we can recover.” Stefano Pioli, on Sky, tried to shake up his Milan after the knockout in the Champions League derby. “The team had to manage the ball better in the first half and lost many duels. In the second we played with a different rhythm – continued the coach – and we did better”. In the second leg, Pioli will try to reverse the situation “playing for Milan, with quality and intensity, putting a lot of pressure on Inter”.
Many VIPs present at the Scala del Calcio for this night of stars: many personalities from the world of sport and entertainment arrived in dribs and drabs at the San Siro, expected for the first leg semi-final between Milan and Inter. In the list of awaited personal, Nole Djokovic and Pierre Gasly, Matteo Berrettini and Melissa Satta, Antonio Giovinazzi and Elettra Lamborghini. Many influencers, actors and TV personalities, with the presence of Il Volo, Alessandro Cattelan, Lazza, Irama, Rkomi, Sangiovanni and Gianmaria in the stands.
The official formations for Milan-Inter: Rossoneri on the pitch with Saelemaekers from the first minute e Leo in the stands, nerazzurri with the ex Calhanoglu in place of Brozovic. Milan therefore lines up with a 4-2-3-1, with Maignan in goal, Calabria’s defense line, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo Hernandez, two-way midfield with Krunic-Tonali, and then Diaz, Bennacer, and Saelemaekers behind Giroud . Inzaghi lines up Inter with a 3-5-2 formation: Darmian, Acerbi and Bastoni in front of goal defended by Onana, then Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco, and the Dzeko-Lautaro couple in attack.
A “Very Exciting Date”, at the “end of a very difficult journey. But being here means having worked hard, in an anomalous year for the winter soccer world cup”. So the CEO of Inter, Beppe Marotta, speaking to Prime Video a few minutes before the Champions League semi-final against Milan. The manager regretted the “ups and downs in the league” which instead “we didn’t have in the Champions League”. “The final evaluation of the season must be done at the end,” added Marotta. “We have honored the competitions in which we have participated. The black dot of the championship remains in which perhaps we gave up too quickly, and not only us, also thanks to Napoli” concluded the Nerazzurri manager.
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