A place in the semi-finals of the 2020/21 Coppa Italia will be on the line when Inter Milan and AC Milan lock horns with each other on Tuesday night.

Local rivals Inter Milan and AC Milan will battle it out for the second time this season at San Siro this midweek, with a spot in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia at stake.

Inter Milan qualified for the quarter-finals of the competition after a hard-fought 2-1 (AET) win over Fiorentina earlier this month. This was followed by a 2-0 win over Juventus in Serie A, while their latest fixture ended in a goalless draw against Udinese. Antonio Conte & co. will be gunning to return to winning ways and make it to the final four in the cup competition.

AC Milan, meanwhile, had to rely on penalty shootouts to oust Torino in the Round of 16 in Coppa Italia. Stefano Pioli’s men defeated Cagliari 2-0 in the league in their subsequent fixture but were hammered 3-0 by Atalanta last time out. The Rossoneri will, thus, be aiming to produce a strong reaction and advance through to the next stage of the competition.

As mentioned earlier, Inter Milan and AC Milan have already clashed once this season, with the latter picking up a 2-1 win courtesy a Zlatan Ibrahimovic double. Ahead of their latest meeting, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

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Inter Milan will be without just one player ahead of the Derby della Madonnina, with Danilo D’Ambrosio ruled out with an injury. Matias Vecino has stepped up his recovery and could be in contention to make the matchday squad for Tuesday’s clash. Antonio Conte will be expected to make a few changes to the side that started against Udinese.

No alteration is expected between the sticks, though, with captain Samir Handanovic the undisputed starter. The first-choice back three of Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni should be retained as well, although Andrea Ranocchia is an option. The trio will have to be at the top of their game to ensure Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains quiet.

Achraf Hakimi ought to start as the right wing-back while Matteo Darmian should get a look-in on the opposite wing. The duo will be the primary source of width for the Nerazzurri during the attacking phases but will need to be wary of their AC Milan counterparts, particularly Theo Hernandez, who can be a major threat on the overlap.

Marcelo Brozovic will hold the fort in the centre of the park for Inter Milan, with support coming from Stefano Sensi, who should come in for Arturo Vidal. The third central midfield slot should be taken up by Nicolo Barella, who will be tasked with driving the team forward when on the ball.

Romelu Lukaku, who had a forgettable game against Udinese, is a certainty to feature in the two-pronged strikeforce. However, he will have a change of partners on Tuesday night, with Alexis Sanchez set to step into the side in place of Lautaro Martinez.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Sensi, Darmian; Lukaku, Sanchez

AC Milan

Unlike his counterpart in the Inter Milan dugout, AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has a number of roster issues to deal with heading into the cup tie. The Rossoneri will be without the services of Ismael Bennacer, Matteo Gabbia and Pierre Kalulu, all of whom are injured, while Hakan Calhanoglu misses out due to coronavirus.

In addition, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma will miss out due to suspension. However, there is some good news, with Alessio Romagnoli and Alexis Saelemaekers both available for selection after missing the league game against Atalanta for suspension.

Romagnoli is back after serving his suspension (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Romagnoli is back after serving his suspension (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

In goal, Ciprian Tatarusanu, who was the shootout hero against Torino last time out, should start again in the cup tie. The returning Romagnoli and Simon Kjaer should partner up at the centre of the defence and look to keep Romelu Lukaku quiet on the night.

Davide Calabria should make way for Diogo Dalot at right-back as has been the case for cup games while Theo Hernandez should feature on the left. His battle with former Real Madrid teammate Achraf Hakimi out wide could make for an interesting watch on Tuesday.

Franck Kessie and Soualiho Meite, both of whom struggled at the weekend, will look to redeem themselves against Inter Milan. The former will provide the legs in the engine room while the latter will aim to nullify the influence of Nicolo Barella. Brahim Diaz, who made a substitute appearance against Atalanta, should slot in as the No. 10 and take over the creative mantle.

With Samu Castillejo struggling of late, Saelemaekers should get the nod on the right-wing while January signing Mario Mandzukic could make his first start on the left, although he will drift inside and look to play close to star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, leaving spaces for Hernandez to run into.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Dalot, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Meite; Saelemaekers, Diaz, Mandzukic; Ibrahimovic

Key Stats

  • This will be the 25th match between Inter Milan and AC Milan in the Coppa Italia. The Nerazzurri have won just seven of those while the Rossoneri have picked up ten wins  (D7).
  • The last time these two teams met in the Coppa Italia was in the 2017/18 campaign at the quarter-final stage. AC Milan emerged 1-0 winners after extra time.
  • Prior to their 2-1 win against Inter earlier this season, AC Milan had gone five games without a win in the derby, losing four of those.
  • In 17 managerial matches against Inter Milan in his career, AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has led his team to a win on just five occasions (D4 L8).
  • Inter Milan head coach Antonio Conte has faced off against Stefano Pioli nine times in his career so far, coming out on top five times, while losing just once (D3).

Player to Watch

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The last time these two sides met, the veteran Swedish striker single-handedly fired AC Milan to a vital victory, scoring a quickfire double in the first period. Ibrahimovic has continued to spearhead the Rossoneri’s challenge in the league, and now will be aiming to do so in the cup competition as well.

Ibrahimovic will indeed be raring to go; more so, after having a disappointing game against Atalanta at the weekend, where he failed to muster up a single shot on goal in the entire match. In 15 games against former employers Inter, Ibrahimovic has scored nine goals and set up two more. And the Rossoneri’s hopes of making it to the semi-finals will ride on the broad shoulders of the 39-year-old.

Prediction

Inter Milan 1-0 AC Milan

Both Inter Milan and AC Milan head into Tuesday’s game on the back of disappointing results and will be raring to get back to winning ways. So, we can expect a tightly-contested Derby della Madonnina on Tuesday night.

The defeat against Atalanta will have hit the Rossoneri’s morale hard. And even though they will be bolstered by the return of Alessio Romagnoli, the ever-reliable Gianluigi Donnarumma will be unavailable for the game. In addition,  the absence of Hakan Calhanoglu has deprived them of their chief creative presence.

And against an Inter Milan side that has kept two clean sheets in their last two games, including one against Juventus, the Rossoneri might have problems breaking down their defence. And that is why, The Hard Tackle is predicting a narrow win for Antonio Conte & co. on Tuesday night.

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