AC Milan will be looking to secure their passage into the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia by beating Inter at San Siro on Tuesday night.
The Rossoneri have made the final four of the competition in each of the last three seasons, with the last time they got knocked out in the quarter-final stage back in 2016-17.
Stefano Pioli revealed that Milan are very much wounded again going into the game, and changes are expected despite the fact it will be another important knockout derby.
Game date: Tuesday 26 January
Kick-off time: 20:45 (CET)
Venue: San Siro
Referee: Paolo Valeri
Pioli will be without five key players for the game, as Gianluigi Donnarumma will be suspended, while Matteo Gabbia, Ismael Bennacer, Hakan Calhanoglu (COVID-19) and Pierre Kalulu will all miss the game.
However, Alessio Romagnoli and Alexis Saelemaekers were both absent against Atalanta through suspension and will be back.
According to Sky (via MilanNews), Stefano Pioli will give Davide Calabria a rest, so the defence will be Diogo Dalot, Simon Kjaer, Romagnoli and Theo Hernandez in front of back-up goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusano.
Sandro Tonali will miss the game through injury, so Soualiho Meite will be in the midfield alongside Franck Kessie. Behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be Alexis Saelemaekers, Brahim Diaz and Rafael Leao.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Dalot, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo; Meite, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Diaz, Leao; Ibrahimovic.
Inter boss Antonio Conte has once again been the subject of media headlines after an explosive confrontation with the officials after Saturday’s draw with Udinese, one that moved them to two points away from Milan.
Reports are suggesting that Conte will use his 3-5-2 formation in the derby, and while Danilo D’Ambrosio remains out the back three of Bastoni, De Vrij and Skriniar should stay the same.
Roberto Gagliardini is expected to come in for Arturo Vidal, with Ashley Young and Ivan Perisic in the wing-back positions. Lukaku and Lautaro should be up front, though Alexis Sanchez could get the nod.
Probable Inter XI (3-5-2): Handanovic; Bastoni, De Vrij, Skriniar; Perisic, Gagliardini, Brozovic, Barella, Young; Martinez, Lukaku.
Head to head
There have been 226 official matches between the two teams, with Inter having won 82 and Milan 77. Prior to the Serie A meeting earlier in the season, Milan were without a win in their last eight league games against their Nerazzurri cousins.
In 2016-17 it was goals from Alex, Carlos Bacca and M’Baye Niang that made it a memorable night for the Rossoneri supporters, and earlier this season a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic was enough for Milan to take all three points.
Milan prevailed in the last cup meeting between the two sides too, with Patrick Cutrone scoring an extra-time winner in a 1-0 win that ended up propelling Gennaro Gattuso’s side in the league (they went on to win eight of their next nine).
The two sides have met four times at this stage of the Coppa Italia, with the red half of the city having prevailed three times.
➤ Inter haven’t lost in their last 4 games. Inter haven’t lost in any of their last 6 home matches. Inter have won 4 home matches in a row.
➤ Milan have lost none of their last 22 away matches. Milan have a winning streak of 3 matches away from home.
➤ Inter wins 1st half in 40% of their matches, Milan in 52% of their matches.
➤ In Coppa Italia, Milan has better performance than Inter.
➤ Inter have lost just 1 of their last 5 games against Milan (in all competitions). In the last 5 meetings Inter won 4, Milan won 1, 0 draws. The winner of their last meeting was Milan.
➤ Inter score 2.55 goals per game on average when playing at home and Milan score 2.09 goals when playing away.
➤ Average number of goals in meetings between Inter and Milan is 3.4.
➤ When Inter lead 1-0 at home, they win in 87% of their matches. When Milan leads 0-1 away, they win in 80% of their matches.
➤ When Inter are down 0-1 at home, they win 54% of their matches. When Milan are down 1-0 away, they win 0% of their matches.
➤ During the last 29 meetings with Inter playing at home, Inter have won 13 times, there have been 7 draws while Milan have won 9 times. The goal difference is 46-44 in favour of Inter.
➤ During the last 63 meetings, Inter have won 25 times, there have been 17 draws while Milan have won 21 times. The goal difference is 85-81 in favour of Inter.
Ones to watch
Three players stick out for Pioli’s side: Diogo Dalot, Soualiho Meite and Alexis Saelemaekers. Dalot ideally needs to find form fast if he is to prove to the management he is worth fighting for in terms of a permanent deal, while Meite will want to bounce back from a difficult 45-minute outing against Atalanta. Finally, Saelemaekers will want to show he is Milan’s lucky charm.
Nicolo Barella feels like the form man for Inter at the moment and is without a doubt one of Italy’s best creative midfielders, but of course all the eyes will be on the front two given they can cause any team problems and if the back three remains the same they will have an interesting battle with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
This one seems like a very difficult one to predict given that Milan will be half-rotating their team and Inter appear to be lining up strong, but with it being a cup fixture anything can happen and that is why we are optimistic for more heroics.
Prediction: Inter 1-1 Milan (Milan win on penalties)