AC Milan face Inter in the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final tomorrow night, and La Gazzetta dello Sport have picked out some of the key battles.
La Gazzetta start with the chess game between Simone Inzaghi and Stefano Pioli, the two head coaches and two of the best – if not the best – strategists in the league. Pioli has a derby win to his name this season after the 2-1 comeback win earlier this year, while Inzaghi will look for revenge.
Stefan De Vrij should return to the centre-back role and he has history against Milan this season. He scored an own-goal in the first league game and Giroud gave him a nightmare in the second league game, so they will renew hostilities.
Meanwhile, Marcelo Brozovic will likely hunted by Franck Kessie, with the Ivorian looking to disrupt the lynchpin of Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 and to provide some physicality in the area to occupy Milan Skriniar and give space to Leao and Theo Hernandez.
Hakan Calhanoglu of Inter and Ismael Bennacer of Milan will also be asked to provide creativity in the midfield, without forgetting their defensive responsibilities in what could be a fascinating duel.
Then there is the flanks, where Ivan Perisic will have to guarantee the usual attacking contribution to keep Davide Calabria pinned back (if he recovers) and to keep an eye on Junior Messias in the non-possession phase.
There are some doubts about the striker pairing Inter will use, with Lautaro Martinez expected to partner either Edin Dzeko – who is a typical centre-forward – or Joaquin Correa who acts as an attacking playmaker. Either way, they will battle with Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu who have helped keep seven clean sheets in a row.
Then, the duel between Denzel Dumfries and Theo Hernandez down Milan’s left could be worth the price of the ticket. While in the first leg of the Coppa Italia the pair were lost in the general dullness, the match on 5 February saw sparks fly as the Dutchman and the Frenchman clashed repeatedly.