The five key battles that could win or lose the game for Milan against Inter

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan and Inter will contest another derby tonight, but this time it will be in Saudi Arabia and this time there will be a trophy at stake.

Milan come into the game at the King Fahd Stadium with just one win in their first four games of 2023 and while Inter have three in comparison, the feeling is that both sides are in need of a morale boost that winning a game like this would provide.

As all derbies seem to be, the outcome of the game will be heavily influenced by some key battles across the pitch, starting with Olivier Giroud against Francesco Acerbi. The 36-year-old French striker has three goals in the last two league derbies and could become the oldest players to find the net in Supercoppa history with a goal, and he will face off against a fellow veteran (Acerbi is 34) who is standing in for Stefan de Vrij and was actually linked with Milan over the summer.

If Giroud could become the oldest scorer, Edin Dzeko would take that honour off him if he scored (they are 36 years, 110 days and 36 years, 307 days respectively on the date of the match). The Bosnian striker scored in the last meeting to set up a nervy finish in the Rossoneri’s eventual 3-2 win, and he faces a battle that will likely be against another fellow veteran in Simon Kjaer, who is tipped to start as Pioli looks to deal with the obvious aerial threat.

Moving to the middle of the field, it would be amiss of us not to mention the obvious all-Italian battle between Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Barella. The duo are Azzurri team-mates and no doubt friends off the field, but have contested some fierce battles on the field with both putting everything on the line for their team, Tonali in particular given he is a Milanista.

Rafael Leao and Milan Skriniar have quite a lot of similarities away from the field with rumours of interest from top clubs abroad and a renewal situation to solve, but on the field they will be direct opponents. Leao very much got the better of Inter in the victory back in September, scoring a match-winning brace, but Skriniar will be out for revenge knowing that cutting off the threat of the Portuguese will give his side a good chance.

Finally, we expected to end by talking about Theo Hernandez and Denzel Dumfries renewing hostilities but the Dutchman seems set to start from the bench, so we have chosen Brahim Diaz versus Hakan Calhanoglu.

Brozovic has been the man tasked with pinning the Spanish playmaker in the past to varying degrees of success, but tonight it will be the former Milan man who cannot leave space between the lines as the deeper-lying playmaker, while Brahim must also disrupt the Turk’s attempts to dictate the tempo of the game.

Tags AC Milan Milan Inter
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