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

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan and Inter will meet for the fourth time this season at San Siro tonight and this time a spot in the Coppa Italia final is up for grabs.

Having played out a stalemate in the first leg during Milan’s ‘home’ game, the Rossoneri now have the away goals rule tilted in their favour meaning a score draw and a win would be enough to see them progress to the Rome final. An Inter win obviously sees them through, while 0-0 means extra-time and possible penalties.

Like every derby there are a number of fascinating sub-plots which will form the battles that decide the game. We start with Theo Hernandez, who is a fundamental player for Milan which his 9 assists and 4 goals show, but the left-back has never managed to be truly protagonist in a derby since he joined Milan. He has played in eight and has only missed one, and in the league game earlier this year he got into a spat with Denzel Dumfries which ended in a red card, so hostilities will be renewed

Then there is the renewal of the duel between Olivier Giroud and Stefan De Vrij. The Frenchman scored a match-winning brace in the 2-1 win back in early February and memorable span the Dutch centre-back before slotting in for the winning goal. Giroud has had a knack for coming through in the big moments and will look to do the same tonight.

Franck Kessie’s ability to play the No.10 role effectively and cut off Marcelo Brozovic’s attempts to dictate the midfield will be crucial. The Croatian is without a doubt the lynchpin of Simone Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 as he is the deep-lying playmaker, but the Ivorian must also cause some issues with his movement and physicality for Inter’s three centre-backs, perhaps in turn freeing space for Giroud and Leao.

There will be an all-Italian battle in the middle of the park too as Nicolo Barella will be in his usual creative role for the Nerazzurri and he will come up against the Rossoneri’s pace-setter Sandro Tonali, who has been the leader of the midfield this season and feels these games a lot more being a Milanista.

Finally, Edin Dzeko has 17 goals in 42 games for Inter which is not a bad return for a man Roma were happy to let go of, and he will go up against Fikayo Tomori with Milan’s seven-game clean sheet run on the line. There is also the interesting sub-plot that Dzeko and Giroud could have both ended up on the opposite side of the Navigli in a pair of sliding doors moments.

Tags AC Milan Inter Milan
Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.