Preview: AC Milan vs. Inter Milan 

Preview: AC Milan vs. Inter Milan 

Separated by just two points in the Serie A standings, AC Milan and city rivals Inter Milan meet at San Siro on Tuesday, as they contest the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final.

In the second Derby della Madonnina of the season, the Rossoneri play ‘host’ to their stadium-sharing foes and will aim to take one step closer to a sixth national cup – a trophy their Nerazzurri counterparts have won on seven previous occasions.

With thoughts of the Scudetto race momentarily on hold, both Milanese giants now turn their thoughts towards chasing Coppa Italia glory, after a prolonged barren spell for Italy’s second city in the competition.

While Inter have not lifted the cup for over a decade, and still dream of a first domestic double since the Jose Mourinho era, Milan’s drought goes back further – to 2003, when Andriy Shevchenko and Rivaldo were among the scorers in their final win over Roma.

Ahead of the 26th Derby in Coppa Italia history – where the overall ledger sees the Rossoneri in front by 10 wins to eight following a quarter-final victory for the Nerazzurri last year – the balance between the clubs is finely poised.

Second-placed Milan emerged on top in the teams’ most recent league meeting – a 2-1 comeback win just a few weeks ago, where Olivier Giroud stole the points with a late brace – and they are still marginally ahead in the Serie A pecking order after last Friday’s events.

Having seen Inter beaten by Sassuolo once they had drawn at rock-bottom Salernitana a week previously, Stefano Pioli’s side again slipped up in the opening game of the weekend – being held 1-1 at home by lowly Udinese. They retained their slim points advantage, though, as their rivals were unable to see off another struggling side, Genoa.

Now turning their attention back to knockout football – having already been eliminated from the Champions League – Milan fans can reflect on a rich history in the Coppa Italia when playing host at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

The five-times cup winners have lost only two of their last 18 home games in the competition – though, of course, such an advantage counts for far less when encountering Inter at San Siro.

After three successive exits in the last eight, Inter have now progressed from their last two Coppa Italia quarter-finals following victory over Roma in the previous round.

However, that 2-0 victory over former boss Mourinho’s current side remains their most recent, as Simone Inzaghi has since seen his team draw two and lose two of their past four outings.

In fact, starting with their collapse in the final stages against Milan at the start of last month, Inter have won just once in six games – being beaten at home by Champions League opponents Liverpool and mid-table Serie A side Sassuolo, while taking a point home from trips to title rivals Napoli and 19th-placed Genoa.

The Nerazzurri still have a game in hand on their fellow Scudetto hopefuls, though, and could yet go one better than last year’s long-awaited championship triumph by going on to claim a domestic double – in spite of Milan’s best efforts to stop them.

Now at the only stage of the Coppa to be played over two legs, the away goals rule has been retained until next term, so Inzaghi will be keen to earn an advantage this week by scoring at least once in Tuesday’s ‘away’ leg.

Such margins could decide the destiny of this second city clash, which will ultimately select the side to face either Juventus or Fiorentina in May’s showpiece final.

AC Milan Coppa Italia form:
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AC Milan form (all competitions):
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Inter Milan Coppa Italia form:
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Inter Milan form (all competitions):
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We say: AC Milan 0-1 Inter Milan
After cruising through to this stage with wins over Genoa and Lazio in the previous rounds, Milan have since started to falter in the league – but they now meet an Inter side that suffered an even worse case of February blues.

However, the combination of a lust for revenge following their recent Derby loss and the improbability of their winless run stretching to a fifth straight match should see Inzaghi’s men edge it.

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