The Lombard capital is already assured of being in the final, on June 10 in Istanbul, against Manchester City or Real Madrid. It remains to designate the lucky winner, between the club rossonero already winner seven times of the prestigious competition (last in 2007) and its great rival nerazzurro crowned three times (ultimate in 2010).

If the other half between Pep Guardiola's City and Carlo Ancelotti's Real opposes what is probably the best in terms of play in Europe, the Italian "derbissimo" promises to be a summit of passions and history between the two neighbors opposed for the 236th time, in all competitions, since the first time in 1909.

In the Champions League, the two rivals of the Madonnina, the name of the virgin overlooking the Milan Duomo, giving its name to the derby, have already faced each other four times. But that goes back twenty years, to a time when Serie A still attracted the biggest stars of football, some of whom are expected in the stands like Andrei Shevchenko or Cafu.

In 2003, it was already in the semi-finals: Milan qualified thanks to the goal scored "away" (0-0, 1-1), not without irony given that the two clubs share the same stadium San Siro Giuseppe-Meazza.

Inter at the rendezvous

Romelu Lukaku the Belgian striker of Inter Milan celebrates his second goal scored during the Serie A match against AS Roma on May 6, 2023 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome © Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Two years later, it was in a quarter-final that was more electric than ever. The second leg did not go to an end due to smoke throwing by the tifosi interists, one of whom had hit the goalkeeper rossonero Dida. Milan, already winners in the first leg (2-0), had a match won on the green carpet in the return (3-0).

Ancelotti was then the coach of AC Milan during these four matches and had thus confirmed the supremacy in the European Cup of the Rossoneri, the most successful in C1 behind the inaccessible Real Madrid (14 victories).

But will the weight of history be enough for Olivier Giroud and others against the confidence of Inter Milan?

Simone Inzaghi's team has indeed won the two derbies played in 2023, notably giving Milan the lesson in the Italian Super Cup (3-0) in January before winning the league (1-0).

Despite a bumpy season, the Nerazzurri have always been at the rendezvous in C1, extricating themselves from a strong group, with Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona, both now out of the race in Europe.

Leao uncertainty

They arrive especially towards the end of the season in great form, with a series of five consecutive victories, in all competitions, having beaten Juventus, Lazio and Roma while scoring fifteen goals. Romelu Lukaku has chased his spleen with five goals since the beginning of April, regaining his agreement with Argentine Lautaro Martinez.

AC Milan's Portuguese defender Rafael Leao during a training session at the Milanello Sports Centre in Carnago near Milan, Italy on May 9, 2023 © Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

AC Milan, for its part, may have to do without its offensive arrow Rafael Leao, quickly replaced Saturday against Lazio (2-0) because of an alert to the adductor of the right thigh.

Something to worry about Stefano Pioli: the Rossoneri have won this season only one of the ten games where the Portuguese has not started, whether he has entered the game or not played at all. Leao had been decisive in the quarterfinals of C1 against Napoli, decisive passer in the first leg (1-0) as in the return thanks to a fantastic ride from his camp (1-1).

"We can also play a great game without a decisive player like him," warned Stefano Pioli.

Even if he knows how much Milan will need him for the end of the season, both to dream in the Champions League but also to try to return to Serie A in the top four qualifying for the next C1 - the reigning champions are currently 5th.

© 2023 AFP