After two pulsating first legs last week, we remain in Milan and move to Manchester as four clubs battle it out for a Champions League final berth.
Inter Milan v AC Milan (Inter lead 2-0 after first leg)
AC Milan have a mountain of work to do to progress to the Champions League Final after conceding a more-than-handy two-goal buffer to their crosstown rivals at the San Siro last week. The Rossoneri are limping towards the end of the season, and have won just one of their last five games – the latest result a 2-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Spezia over the weekend. First leg defeat means they’ve now lost to Inter on all three occasions in 2023. Worst yet, they’ve failed to score in all three games. Lack of attacking weapons is clearly becoming a significant issue for the reigning Serie A champions, having scored just nine goals in their last 10 matches. Manager Stefano Pioli will simply be hoping and praying that main man Rafael Leao can prove his fitness ahead of this huge return clash.
AC Milan ultras addressed their manager and players at full-time after their 2-0 defeat to 18th-place Spezia 😳❌ pic.twitter.com/kLHU3EBkXJ
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) May 14, 2023
Inter, conversely, are humming. Not only because they’ve won their last seven on the bounce, but because Simone Inzaghi’s forwards — by contrast with their rivals — are firing. The Nerazurri having scored 21 goals in this period (conceding just three), with two of these coming within the opening 11 minutes in the Champions League semi-final first leg. That result sees fans with their fingers over the mouse ready to book tickets to Istanbul. And history suggests they will be meeting either Manchester City or Real Madrid in the final; on 19 occasions that Inter have won a first leg ‘away’ tie in UEFA competitions, they’ve gone on to progress. They won’t, however, be taking anything for granted. The Rossoneri started to put their foot on the gas in the second half in last week’s tie, and an early goal would change things considerably. All set for another huge Champions League night at the San Siro.
Tip: Inter H2H @ $2.05
🗣️ "I wish!" 😅
Inter Milan's Edin Dzeko would love to face his former team Manchester City in the Champions League final 🏆 pic.twitter.com/DJja3r3Z8D
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 11, 2023
Manchester City vs Real Madrid (1-1 after first leg)
The world’s most successful club side hosted the world’s best club side last week, and it didn’t fail to deliver. Two sublime strikes, from Vinicius Junior and Kevin De Bruyne respectively, headlined an intriguing tactical battle. Would De Bruyne’s shot still be rising if it wasn’t for the net? It’s a fair question.
Kevin de Bruyne smashes in the equaliser🔥 Things are starting to get tense!
— Stan Sport Football (@StanSportFC) May 9, 2023
The 1-1 result sets up an enormous return clash at the Etihad. Pep Guardiola’s men would’ve walked off the happier of the two sides, having maintained their now 22-game unbeaten run in the toughest of enemy territories, and require any form of home win to progress, which they will back themselves to do. In 29 games at home this season, they’ve won 27, drawn one and lost one. It’s a formidable record, but they won’t be counting any chickens. In previous Champions League seasons Guardiola has chosen big games to make surprising selections, often to his side’s detriment. However he appears to have learnt from prior errors and almost gone too far the other way as the City manager made no substitutes in the first leg.
Los Blancos have progressed on just two of nine occasions when they failed to win the first leg of a Champions League semi-final. Antonio Rudiger was brilliant in keeping City’s main man Erling Haaland quiet in the first leg at the Bernabeu, and will need to repeat the effort should his side be a chance to progress.
Erling Haaland was averaging a Champions League goal every 58 minutes in his career.
Until he came up against Antonio Rudiger 😏 pic.twitter.com/ATjbm5yJ39
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) May 9, 2023