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Serie A - Football: Milan derby with more than just cup glory on the line

18 April 2022 07:36:58 EST
Inzaghi's Inter take on rivals AC Milan

A place in the Coppa Italia final awaits the winner of the semi-final between the Milan giants - but will the outcome also be a factor in the title race?

It was honours even when Inter and Milan met at the San Siro in last month's semi-final first leg of the Coppa Italia, a 0-0 draw of few chances which has left the tie on a knife-edge heading back to the same stadium for part two.

A place in next month's final against either Juventus or Fiorentina awaits the victor and it's 1.95 that Inter qualify for the Roma showpiece on 11th May, and 1.80 Milan. You can follow the action via our European Soccer Live Streaming Highlights.

But with the two of them sitting in the top two places in Serie A, separated by just two points, will this Coppa clash between these bitter city rivals also have ramifications in the run-in for the scudetto?

Form figures favour Milan?

Inter are 2.20 to win the "home" second leg with Milan a 3.30 shot. The draw is available at 3.30.

Stefano Pioli's Milan are in fine form heading into the match having suffered just one defeat since Christmas, a shock 2-1 reverse at home to Spezia at the end of January.

Since then, the rossoneri have played 13 matches in both league and cup competitions, winning seven of them, most recently Friday's 2-0 success at home to Genoa.

They've been able to concentrate on purely domestic issues following their Champions League group-stage flop and they have become unbelievably resolute with keeper Mike Maignan keeping seven straight clean sheets.

It's generally accepted that Inter aren't playing with the same swagger and authority displayed during periods of the first half of the season, yet they are clearly doing plenty right as they chase down a domestic double.

Top scorer Lautaro Martinez grabbed his 15th goal of the season on Friday night during a 3-1 win at Spezia, a third straight league win. Simeone Inzaghi's side are undefeated in nine since that chastening double-header in the middle of February when they lost 2-0 at home to Liverpool in the Champions League and four days later were beaten by the same scoreline - again at home - by Sassuolo in the league.

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Inzaghi and Pioli leaving nothing to chance

The Coppa Italia has, rather like the FA Cup, waned in significance over the years, though there is no chance that Inzaghi or Pioli will take chances with team selection, despite both being locked in a title battle.

Martinez was left on the bench at Spezia on Friday but came on to score and is expected to start in place of Joaquin Correa, to renew his formidable strike partnership with Edin Dzeko. Martinez is 5.00 to score the first goal, Dzeko a 6.50 shot.

Alessandro Bastoni limped out of Friday's win but it was apparently nothing more than cramp and both he and Stefan de Vrij are billed to flank the magnificent Milan Skriniar in defence.

Milan, wary of the impact of Marcelo Brozovic, are expected to leave Brahim Diaz on the bench with Rade Krunic or Franck Kessie selected.

Milan are still missing Simon Kjaer and Alessandro Florenzi while Davide Calabria and Alessio Romagnoli may not be fit.

Remember, away goals do count which would work in Milan's favour if the match ends in a scoring draw.

Stakes high for scudetto scrap

Clearly this is all about making a cup final but ask anyone connected with either club, or an Italian football fan, and they nearly all believe the destiny of the league title could also hinge on this second leg.

Currently Milan are top of Serie A on 71 points with five games remaining. Inter are two points adrift but have six games to play.

Three of Milan's five outstanding matches are away, starting with a crunch trip to Europa League-chasing Lazio on Sunday.

Inter's run-in is appreciably easier featuring five games against teams in the bottom half of the table. It's the other tie that catches the eye, this Saturday's showdown with Roma, managed of course by Jose Mourinho, the man who guided Inter to back-to-back league titles in 2009 and 2010.

Giuseppe Bergomi, the former Inter hero who starred for two decades at the club, when asked if the semi-final was more than a cup tie, spoke for many when he said: "Definitely. It will influence the end of the season. The derby is decisive because defeat can often cause a backlash from which it is not easy to recover."

As it stands Inter are 6.50 to retain their league title, Milan 1.12 to win their first since 2011. But will those odds look any different after Coppa Italia bragging rights have been settled?

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