Inter Milan must think on their feet and be adaptable against rivals AC Milan, manager Simone Inzaghi said on Tuesday ahead of his side’s bid to overturn a losing Champions League record against their familiar foes.
Italian rivals Inter and Milan, who have won a combined 10 Champions League titles, have faced each other on two occasions in the knockout stages, with Milan emerging victorious in both previous ties – played in 2003 and 2005.
However, Inter have been more successful in recent meetings, winning three and drawing two of the seven derbies the teams have played since Inzaghi took over as Inter manager in 2021.
Those wins have included 3-0 victories in the Italian Supercup final earlier this year and last year’s Coppa Italia semi-finals.
“We have played many times, I said it before. Seven. We have won, lost, made semi-finals, finals,” Inzaghi told reporters ahead of the sides’ semi-final first-leg meeting at the San Siro on Wednesday.
“We will have to be very good at using our heads when we need to, because there are always unexpected events in such important matches: in the last ones, we have always been good at being lucid.
“It’s a very important match as other finals have been. It’s not a derby, but the derby. We know what it means for us, for the club, for the fans, even for myself. But I’m quite serene, I’ve seen the boys very focused.”
Inter’s hopes of securing a first victory over Milan in Europe’s top competition have been handed a boost by an injury to forward Rafael Leao, who was substituted in the 11th minute of Milan’s 2-0 home win over Lazio in Serie A on Saturday.
Inzaghi said the Portuguese international’s absence will have little impact on Inter’s preparations, adding: “We all know the qualities of the player.
“We know he may or may not be there, clearly we will make some adjustments but it will not affect our game plan.”
Inter’s last meeting with Milan in the Champions League semi-finals came 20 years ago in the 2002-03 season, when Milan beat them enroute to a sixth European title.
Midfielder Federico Dimarco, a childhood Inter fan, said he was at the San Siro for that tie but insisted revenge was not on his mind.
“It’s been a long time and we think about the present, about tomorrow, about trying to get a positive result and that’s it,” the 25-year-old said.
“I don’t have great memories (of the tie), as an Inter fan. But to think that 20 years ago I was there to see it and today I have the chance to play it is an incredible emotion.
“It’s a team we know well, we know we’re facing the reigning Italian champions anyway. It will be a good match.”
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