One of the greatest rivalries in world soccer writes its latest chapter on Wednesday as AC Milan host Inter Milan in the Champions League semifinals first-leg action. It’s the Derby della Madonnina on one of the biggest stages, two decades after they last met in UCL semis. Both teams have won recent Serie A crowns but crave that continental glory with a chance here to get a leg up ahead of next week’s second leg. Both teams play their home games in the San Siro so no traveling will be required, but you can expect incredibly passionate crowds to feature in both legs with so much on the line.
Paramount+ is your home for all-things UCL. We’ve got all the pregame and postgame coverage you need plus make sure to check out CBS Sports Golazo Network for the tactical cam. Here’s what you need to know about the games, our expert picks and more:
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Wednesday’s broadcast schedule
By Jonathan Johnsosn
One player to watch: Rafael Leao has been one of the stars of this European season and the Portugal international is very much a key figure for Milan. A dazzling assist to tee up Olivier Giroud for the goal which helped the Rossoneri to reach this stage was nothing short of brilliant and the 23-year-old’s electric pace makes him a tricky customer for even the most experienced defenders. If Stefano Pioli’s men play to his strengths, Inter will know all about the damage that he can do having scored twice and assisted another in a 3-2 derby win earlier this campaign.
Underrated X-factor: Although Milan are technically the “home” side in this opening leg, both games will play out at their San Siro home with differing levels of Diavolo support in the crowd. It makes the “away” leg less daunting and should aid greater consistency across both legs. The sight of Champions League semifinals returning to Milan after a lengthy absence promises to be a sight to behold for any soccer neutral out there.
Biggest reason they’ll win: Mike Maignan is as decisive as they come between the sticks and although Inter boast Andre Onana in the opposite goal, the French shot stopper is arguably one of the best in the game right now. The 27-year-old has superb reflexes and is an expert when it comes to keeping penalties out too — top quality goalkeeper can win these games for teams and Maignan is one of the very best right now. In a tie which promises to be tight across both legs, the ex-Lille and PSG man could swing the tie in Milan’s favor.
Biggest reason they’ll lose: Milan’s season is riding on these two games and that puts a lot of pressure on the seven-time European kings. Win and advance to the final and the Rossoneri will be delighted with the achievement, but a loss to their bitter rivals given their wobbly form in Serie A and Europe could be gone for next campaign. Stefano Pioli and his players have 180 minutes to potentially give themselves a shot at glory and possibly continental soccer for next term too. Their 2022 Scudetto suddenly feels a long way in the past.
By Francesco Porzio
One player to watch: Andre Onana is one of the players to watch in the Derby della Madonnina’s semifinal as the goalkeeper has been a crucial player for Simone Inzaghi’s team during the current Champions League’s campaign. The former Ajax player arrived at the Italian club last summer as a free agent and soon became a starter after Inter’s captain Samir Handanovic lost his starting role after some crucial mistakes at the beginning of the season.
Underrated X-factor: Compared to their city rivals, Inter have a deeper squad. In fact, Simone Inzaghi can now finally count on the full roster apart from defender Milan Skriniar, who is still recovering from a back injury and he’s set to miss the end of the season, before joining PSG as a free agent in the summer. For the first time this year, Inter’s four strikers are all fit and Inzaghi can rotate them during the game.
Biggest reason they’ll win: Inter are in much better form right now compared to AC Milan and have won their last five games in a row, including the last four Serie A matches (including two wins against Lazio and Roma) and qualified for the Coppa Italia final that will be played at the end of the month against Fiorentina. Inter’s squad is deeper and Inzaghi can count on all the players for the final stint of the 2022-23 season.
Biggest reason they’ll lose: The Derby della Madonnina is unpredictable and AC Milan showed this year that they perform better in the Champions League compared to the Italian league. In the quarterfinals, the Rossoneri knocked out Napoli during the two legs despite the fact the team coached by Luciano Spalletti dominated Serie A this year. Portuguese winger Rafael Leao should be fit to play and after picking up a muscular injury against Lazio last Saturday, and he’s definitely the most talented player among the two sides.
It will definitely be a tense game, but as happened in 2003 when these two sides met in the Champions League semifinals they will be extra careful to not concede goals in the first game. Pick: AC Milan 0, Inter 0. — Francesco Porzio