Inter have AC in their sights tonight

Sat, Apr 2, 2011, 01:00

ITALIAN SERIE A: AC Milan v Inter Milan:REIGNING EUROPEAN champions Inter Milan can climax a remarkable seasonal comeback in the most satisfactory of all ways by knocking city cousins AC Milan off the top of the table in an A1 clash at the San Siro tonight.

For weeks now, this game has been a sell-out, guaranteeing a 78,000 attendance for box office takings just short of €3 million.

With just eight games left to play in Serie A, neither set of fans needs reminding of the importance of this game. AC Milan come into the match two points clear of their great city rivals but struggling a little in the wake not only of that Champions League elimination by Spurs but also having lost to Palermo (1-0) and drawn with Bari (1-1) in their last two Serie A outings.

In contrast, Inter come into the game with the wind fairly in their sails. Not only are Inter still on course in the Champions League, where they meet German side Schalke 04 in the quarter-finals, but this 176th league derby could also see them climax a Serie A comeback that has seen them reduce the gap with Milan from 13 points to just two.

Furthermore, Inter morale has been much boosted by the nature of the team’s second-round Champions League win over Bayern Munich. Beaten 1-0 in the first home leg of the tie, Inter pulled off arguably their most important win of the season when they eliminated Bayern with a 3-2 return leg win at the Allianz Arena stadium in Munich.

In the wake of their December Fifa World Club Cup win, of course, Inter controversially sacked Spanish coach Rafa Benitez, replacing the former Liverpool boss with ex-AC Milan coach, Brazilian Leonardo. The new man at Inter has managed to change his Milanese spots in double quick time, not only guiding the Champions League comeback against Bayern but also winning 12 and drawing one of his 15 Serie A games in charge since his late December appointment.

Inter’s Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o, scorer of 32 goals in all competitions this season, explained the side’s good moment this week: “We have had less injuries recently and that has changed a lot of things . . . Previously there was pessimism, now we have refound our confidence . . . and we are still on course for everything, league title included.”

Both sides will be missing at least one key player since Inter’s Brazilian defender Lucio and Milan’s Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, are both ruled out through suspension.

PROBABLE TEAMS

AC MILAN:(4-3-1-2) Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Antonini; Gattuso, Seedorf, Ambrosini; Boateng; Pato, Robinho.

INTER MILAN:(4-3-1-2) Julio Cesar; Maicon, Ranocchia, Chivu, Zanetti; Stankovic, Thiago Motta, Cambiasso; Sneijder; Eto’o, Pazzini.

Venue:San Siro

Kick-off:Tonight, 7.45pm

On TV:ESPN