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AC Milan vs Inter: Preview of the Coppa Italia Milan derby

The Coppa Italia is often viewed as a secondary competition in Italy, much like the Europa League. There usually is not much to get excited about because the top teams view it as an opportunity to rest their regular starters and give some players who have not played much an opportunity.

Tonight, however, that all takes a back seat because there is a Derby della Madoninna, or Milan Derby. What's even more interesting is the fact that both teams need a victory badly. Milan needs a good result for obvious reasons, while Inter's form has dropped dramatically in the past few weeks. Since their 0-0 draw in the top of the table clash with Juventus, they've advanced on penalties against Serie C minnows Pordenone in the Coppa Italia, and lost to Udinese and Sassuolo back to back in Serie A. After leading Serie A going into that Juventus match, they have now fallen five points behind league leaders Napoli.

Both clubs are taking this seriously, as they are featuring many of their regulars in the probable lineups, although Gigio Donnarumma, Miranda and D'Ambrosio will miss the match due to injury. Here is how the squads are expected to take shape:

Milan (4-3-3): Storari; Calabria, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Locatelli; Suso, Kalinic, Bonaventura

Inter (4-2-3-1): Padelli; Cancelo, Ranocchia, Skriniar, Nagatomo; Vecino, Gagliardini; Candreva, Joao Mario, Perisic; Icardi

Players to watch

Milan - Manuel Locatelli

Locatelli has not received much playing time this season, but he has played well in the Milan derby during his very young career. Look for him to cement his place in the lineup and put in another solid performance against Inter.

Inter - Joao Mario

Mario has been very inconsistent in his Inter career. He has had solid performances coming on as a sub, but has not featured regularly due to his inconsistency. He is getting an opportunity to start this evening and will want to take advantage.

Prediction: Milan 2-1 Inter

We will learn a lot about both teams tonight, as they really both need the victory. Milan, though, need it more. It is an opportunity for them to jump start their season and start the new year off right. Last time these two teams met, a 3-2 victory for Inter in Serie A, the second half was perhaps Milan's best spell of the season. The 4-3-3 formation allows players such as Rodriguez, Bonaventura and Suso to all play in comfortable positions, and with Miranda and D'Ambrosio missing from Inter's lineup due to injury, look for the Milan attack to cause problems. Inter will score as well, as Milan's defense always gives up very good goal scoring opportunities and Icardi will take advantage. The rossoneri are desperate for a result as they will not want to crash out of this competition given their poor form in Serie A, and they should get it.

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