UEFA Champions League Semi-Final, 1st Leg Preview: Inter’s Attack Back To It’s Best Against AC Milan

Inter Milan’s LuLa attack appears back to its best ahead of the Champions League semifinal showdown against city rival AC Milan.

The partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez earned the LuLa nickname during the former’s first spell at the club, when their goals drove Inter to the Serie A title in 2021.

While Martínez has continued to spearhead the attack since then, Lukaku had struggled with injury and poor form after returning on loan from Chelsea in the offseason.

However, Lukaku has now struck three goals in as many Serie A games — doubling his tally for the season. He has also contributed further with three assists in those matches.

Martínez has netted five times in his past four games to take his tally to 19 in the league.

Inter’s defenders have also been helping out with the goals. Federico Dimarco’s opener in Saturday’s 2-0 Serie A win at Roma was set up by fellow full back Denzel Dumfries.

Inter appears now to be attacking and defending as a team and that bodes well for the Champions League semifinals, with the first leg against AC Milan on Wednesday.

“I think we’ve improved a lot in that aspect,” Lukaku said. “We’re scoring lots and not conceding many. And I think lots of players can make the difference and that’s important.”

Inter has won its last five matches in all competitions, scoring 15 goals and conceding just one. Prior to that run, Inter had won just one of its previous nine games in all competitions.

“What has changed is that now I have the possibility to rotate important players, especially in attack,” Inter coach Simone Inzaghi said. “I didn’t have that for a long time and the situation has changed a lot now.

“I didn’t have Marcelo Brozović from Oct. 1 until the end of January — they were four very long months. The same with Lukaku. Both of them are back to doing what they do best and I hope that continues until the end.”

Inter is also bidding for a treble as it plays Fiorentina in the Italian Cup final on May 24. The Nerazzurri beat Milan to lift the Italian Super Cup in January.

While Inzaghi has almost a fully fit squad to choose from, Milan coach Stefano Pioli could be missing a key player.

Rafael Leão limped off in the 11th minute of Saturday’s 2-0 win against Lazio in Serie A, shortly after pulling up and clutching the top of his right thigh.

The forward returned to training on Tuesday but worked separately from his teammates.

Pioli will have to decide on Wednesday whether to risk him for the match, have him on the bench or leave the Portugal forward out completely.

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