The prospect of a local derby has added another level to the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League semifinals, as Inter Milan were paired with arch foes AC Milan, in a high-stakes Derby della Madonnina.
An all-Serie A semifinal means Italy will have a representative in the final for the first time since 2017, with Inter not reaching the final since winning the Champions League in 2012, after AC Milan were victorious in 2007.
However, despite the huge excitement surrounding two eagerly-anticipated semifinal showdowns, a European rematch also evokes memories of the 2005 Champions League battle between the two San Siro neighbours.
After meeting for the fourth time in three seasons, in Champions League action alone, the quarterfinal second leg was marred by ugly scenes involving the Inter fans.
Inter Milan vs AC Milan: Flare chaos causes Champions League drama
The 2002/03 Champions League semifinal meeting passed with little incident, as Andriy Shevchenko's penalty sealed a 1-1 second leg draw, and Milan progressed to the final on 'away' goals.
However, the 2004/05 quarterfinals were packed with controversy, as Carlo Ancelotti looked to find a way to overcome Milan again.
After securing a routine 2-0 'home' win, Milan were leading 1-0 in the return game, before the match descended into chaos in the second half as the Inter fans repeatedly threw flares on to the pitch.
As the flares and fireworks continued to land on the San Siro pitch, match referee Markus Merk twice suspended play, and called for a stadium announcement to ask the perpetrators to stop.
On this day in 2005, AC Milan vs. Inter Milan was abandoned due to flares being thrown onto the pitch.— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 12, 2020
Goalkeeper Dida was struck by one, while Marco Materazzi and Rui Costa stood side by side in what became an iconic football photo 📸 pic.twitter.com/rxnnJUaN6J
However, as smoke filled the stadium, Milan goalkeeper Dida was hit by a flare thrown from the crowd, and Merk immediately abandoned the game.
UEFA officials backed Merk's decision, with stadium security and police advice blocking a potential restart, and AC Milan were subsequently handed a 3-0 "walkover" by UEFA.
Despite the famous images of superstar players lost in the San Siro fog, the behaviour of the Inter supporters was rightfully condemned by both sides, and Europe's governing body.
On this day in 2005, AC Milan vs. Inter Milan was abandoned due to flares being thrown onto the pitch and this iconic photo was born 📸 pic.twitter.com/1wbWN0ctJc— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 12, 2021
Inter were later handed a £132,000/$165,000 fine for the incident and ordered to play their following four European matches behind closed doors.
Milan vs Inter history head to head
In total, across 235 official matches, Inter have a derby advantage, with 87 wins, compared to Milan's 79, and 69 draws.
|Competition||Matches||AC Milan wins||Inter Milan wins||Draws|
|Campionato Alta Italia||2||1||1||0|
*Includes all league championships matches played before Serie A's inception in 1929.
+Stats above up to date as of May 2, 2023.
Milan vs Inter trophies
As part of their incredible rivalry, both teams have enjoyed spells of domestic dominance across the last century, with a strong revival in recent seasons.
Following Juventus' Serie A dominance, with nine successive league titles from 2012 to 2020, the Milanese duo hauled themselves back into title contention, as Antonio Conte won the Scudetto at Inter in 2021, and Stefano Pioli claimed it for Milan in 2022.
|AC Milan||Inter Milan|
|Serie A titles||19||19|
|Campionato Alta Italia||—||—|
|European Cup/Champions League||7||3|
|European Cup Winners' Cup/UEFA Cup*||2||3|
|European/UEFA Super Cup||5||0|
|Intercontinental/FIFA Club World Cup||4||3|
*European Cup Winners' Cup refers to AC Milan, UEFA Cup refers to Inter Milan