It’s fair to say that most Inter Milan supporters never dreamed of being in this position. After years in the doldrums as far as the Champions League is concerned, they now find themselves in the final, one match away from immortality and a fourth European crown.
Standing in their way are Manchester City, who are understandably favourites in the Champions League winner betting. Few would disagree that Pep Guardiola’s side are the best club side in the world right now, and one of the best teams ever to grace the game, so that is the extent of the challenging facing Inter in Istanbul. City have already claimed the Premier League title and the FA Cup, so they’ll be giving it everything to secure an historic treble.
Inter are on a mission to write they own fairy tale though. If they could get their hands on the European Cup, it would be a momentous achievement that would go down as one of the greatest in the club’s history. Times have been tough at the club since they last won the Champions League in 2010, and another triumph would be a real fillip for their supporters.
Fans of the Nerazzurri may feel that they can ride the momentum picked up so far in the competition all the way to glory. It began by coming through a difficult group that contained both Bayern Munich and Barcelona, with a win over the Spanish giants at San Siro giving fans hope that a deep run in the competition could be on the cards.
After finishing second behind Bayern, they took on Porto in the round of 16 and scraped through 1-0 on aggregate. While Inter’s performances were nothing to write home about, it was a good sign that they were able to grind out the results they needed to secure progression to the quarter-finals. In many ways, it was reminiscent of the Italian sides of old, famed for their defensive nous.
Another Portuguese opponent stood in their way at the quarter-final stage, with Benfica this time standing between Inter and a first Champions League semi-final since they won the competition in 2010. An impressive 2-0 win in the first leg at the Estadio da Luz put them in pole position, and although the second leg ended up a 3-3 thriller, Inter had safely booked their spot in the last four.
Then came the real test — a semi-final tie against city rivals AC Milan. It’s the kind of tie that gets football fans mouths watering, and Inter would prove that they were up for the occasion. Despite AC Milan being the designated ‘home’ side at the San Siro in the first leg, Inter took the bull by the horns, establishing an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Edin Dzeko and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Simeone Inzaghi’s side controlled the tie from that point on, and won the second leg 1-0 thanks to a second half strike from Lautaro Martinez. Their date with destiny in Istanbul was confirmed.
It’ll be a huge test against Manchester City, but in each of their Champions League ties, Inter have relied on the intangible power of momentum. They’ll be hoping that one last big push can bring them glory.
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