Inter Milan are capable of beating Real Madrid or Manchester City – Champions League successes and failures

Inter Milan are capable of beating Real Madrid or Manchester City – Champions League successes and failures

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Don’t count them, Inter can beat Real or City

Inter Milan play in their first Champions League final since 2010

Even the most ardent Inter Milan fan couldn’t argue that the Nerazzurri will enter the Champions League final on June 10 as anything other than underdogs.

The fourth-best team in Serie A this season will face either Champions League specialists Real Madrid or the most in-form team in Europe against Manchester City.

But what Inter can rightly say is that they can hurt anyone who stands in their way in Istanbul. Not necessarily in terms of quality, but literally hurting the teams emotionally.

The June final is likely to be played similarly to Tuesday’s semi-final second leg with AC Milan. Milan wanted the goals, they pressed high, they put the pressure on. But Inter remained firm – and frustrated.

The first half of the San Siro second leg saw 22 fouls – the most in the first half of a Champions League game this season. Fourteen of these fouls were committed by AC Milan players.

Simone Inzaghi (right) has won his last five cup finals as manager of Inter Milan and Lazio
Simone Inzaghi (right) has won his last five cup finals as manager of Inter Milan and Lazio

Inter halted play, using fouls to get them up the pitch. More importantly, it gave them time to slow down time and frustrate their impatient opponents. A similar tactic in the final is expected.

But it’s not just about smart street tactics. Inter have a lot to offer for the future.

Their forward options of Lautaro Martinez, Romelu Lukaku and Edin Dzeko have enough verve, nerve and composure to damage any defence. Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco were major positives in the semi-final matches. Hakan Calhonoglu and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are expert playmakers from deep alongside Nicolo Barella.

And then there’s manager Simone Inzaghi – who is becoming one of the best cup specialists in Europe.

The Italian won his last five cup finals for Inter and Lazio, you can’t count him for this Champions League, with the team and the culture he has with the Nerazzurri.
Sam Blitz

AC Milan limps and may not be back anytime soon

Inter's Henrikh Mkhitaryan (right) challenges AC Milan's Sandro Tonali in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final
Inter’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan (right) challenges AC Milan’s Sandro Tonali

AC Milan deserve credit for getting this far, but the way they came out – limp and without even a fight against their fiercest rivals – ensures that this Champions League campaign will not be remembered . In truth, they looked out of their depth.

They had their moments in the first half, with Brahim Diaz fending off a great chance early on and Rafael Leao firing narrowly wide, but, coming out of the interval needing something special, they looked more like a team beaten. Inter played with them.

The gap between the two sides is just five points in Serie A but the chasm looked huge as Simone Inzaghi’s side, having already underlined their superiority in the first leg, simply stroked the ball and waited for their chance to kill the draw.

Lautaro Martinez’s cruelty stands in stark contrast to what happened at the other end of the pitch, where Olivier Giroud floundered and Leao and Diaz offered nothing either side of him.

Surprisingly, despite circumstances requiring two goals and a place in the Champions League final, Stefano Pioli’s side could only manage one shot in the entire second half.

It was a miserable way to bow out, as jubilant Inter fans celebrated, and the stark reality is that, sitting four points behind fourth-placed Lazio domestically, it may take be a while before they come back to this scene.
Nick Wright

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