Inter Milan reached the Champions League final by defeating city rivals AC Milan 3-0 on aggregate.
The Nerazzurri, who will face either Real Madrid or Manchester City in Istanbul on June 10, were the last Italian club to win the competition, beating Bayern Munich 2-0 under Jose Mourinho in the 2010 final.
Here, the PA news agency picks out some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Serie A side.
Inter’s progression to the showpiece match at the Ataturk Stadium owes a lot to a stingy defence. Simone Inzaghi’s combative team emerged from a group containing Bayern Munich and Barcelona. They have kept a tournament-high eight clean sheets in their 12 matches, including five from six in the knockout stages, with goalkeeper Andre Onana a star performer.
Argentinian World Cup winner Martinez has scored 20 times in Serie A this term – a tally bettered only by Napoli’s Victor Osimhen. The 25-year-old, who is supported by experienced pair Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku, has been prolific over the past four seasons. Ahead of the semi-final, he urged his club-mates to harness the unity which led to his country triumphing in Qatar.
Inzaghi revealed his remit was to reach the last 16 of the Champions League when he was appointed in the summer of 2021. He satisfied that target last term before exceeding expectations this season. Whether they face Real or City in the final, their opponents will be overwhelming favourites and under greater pressure to deliver. Inter can use that situation to their advantage.
Relegation. European spots. So much still to play for.
Here’s how everything is lining up: pic.twitter.com/virjWwsHo9
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) May 15, 2023
Despite their impressive run in Europe, Inter have endured a mixed domestic campaign and sit 17 points adrift of runaway Serie A champions Napoli. Their current position of third place owes a lot to an ongoing five-match winning run. Inzaghi’s men have lost almost a third of their league games this term – 11 of 35 – but have benefitted from keeping draws – three – to a minimum.
Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti, who captained the club to glory 13 years ago, said he would prefer to avoid 14-time winners Real in the final as “this competition seems made for them”. His comments underlined Inter’s lack of recent big-game European experience. Since lifting the trophy in 2010, they have progressed beyond the group stage just four times – a record in stark contrast to those of Real and 2021 finalists City.
Lack of attacking width?
Inzaghi has developed a well-balanced side operating in a 3-5-2 system, bucking modern trends by playing with two strikers. The formation allows the 47-year-old to make the most of his four forwards – Martinez, Lukaku, Joaquin Correa and Dzeko. Yet the reliance on wing-backs alone to provide width in attacking areas can lead to play becoming concentrated in the centre of the pitch and make it difficult to break down opponents.
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