Inzaghi eyeing repeat of Inter’s Champions League final run

Simone Inzaghi is eyeing a repeat of last season’s run to the Champions League final as Inter Milan prepare for a showdown with Atletico Madrid at the San Siro on Tuesday.

Inter were beaten by Manchester City in the final at Istanbul in June but have bounced back to have a superb season, leading Serie A by nine points and winning the Italian Super Cup.

The three-time European champions have won every match since the turn of the year and have a near full squad for what promises to be a fascinating tie with Atletico, who sit fourth in La Liga.

“We experienced some magical nights last season with the club and our fantastic fans. We’d like to do it again but we know that there are great teams out there who have the same ambition as we do,” Inzaghi told reporters.

“It’s going to be a very tough tie but we’re going into it with a great desire… We know it will be a great atmosphere and we’ll need to be at our best.”

Inter were a surprise finalist when they nearly bridged a huge resource gap with mega-rich City after an up-and-down season in which they lost 12 times in Serie A.

But their imperious displays this season suggest that another deep run would be much less of a shock.

“It’s the logical consequence of what the team is doing on the pitch,” said Inzaghi.

“But we need to remain concentrated as we have in the first six months of the season. We’ll see what happens from there.”

Inzaghi will be facing a former Lazio teammate in Atletico Diego Simeone, with whom he won the Italian double as a player 24 years ago.

Simeone is also fondly remembered by Inter fans as he won the 1998 UEFA Cup in a star-studded team which featured Brazilian icon Ronaldo.

– Old friends –

“It will be a pleasure to have Diego as my opponent. He was a brilliant teammate because we won with Lazio and after he went back to Atletico to finish his career in Spain we’ve always stayed in touch,” said Inzaghi.

“It was clear he was going to become a great coach.. He’s won a lot there and watching them this year is a pleasure because they play great football.”

Atletico have been boosted by the quick return of Alvaro Morata — the La Liga outfit’s top scorer with 19 goals in all competitions — from a knee ligament injury suffered just last week.

“There’s a chance that he could come on, let’s hope he scores,” said Koke to reporters.

Regardless of whether Morata starts with Antoine Griezmann or not, Simeone is under no illusions about the size of the task on his hands.

“Inter are one of the five best teams in Europe right now,” he said.

“They’ve been showing that in Serie A, and the way they played the Champions League last year, reaching a brilliant final with City, they’ve got more belief.”

Simeone returns to Milan where he says he spent “the best two years of my career” with Inter in what was a golden age for Italian football.

“I’ve got great memories of everyone I shared that experience with,” said Simeone.

“I got a lot of love from the fans and I gave everything I had. There’s always that thing inside of you when you go somewhere you have love for the people.”

AFP

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