Inter Milan manager Simone Inzaghi acknowledged his team would be the underdogs in the Champions League final against either Manchester City or Real Madrid after his side completed a resounding 3-0 aggregate victory over AC Milan in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Lautaro Martinez’s 74th-minute goal at the San Siro saw Inter ease past their rivals following a 2-0 win in last week’s first leg.
When asked whether he would prefer in the final to face City or Madrid, who play the second leg of their last-four tie on Wednesday, Inzaghi was keeping his cards close to his chest.
“It’s normal that when you go to face City or Real you start underdogs, but football is always open: we met Real Madrid last year and we lost two games, but playing well. Manchester City needs no introduction: we will watch and whoever arrives will arrive.”
Man City and Madrid are tied 1-1 after their first leg in Spain last week.
“Whoever we end up with, we will be unlucky, because they are two really great teams with incredible quality,” Inzaghi said with a wry smile. “I will watch tomorrow’s match, like I watched the first leg. … Obviously we will follow it closely.”
A month ago, Inzaghi faced criticism and was under pressure after a lacklustre run of results, yet his side has turned it around and Tuesday’s win was their eighth in a row in all competitions.
“It was a dream at the start, but we always believed, we had an extraordinary run and to win the semi-final in a derby this way is immensely satisfying. We can only praise the lads,” Inzaghi told Sport Mediaset.
Their return to form has been built on a solid defence, keeping six clean sheets in their current winning streak and conceding only three goals.
“I had said a long while back we would put in a crazy effort without looking at one competition or the other, just trying to achieve our best,” he said.
Inzaghi basked in the glory of his team’s victory over Milan, a fourth successive win over their city rivals.
Milan had not suffered four defeats in a single campaign against Inter since the 1973-74 season.
“They showed strength, determination, aggression, concentration, they were wonderful,” he said. “We played four derbies since January and won all four, we know Milan are the Champions of Italy and have huge quality, but the players were excellent and deserve to enjoy this evening.”
Before their two semifinal victories, Inter beat Milan 3-0 to lift the Italian Supercup in January and grabbed a 1-0 win in Serie A the following month.
Inzaghi said that Serie A was now the primary focus for his players, who face newly crowned champions Napoli on Sunday.
“I gave the players a day off tomorrow because we haven’t had it since April 1. It was deserved. We’ll meet again from Thursday because we have to prepare for a league match in Naples.”
The Champions League final will be played at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on June 10.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.