INTER Milan manager Simone Inzaghi and striker Lautaro Martinez are backing their side to produce an upset tonight and beat Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Italian side are seen as the underdogs against a Manchester City side that have won the Premier League title and the FA Cup, and are aiming to complete the treble, which only their city rivals Manchester United have ever achieved in England.
Inter are on a mission of their own to win two major trophies, having already claimed the Coppa Italia this season.
“We know the type of game we need to play. We know Manchester City are currently the best team in the world,” Inzaghi said during his preview of the big final.
“We know our path; we’re proud to be here, and we’ll do everything we can to be focused and keep the mistakes to a minimum.
“It’s the 57th game of our season, and the previous 56 enabled us to be here – the difficult moments made us grow. We deserved to lose some games, we deserved to win other matches. We put in a crazy effort, and that effort took us to Istanbul.”
Unlike Manchester City who are seeking their first-ever Champions League title, Inter Milan have won it thrice in the past, but their last triumph was in 2010 under Jose Mourinho.
Inzaghi, who joined the club in 2021 after five years at Lazio, is keen to create his own bit of history at Inter Milan.
“We have the opportunity to write ourselves into the history of this club. It’s difficult, but we’ll try our best,” added the 47-year-old younger brother of the legendary Italy striker Filippo Inzaghi.
“We know what this match means for everyone at Inter, from the club to the fans. The fans have always been with us. We have great responsibility.”
On the threats posed by the prolific Erling Haaland and his Manchester City colleagues, Inzaghi said: “We know how strong Haaland is. We’ve prepared something to keep him quiet, though the entirety of Inter will need to be good in limiting him and the whole team.
“They defend well, they attack well. We will try to play our football and the right game.”
Martinez, who is eyeing his own personal treble after winning the World Cup with Argentina in Qatar in December, is confident Inter Milan can add the Champions League title to their Coppa Italia trophy.
“This and the World Cup final are the two most important matches one can play. The shirt changes, but the feelings are the same,” the striker, who finished second in the Serie A top scorers chart behind Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, said during a press conference in Istanbul yesterday.
“We’re here thanks to our hard work – as a group, that’s what matters most to reach our goals. We’re just one step away.
“We know Manchester City are a tough rival, for their individual and collective qualities. We’ve prepared a lot for this game, now we must show it on the pitch. It’s a great season for me; I am very happy and, hopefully, we can end it in the best possible way.”
Martinez has no doubts that Inter Milan, who finished third in Serie A this season, have the ability to deny Manchester City of the biggest prize in European club football.
“We believe we can take the trophy back to Milan. It’s a dream; a big dream, a difficult one,” he added.
“It took a lot to get here, and now we’re a step away so we must give our all. Character and heart need to be there, as well as the will to win and lift the trophy.”