Simone Inzaghi looked ahead to Inter’s Champions League final against Manchester City, suggesting that football can be divided into ‘before and after Guardiola’.
The Nerazzurri will face off against the Premier League champions in Istanbul on June 10, the club’s most important match in over a decade. Inzaghi’s side booked their spot in European football’s most important match after securing an impressive 3-0 aggregate win over Milan in the semi-finals.
Manchester City, who thrashed Real Madrid 5-1 on aggregate in their semi-final outing, are widely tipped as favourites for the final, but Inter will be feeling confident of their chances as they prepare for the clash.
Speaking in a press conference via TMW, Inzaghi first discussed where the turning point came for Inter this season.
“It was a long journey, which started with the summer draws, where we were not lucky. Together with the staff and the team we talked about it right away, we said we could make a good path. Now we are in the final, it has been a great journey that started last year.”
He was asked if he’d taken a moment to realise what he’s done this season.
“I have to be honest, yesterday I thought about it more, we worked a lot on City. And then I add the night of the return leg with Milan, we knew what the derby brought, it was worth a season. Now I’m starting to think more about City.”
The Nerazzurri coach touched on his team’s chances in the Champions League final.
“I’m not very good at giving them (a percentage, ed.), we know we will meet the strongest team in the world, who have won the Premier League five times in the last six years.
“We will have to be careful to play a team game, we know we will be facing the best, with a fantastic squad and a coach who has marked an era. In modern football there is before and after Guardiola, it will be very important for us.”
Inzaghi was asked if this was the most important game of his career.
“Definitely the most important, but I think it also applies to my players. Onana and Dzeko have played semi-finals, but not finals.
“It will be an evening that repays us for all the efforts made during the year. It has been a journey full of pitfalls but, in the last three months, when I have had deeper rotations to play, I think Inter have done great things.”
He remembered beating Pep Guardiola as a player and revealed an interesting anecdote about the Spaniard.
“I remember those matches… There’s a curious anecdote, on my honeymoon after my wedding, in New York, Guardiola was there in a hotel having breakfast, he was also in New York in 2019.”
Inzaghi underlined which player could make the difference for Inter.
“Both teams will have their best players who will have to make the difference, Lautaro is one of those for Inter.”
He was asked if Manchester City’s chase of the Treble added extra pressure.
“They have won two titles, but we have also won two titles. We know what opponent we will face, but we also deserve to face Manchester City.”
The Inter coach touched on his admiration of Guardiola.
“There is so much admiration for Guardiola, for City, for what they have done over the years. I felt they would get to the final, the first leg was balanced.
“In last year’s semi-final there were the two goals in Real’s recovery, but this year I felt that the return match, I told my children and my wife, Manchester City would win it.”
The Italian spoke about the choice between Romelu Lukaku and Edin Dzeko.
“No. I haven’t decided there, I haven’t decided in midfield, I haven’t decided in defence, right now, as in the last two months, I have the choice.
“That’s the best thing a coach can have, in the last two months I’ve been able to alternate players or play others that I didn’t have in the first five months. There are still four training sessions left and the finishing in Istanbul, a coach can have a lot of ideas, but he often changes them.
“Not least against Torino, in the evening you think one thing, in the morning you see something that makes you change your mind.”
He touched on the atmosphere in Istanbul for the final.
“We will find a stadium with a lot of people, there will be City fans and Inter fans, but also Turkish fans who will be divided between Calhanoglu and Gundogan.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere, we’ll be there on Thursday, I’ve been told the pitch is in great condition.”
Finally, Inzaghi was asked if he felt more or less confident about Inter’s chances after the FA Cup final, which Manchester City won 2-1 against Manchester United.
“The more you see it the more you understand why they are getting these results, they’re a complete team, physical, technical, playing great football, doing great possession and great attacking.
“They have few weak points, they will face Inter, we know we will have to be good at taking away some of their possession and covering every inch of the pitch. They are really good at covering spaces.”