Inter Milan – The road to Madrid

Similarly to Bayern Munich, Jose Mourinho’s outfit got off to a slow Champions League start, before gaining momentum in the latter stages of the tournament.

Three draws in their opening three games saw Inter in a difficult position: a 0-0 draw with Barcelona, a 1-1 draw with FC Rubin and a 2-2 at home to Dynamo Kiev. In the return game at Kiev a dramatic 2-1 victory was secured with 2 goals in the last four minutes to see Inter’s Champions League season put back on track.

The following 2-0 loss at Barcelona made the final game against FC Rubin a must win. A goal in each half saw Inter into the round of 16 where they would face Mourinho’s old club Chelsea.

In the home leg the San Siro enjoyed a 2-1 victory which left the tie finely balanced as both teams entered Stamford Bridge knowing Chelsea would be taking an invaluable away goal with them. Chelsea, however, could not take advantage of their home tie as Inter’s resolute defence sought to protect their fragile lead. As Chelsea poured forward towards the end of the match, it left them vulnerable to the counter-attack, and sure enough Eto’o’s goal 12 minutes from time made it an impossible gap for Chelsea to bridge.

A quarter final tie against CSKA Moscow saw another set of strong defensive displays and two 1-0 victories which helped the Italians charge towards their group stage rivals Barcelona in the Semi Final.

Jose Mourinho’s comments to the press going into these ties certainly added another dimension to what was a great sporting occasion between two of Europe’s most accomplished sides; Inter, however, were the underdogs as the Catalans and reigning champions sought their second successive final and a chance to win the European crown at the home ground of their most bitter rivals, Real Madrid.

Inter came from 1-0 down to again seal victory and make full use of the first leg tie, winning the game 3-1 to put Mourinho into another edgy away fixture.

The away leg produced another firm defensive display as Inter kept all 11 men behind the ball and let Barcelona attack. Even the likes of Messi, however, found it difficult to pierce such a strong Italian back line. Some incredible saves from Julio Cesar kept the Champions at bay. A finely taken Gerrard Pique goal, which was more of a strikers finish than a centre-halfs, came too little too late in a thrilling climax to the tie which saw Inter win 3-2 on aggregate and go into their first European Final since 1972.

Written By Jack Parkinson

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