Our Inter fan reporter Francesco Sarchi was at the stadium to witness his side punch their ticket to the Champions League final
For the last 20 years, I lived with a ghost over my head. A huge, heavy ghost that made its presence felt. It has never been easy dealing with how the previous Champions League derbies against AC Milan had panned out, but today, I can happily say that that ghost is gone – hopefully forever. And if you have ghost problems, “Who ya gonna call?” Simone Inzaghi’s Inter, of course! Just as the Ghostbuster’s strength was in togetherness, Inzaghi has been able to create a unique spirit and form a mighty team, melting together different strengths and personalities to overcome everything we faced. And now, we are in the final of the Champions League.
Now let me activate my nerdy spirit for a second. Tuesday, 16 May 2023 – the San Siro was simply perfect. Before the match we all were confident – the 2-0 win in the first leg naturally helped – but obviously a bit concerned. We all know that AC Milan are never a side to roll over and give up. They had nothing to lose, and a wounded beast is always dangerous. To throw in one last cinematic quote, Denzel Washington famously said: “At your highest moment, be careful, that's when the devil comes for you”, and that was my greatest fear.
Luckily it was clear since the beginning of the game that wasn’t the case. AC Milan never looked dangerous in the second leg, and the menacing black and blue block we put up comfortably contained them. They didn’t score in the first half and in the second, I don’t think they even had a shot on André Onana’s goal. When Big Rom [Romelu Lukaku] entered the field, the magic began. It was the perfect substitution for our counterattacking strategy and we knew it. The stadium was absolutely bouncing, this time in our colours. Our team sniffed out the gaps in the AC Milan team like a shark and the rest is history.
Robin Gosens to Lukaku to Lautaro Martinez, back to Lukaku and then Lautaro again: Bang! The cherry on top of an exquisite cake added by our captain, and nobody deserved it more than him. He stayed true to us and committed his future, and it’s a real pleasure for us when a player who comes from halfway across the world falls so in love with our colours, just like us fans did as children – and yes, Javier Zanetti, I’m looking at you too.
But now comes the hard part. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are, in all likelihood, the best team in the world. They have everything: a gifted goalkeeper, a resolute defence, a brilliant midfield and the most in-form forward in the world. They will be itching to banish their own ghosts of losing in the 2021 final and I don’t think Pep will waste two chances in three years.
Yet, I also never ever thought I’d witness my beloved Inter even get through the group stage after being drawn with Bayern München and Barcelona. So why not dream big? Football is called the beautiful game for a reason: everybody can dream and those dreams can sometimes come true. And who doesn’t like an underdog story, am I right?