Inter Milan aiming for double glory

Inter has won two European Cups, the last in 1965. In that time, city rivals AC Milan has won it six times

Inter Milan goes into the new season as favourite for the Serie A title, but the players and coach Jose Mourinho know that expectations are far higher than a fifth consecutive championship.

The Champions League is the overwhelming aim of the club and its president Massimo Moratti.

Mourinho was brought in at the start of the previous season to bring his Champions League winning knowledge to bear on the club, but the side struggled through the group stages before tamely falling to Manchester United in the last 16.

Four major new faces were brought in over the summer. Genoa pair Diego Milito and Thiago Motta arrived soon after the end of the season and Brazil captain Lucio was a surprise purchase from Bayern Munich before Samuel Eto’o arrived as part of the deal that took Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona.

“Compared to last season we are a new team with new men and a new style of play,” captain Javier Zanetti said.

Despite Mourinho missing out on Deco and Ricardo Carvalho, who were part of his FC Porto side that won the 2004 Champions League and who he later took to Chelsea, the Portuguese coach was pleased with the purchases.

“The team has started to come together as I wanted,” Mourinho said after signing Eto’o. “The defence is settled and we have an excellent group of strikers with Samuel, Diego Milito, Mario Balotelli and even David Suazo with his speed.

“I now have great trust in this squad.”

There was initial disappointment that Ibrahimovic was sold, but with euro50 million (US$70 million) coming into the club coffers, along with Eto’o, many proclaimed it the deal of the summer.

The Cameroon striker is a player who delivers on the big occasions. He was key to Barcelona winning the Champions League in 2006 and 2009, scoring in both finals, and has won Olympic gold at the 2000 Games and two African Nations Cups with his country.

“I know that Inter is desperate to win the Champions League, but you can’t only think about that cup,” Eto’o said. “Because if you are too focused on the Champions League, you forget about the other competitions and then you run the risk of being knocked out of European competition.

“You need to take it match by match and treat them all as a final.”

With the 28-year-old forward likely to line-up alongside Milito, who hit 24 goals to help Genoa reach the Europa League playoffs, there is hope that the side will no longer be so reliant on one player, as it was when the Swede was leading the attack.

Whilst Ibrahimovic was the undoubted star of the side, leading the league’s scoring last year with 25 goals, all too often Inter’s game plan revolved around giving him the ball and expecting him to weave his magic.

It may have worked domestically, but when the team met tougher resistance in the form of Manchester United the plan fell apart. The hope is that the new signings will give Inter a more flexible, intelligent style of play that will allow them to make real progress in Europe.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 5:53:57 AM |

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