Can an Italian team win the Champions League this year? | The Triangle

Can an Italian team win the Champions League this year?

Photo by: Oscar Bodini | Flickr

It has been a while since an Italian team celebrated the win of the Champions League by holding up the desired handle pot in the air. After 13 years without an Italian Champions League winner, the chances are higher than ever this season. 

In 2010, Inter Milan was the last Italian team to triumph in the Champions League with the help of two Diego Milito goals in the final against Bayern Munich. Inter’s lineup from the 2010 final was and still is very impressive. Famous soccer legends like Wesley Sneiyder, Julio Cesar, Maicon and Samuel Eto’o wore the blue and black striped Inter jersey that night in Madrid.

Since over a decade ago, a lot has changed. Italy’s soccer teams have been through a lot and disappointed time after time in the Champions and in the Europa League. The glorious days of the once so successful rivals AC and Inter Milan seemed to be over. In the last years they often struggled to qualify for the Champions League and sometimes didn’t even play internationally at all. Other big names like Juventus Turin or SSC Napoli disappointed in the latest seasons as well with the exception of a Juventus Turin Champions League final participation in 2017 against Real Madrid which resulted in a 1-3 loss. 

The last Champions League decade instead was dominated by the successful Spanish teams FC Barcelona and Real Madrid who combined won 7 out of 12 Champions League trophies. From 2016 to 2018, Real even won three titles in a row — A historical record which has never been achieved before. 

This year could be the perfect time for an Italian team to rise to the top of Europe’s biggest soccer stage again. Two out of the last four remaining teams in this Champions League season are from Italy and they even come from the same city. With AC and Inter Milan facing each other in the 22-23 semifinal, the Champions League hosts one of the greatest Derby’s Europe has to offer. 

Even though both teams didn’t play an incredibly great season in Italy’s Serie A with AC Milan currently being ranked fourth and Inter fifth with more than 20 points behind first SSC Napoli, they managed to play extremely effectively in this year’s Champions League season. 

The once feared and successful Italian playing style returned and teams from England, Germany and Portugal are left without a comeback so far. The Italian teams SSC Napoli, AC and Inter Milan that competed in the Champions League’s playoffs impressively showed how to do it: going for the goal and then defending extremely passionately for the rest of the game. None of the three teams conceded a goal in the round of sixteen and AC and Inter Milan combined only conceded four goals out of their eight playoff games.

In the quarterfinal underdog AC Milan surprisingly won the Italian matchup against this year’s top title favorite Napoli, currently leading the Serie A with an impressive 75 points. Once again Milan’s key to success was the hard defensive work the whole line-up put in over both matches which resulted in a 1-0 home win and a 1-1 draw at Napoli which was enough for Milan to advance to the semifinal.

City rival Inter Milan’s Champions League journey was similar to the Red and Blacks. In each playoff round they forced a win and a draw against their opponents FC Porto (round 16) and Benfica Lisbon (quarterfinal) and played extremely effectively in the last third of the field. 

Whatever the Derby d’Italia will bring, it is sure that an Italian team will make it to this year’s Champions League final in Istanbul. The winner of the derby will face either Real Madrid or Manchester City. The first leg of the Milan Derby will start on May 9th with a home opener for AC Milan in the famous San Siro stadium. It’s safe to say that the atmosphere is going to be heated.