Inter de Mourinho, the last great Italian champion of Europe

Since José Mourinho's Inter won the 2010 Champions League against Bayern at the Santiago Bernabéu, no Italian team has won a European title again.

Inter-de-Mourinho-the-last-great-Italian-champion-of-Europe

Ten years. From May 22, 2010 in the Champions League at the Santiago Bernabéu to, who knows, if on August 21, 2020 in the Europa League at Stadion Köln. It is true that there is a big difference, that of the title. However, it can become a detail of the least important if one takes into account that, for a whole decade, Italian football has been in a dry spell in terms of European victories.

Since then, a thousand and one things have happened in the world of football. Among them, Sevilla, his rival in the final, won up to three Europa League (2014, 2015 and 2016). Or that the closest thing Calcio has been during these years have been Juventus' two runners-up in the Champions League (2015 and 2017) or the semi-finals of the Naples Europa League in 2015, where they fell against the now-defunct Dnipro.

A triplet for history

The truth is that, if Juventus has always been criticized for something, it is their inability to expand their monopoly from Serie A to the Champions League. Something that, on the other hand, did get a historic Inter. The one who was the last great champion outside the Italian borders throughout the old continent. José Mourinho arrived in 2008, and already in his first season as a 'Nerazzurri' he raised the 'Scudetto' and the 'Supercoppa' of Italy.

However, the best was yet to come. His second year at the helm began with the departure of a key player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 'capocannoniere' from last season with 25 goals. However, the sale of the Swede to Barcelona was no drama, since, in exchange, Inter received 69 million euros plus Samuel Eto'o. In addition, in that same market they moved like a fish in water to take over other players such as Wesley Sneijder, Diego Milito (fundamental in the Madrid final), Thiago Motta and Lúcio. All of them added to a powerful cast made up of Júlio César, Maicon, Chivu, Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso or Goran Pandev.

The result? A historic triplet, the first that an Italian team achieved (and has achieved). Of course, they repeated their plate, conquering a new 'Scudetto' (their 18th and last to date) and, this time, the 'Coppa', beating a very competitive Roma in both titles. In Serie A they prevailed by only two points, until an agonizing last day where Inter won 0-1 in their visit to Siena thanks to a goal from Diego Milito. While, ten days before, they defeated the 'wolf' 1-0 with another as much, of course, from 'The Little Prince'.

However, the icing on the cake was missing. Inter had not won a Champions League since 1965 (they also won the 1964 one). While the last time they lifted a European trophy was the 1998 UEFA Cup, when they beat Lazio 3-0 with goals from Zamorano, Zanetti and Ronaldo Nazario. For this reason, what better way than to release its 21st Century continental record than with another European Cup.

But to get to that final in Madrid, they had to, in addition to going through a long-suffering group stage, eliminate Chelsea, CSKA from Moscow and Barcelona. To the latter in a memorable round of the semifinals, both because of Mourinho's approach to, precisely, a Barça player and ex-Interista Ibrahimovic when Guardiola gave him a series of instructions. And, on the other hand, by the appearance of the famous Camp Nou sprinklers when Inter celebrated their move to the final.

Therefore, with two titles in the box, a third was missing to achieve the clover. In the final of the Santiago Bernabéu (paradoxically the future home of José Mourinho) the always feared Bayern Munich awaited, this time led by Louis van Gaal with figures such as Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Van Bommel, Robben or an emerging Müller.

“We formed a group that really wanted to win the Champions League”, those were the words of a Diego Milito after winning the Santiago Bernabéu. The Argentine, who was already decisive in the triumphs of the 'Scudetto' and the 'Coppa' with two goals, also emerged on that night in Madrid with a double. First, marking 1-0 in a play of just three passes: Júlio César sent long, Diego Milito lowered it head to Sneijder, who, in turn, returned the wall to the Argentine filtering a pass to the back of the defense for 'The Little Prince' to do the first. And then, in the second half, he ended the duel with a wonderful individual challenge, in which he broke van Buyten with an inward jog and, ultimately, spike the ball into the long post.

In this way, Inter put the finishing touch to a historic season and, at the same time, marked a before and after in Calcio. That title of the 'Nerazzurri' with the Champions League was the last European title that an Italian team achieved. Ten years, a whole decade for a country like Italy, that's a long time. So much so that it has been a football that has passed one of its worst times at the football level. And if we go further, to win the Europa League, it would be the first of the 21st century, since we have to go back to 1999 with the UEFA Cup in the mythical Parma. For this reason, Inter once again has in its hands to place Calcio in the center of the European scene and, at the same time, end a drought of continental titles that have been distributed between Spanish, English and German teams.



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