Inter Milan became the first team to book a place in the final of the UEFA Champions League this season. They faced local rivals AC Milan in the semifinal of the prestigious event, and the grand derby ended 3-0 in their favour on aggregate.
They will face the winner of Real Madrid and Manchester City in the final and would appear to be the underdogs irrespective. Yet, Inter Milan vice-president Javier Zanetti had a clear preference and did not think twice before naming Manchester City as the team he would like the Nerazzurri to face in the final.
“I’d like to avoid Real Madrid because this competition seems made for them,” he said as revealed by Daily Mail.
He also went on to reflect on how big it was for his group of players to make it this far in the competition, saying,
“However, the most important thing is to have arrived here. It was a difficult path, it’s not easy to play a derby in the semi-finals. I did and I was defeated in 2003.”
The battle between Real Madrid and Pep Guardiola’s side currently sits tied on a 1-1 scoreline. The fixture tonight is expected to bring nothing short of fireworks as both sides look to edge past the other to face Inter in the final.
Inter Milan manager Simone Inzaghi was asked about his thoughts on the second semifinal and who he thought would progress. His reply, however, was more conservative as he refused to take sides, saying (h/t ESPN):
“It’s normal that when you go to face City or Real you start underdogs, but football is always open: we met Real Madrid last year and we lost two games, but playing well. Manchester City needs no introduction: we will watch and whoever arrives will arrive.
“Whoever we end up with, we will be unlucky, because they are two really great teams with incredible quality.”
The Champions League final will be played in June at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul. While the semifinal tie is equally balanced at the moment, one knows that Real Madrid could have a small edge, at least from a psychological standpoint.
Real Madrid maintain full confidence in Turkish starlet despite injury woes
Arda Guler’s Real Madrid stint has not gotten off to the start he would have hoped to have given the expectation that preceded the transfer.
Having joined in the summer after Real Madrid outbid their competition to win him over from Fenerbahce for a 20-million-euro fee, buzz was high as the winger was expected to slot into the team quite seamlessly, albeit on a rotational basis.
Unfortunately for the 18-year-old, he has been constantly marred by injuries since completing the move.
Reports have stated that after Guler picked up his third injury since his move, Real Madrid have been concerned and want to take things slow with the player to ensure he is fit as soon as possible after an injury to his quadriceps this time.
The Turk is yet to make his competitive debut for the club, and Real Madrid even sacked their medical chief in November, in light of their injury crises since the beginning of the season.
No loan deal for Guler
However, according to Fabrizio Romano in a recent YouTube video, he states that Madrid maintain full trust and patience in the youngster.
Despite his bad luck with injuries, the latest of which he is scheduled to return from after Christmas, the Galacticos have no intention of loaning out Guler to Turkish clubs despite lots of speculation of them doing so of late.
Romano states that Madrid remain firm on not shaking things up too much with the squad, and they want to keep their roster stable, including Arda Guler.
They want to extend their full support and protection to the player as he aims to return to full fitness and finally make his bow for Madrid either by the end of this month or in 2024.