Who are Inter's key men Man City must watch?

By Nicky Bandini (@nickybandini) 9 Jun 2023
Inter Milan, Coppa Italia final

Nicky Bandini looks at four men standing in the way of English side's Treble hopes

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Italian football expert Nicky Bandini looks at four key people at Internazionale Milano who stand between Manchester City and their dreams of an historic Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League treble.  

The manager: Simone Inzaghi 

Brother to the former AC Milan striker, Pippo, Simone was often overshadowed by his older sibling during their playing days despite winning a league title of his own, and several cups, at Lazio.

Inzaghi has been the more successful manager, steering his former club Lazio to a Coppa Italia win, two Supercoppa Italiana triumphs, and a first UEFA Champions League qualification in more than a decade before moving to Inter in 2021.

He arrived at a time of budget cuts, with Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi sold that first summer, yet has won every edition of both domestic cups since he arrived. 

Simone Inzaghi,Hakan Calhanoglu
Hakan Calhanoglu (left) and Simone Inzaghi (right)
Andre Onana (GKP) 

Five clean sheets in six knockout matches could not have happened without some crucial interventions from the man between the posts.

Signed on a free transfer after his contract expired at Ajax, Onana began this season as the back-up to Samir Handanovic, but won the starting role by mid-October and has not looked back since.  

He made a brilliant double-save during the first leg of their last-16 tie with Porto and followed that up with a point-blank stop to preserve their lead in stoppage time of the second leg.

Andre Onana
Andre Onana celebrates as his brilliant saves help Inter reach the UEFA Champions League final

See: How losing to Liverpool helped Inter's progression

Nicolo Barella (MID) 

It was Barella who set Inter on track for their UEFA Champions League quarter-final win over Benfica, scoring the first goal in both legs, although he is as adept at creating opportunities as finishing them.

His 12 assists last season were the joint-most of any midfielder in Europe’s top five leagues, and although that number dropped to a more modest six in this campaign, it is his versatility that marks him apart.  

As often found winning possession on the edge of his own box as he is driving into the opposition’s, Barella's energy and hunger provide an example that team-mates tend to follow.

Nicolo Barella, inter Milan
Nicolo Barella has his eye on the prize as Inter Milan look to win the UEFA Champions League trophy
Lautaro Martinez (FWD) 

A 2022 FIFA World Cup winner with Argentina in December, Martinez failed to score at the tournament and was criticised for his performances, but subsequently revealed he had been playing through “unbearable” ankle pain.  

He has endured dry spells in Serie A, too, and the occasional loss of confidence might be his greatest weakness.  

When he backs himself, Martinez often looks unplayable. An agile, explosive presence with deceptive power and aerial ability, he has become more involved in Inter’s build-up play this season and ends it in prolific form, with 11 goals and four assists in his last 13 appearances.

Lautaro Martinez, Fikayo Tomori
Lautaro Martinez sprints between AC Milan's Theo Hernandez (left) and Fikayo Tomori (right) in Inter's semi-final win

Nicky Bandini (@nickybandini) is a sports writer and broadcaster who specialises in European football.

Also in this series

Part 1: Guardiola: History won't define this year's final
Part 2: Why Guardiola must keep it simple against Inter
Part 3: How losing to Liverpool helped Inter's progression
Part 5: Premier League clubs in Champions League finals

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