After a scintillating game of pure Champions League football, Inter Milan has managed to secure a 3-3 draw against Benfica. And, with the aggregate score at 5-3, this means the Nerazzurri have progressed to the semifinals of the ever-prestigious Champions League after 13 years. The last time they did so, they ended up as winners of their third-ever Champions League/European Cup title. This time could be the same, albeit with a little twist.
Why the twist
This time, Inter will be meeting their local rivals AC Milan in an all-Italian Champions League tie. On Tuesday, Milan held Napoli to a 1-1 draw to book their place in the semifinals as well.
The last time this specific semifinal tie occurred was in 2003. Back then, Milan defeated Inter on away goals to make the final and eventually become champions. This Derby della Madonnina will be a chance for Inter to extract revenge on their eternal rivals. As Milan did; Inter can defeat their local adversaries and challenge for their fourth Champions League trophy.
What this means for Italian football
Now that it is confirmed that an Italian club will play in the final of the UEFA Champions League 2022-2023 edition, this is delightful news for Italian football. The Serie A used to be the best European league in the 1990s. The league was the breeding ground for future World Cup winners; the league stimulated the development of revolutionary tactics (e.g., Catenaccio); the league produced Italian managers of the highest caliber; and, the Serie A attracted the best players in the world. Additionally, Italian clubs used to be regular contenders for the Champions League.
Sadly, since Inter’s triumph in 2010, no Italian side has won the Champions League. Juventus has redeemed the league to an extent, being two-time runners-up in 2015 and 2017. Thus, when Inter or Milan reach the final, there will be a chance to spark a revolution in Serie A’s favor. This should result in more prize money, better sponsorship deals for Serie A clubs, and, ultimately, the league’s overall refinement. Serie A has a golden opportunity, this time, to start regaining its stronghold over European football.
Why an Italian triumph would be great for football
If an Italian team manages to win the Champions League this season, it will not only be wonderful for Serie A; it would be huge for football. People watch football for the unpredictability, for the effort teams put in to win. Watching underdogs win is just what viewers pay for. A prime example is Morocco’s road to the 2022 FIFA World Cup semifinals. The whole world was in awe of this unique African side, and everyone adored this iconic run. Furthermore, it gave hope to other burgeoning teams in the face of established “giants” of the game.
Thus, a champion from outside of Spain, England, or Germany will be a good refreshment for fans. Football fans like to see surprises; an Italian Champions League victory after 13 years would be no less than the biggest possible surprise. Moreover, it will motivate other aspirational underdog teams (e.g., Benfica) to keep on pushing for the top. This will subsequently create even more competition, ameliorating the prospective contests of the future.
The ultimate winner: football
Hence, Inter vs Milan in the Champions League semifinals is a momentous match at a crucial time. It is surely different from when these two giants met in the Champions League the last time, and the tie is set to be an entertaining one. Whoever wins, be it Inter or Milan, the winner needs to go on and win the trophy. It will be a victory for football to see a new winner; a club with a glorious past fighting back to reclaim the throne.