Inter Milan manager Simone Inzaghi said he never doubted that his team could reach the UEFA Champions League final as they completed a resounding 3-0 aggregate victory over rivals AC Milan on Tuesday.
A month ago, Inzaghi faced criticism and was under pressure after a lacklustre run of results, yet his side has turned it around and their 1-0 semi-final second leg win over Milan was their eighth in a row in all competitions.
“It was a dream at the start, but we always believed, we had an extraordinary run and to win the semi-final in a derby this way is immensely satisfying. We can only praise the lads,” Inzaghi told Sport Mediaset.
Inter are third in Serie A and will face Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia final on 24 May.
Their return to form has been built on a solid defence, keeping six clean sheets in their current winning streak and conceding only three goals.
“I had said a long while back we would put in a crazy effort without looking at one competition or the other, just trying to achieve our best,” he said.
Inzaghi basked in the glory of his team’s victory over Milan, a fourth successive win over their city rivals.
Milan had not suffered four defeats in a single campaign against Inter since the 1973-74 season.
“They showed strength, determination, aggression, concentration, they were wonderful,” he said. “We played four derbies since January and won all four, we know Milan are the Champions of Italy and have huge quality, but the players were excellent and deserve to enjoy this evening.”
Before their two semi-final victories, Inter beat Milan 3-0 to lift the Italian Supercup in January and grabbed a 1-0 win in Serie A the following month.
When asked whether he would prefer in the final to face Manchester City or Real Madrid, who play the second leg of their last-four tie on Wednesday, Inzaghi was keeping his cards close to his chest.
“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.”
Inzaghi said that Serie A was now the primary focus for his players, who face newly crowned champions Napoli on Sunday.
“I gave the players a day off tomorrow because we haven’t had it since 1 April. It was deserved, We’ll meet again from Thursday because we have to prepare for a league match in Naples.”
The Champions League final will be played at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on 10 June.