May 22, 2010: When an aging Inter Milan completed a treble for the ages

On this day, under the management of Jose Mourinho, Inter Milan became the first - and so far only - Italian side to complete the treble.

Inter Milan celebrate winning the 2010 Champions League. (Image: UEFA)

May 22, 2010 will always be a historic day for Inter Milan fans. This was the day when, under the management of Jose Mourinho, they became the first – and so far only – Italian side to complete the treble. Coming into the Champions League final, Inter had already wrapped up the Serie A and won the Coppa Italia. Managed by a Jose Mourinho still at the peak of his powers, the Nerazzuri dominated both Italy and Europe. Unbeknownst to their fans, this would be the last cycle of dominance the side would experience for a while. Indeed, they had to wait 11 years to even lift the Scudetto again.

Yet nothing takes away from the achievement from that particular Inter side. Exactly 11 years later, we look back on the day they made history.

The background

Both teams were angling to become the first team from their country to win the continental treble. Bayern had wrapped up the DFB Pokal and Bundesliga before the Champions League final.

There was also the added caveat of Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho facing off. Mourinho was Van Gaal’s assistant at Barcelona and the two shared a mentor-mentee relationship.

Bayern, as was expected under Van Gaal, played a progressive and possession-based style. Mourinho’s Inter, however, were masters of the counter-attack. A fascinating battle awaited.

The match

Interestingly, the starting XI of Inter Milan featured no Italian players. Their bench, however, had three Italians – Francesco Toldo, Marco Materazzi and Mario Balotelli.

By contrast, Bayern’s starting XI featured five German internationals and the bench had a further five German nationals.

The match began and Inter looked to defend deep. As a result, Bayern had more possession but didn’t create too many chances. Predictably, Inter’s first goal came from a counter-attack.

Goalkeeper Julio Cesar hoofed the ball long and found Diego Milito, who flicked the ball onto Wesley Sneijder. The Dutchman waited for the Argentine striker to run and played him in. Milito made no mistake with the finish.

Inter entered the break a goal up and the match continued in similar vein. The 70th minute saw the game’s decisive goal being scored – again by Milito.

He was fed the ball by Samuel Eto’o but still had a lot to do. He stepped over the ball, did a feint and beat defender Daniel van Buyten. Having made the space, he made no mistake with the finish.

Milito was eventually substituted in the 90th minute. The significance of the substitution was two-fold. It allowed Inter’s fans to applaud off the man whose goals secured them the title.

But it also gave the 36-year-old Marco Materazzi a chance to play in a Champions League final. The Inter legend was at the fag-end of his career and this was Mourinho’s way of giving him one final hurrah.

The aftermath

Rather than being the start of an era of domination, it was the end of a cycle for Inter. The squad consisted largely of veterans eyeing one more shot at the ultimate glory – an aim they achieved under Mourinho.

They did win the Coppa Italia in 2010-11 as well as the FIFA Club World Cup in the same season. But Inter – much like local rivals AC Milan – slowly slid into a stage of decline.

They did, however, break their 11-year wait for domestic glory this year. Under Antonio Conte – a man who is synonymous with Inter’s rivals Juventus as both player and manager – Inter scaled the top of the mountain once again.

Whether this leads to more sustained dominance, however, remains to be seen.




WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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