Lautaro Martinez played a major role in Inter Milan’s surprise advance to the Champions League final. The Argentine striker brings back memories of a successful predecessor in the Nerazzurri jersey.
In the run-up to the Champions League final, UEFA also broadcast a promotional video featuring Inter striker Lautaro Martinez. Martinez was asked which of his goals he last looked at again, he didn’t have to think long: The winning goal in the semi-final second leg in the “Euroderby” against AC Milan. “Not just because it was so beautiful“Said Martinez, who then let himself be celebrated standing on the advertising board in front of the Curva Nord in the San Siro. “It was the most important goal of my career.“
The Argentine’s goal finally decided the semifinals against the city rivals and brought the Nerazzurri into the final of the Champions League on Saturday (June 10th, 2023) against Manchester City.
First World Cup final, now Champions League final
Martinez gets the chance to win his second major title in a season. He also became world champion, you almost forgot about it. At the Winter World Cup in Qatar, others were in focus, above all, of course, Lionel Messi, who ended up with the long-awaited World Cup trophy in his hands, as an advertising figure for the Emir.
Lionel Messi receives a robe from Emir Tamin bin Hamad al Thani
In addition to Messi, players such as midfield clearer Enzo Fernandez and Julian Alvarez played in the Argentines. The City striker had also ousted Martinez, who was actually seeded, from the starting XI during the tournament. In the quarter-final thriller against the Netherlands, on the other hand, it was Martinez who sunk the decisive penalty on penalties.
Lautaro Martinez – undisputed at Inter
At Inter, Martinez has been the undisputed lead throughout. He captained the Nerazzuri to the final for the Henkelpott, the most valuable trophy in club football. Hardly anyone expected that before the season, especially since Inter had to prevail in a group with FC Bayern and FC Barcelona in the preliminary round. But the Milanese have managed to play to their strengths, especially in the premier class: a balanced, deep squad. And above all, a well-adjusted, uncompromising defence, with an Italian back three made up of national players Francesco Acerbi, Alessandro Bastoni and Matteo Darmian.
The two semi-final victories in the “Euroderby” against Milan were also a defensive masterpiece. Inter kept a clean sheet in both duels. In the second leg, the Rossoneri had just one shot on target before Martinez’s goal put the lid on in the second leg.
Inter brings back memories of triple season 2010
A pattern reminiscent of the Champions League triumph of the Internazionale in 2010: Led by chief cynic Jose Mourinho, whose destroyer football also stopped FC Barcelona under Pep Guardiola, Inter’s opponents again on Saturday, this time with City. 13 years ago, Diego Milito, an Argentinian ignored by world clubs, scored the decisive goals at Inter, including in the final against Bayern Munich.
Martinez with decisive goals – like Diego Milito once did
Milito’s role could now be taken by Martinez, the two even played together for a while at Racing Club in Argentina. Making his Premier League debut at 18 with Racing, Martinez came on for Milito, who was then phasing out his career with his hometown club. In 2018, Martinez then moved on to Europe to Inter, like Milito. And just like Milito in Inter’s treble year, his successor Martinez has scored this season, especially when it mattered. Like last time in the cup final against Fiorentina, which Inter’s center forward decided with a brace on his own. “Argentine tango,” wrote the Gazetta dello Sport, bowing to the Bahia Blanca striker.
In the Champions League, Martinez had already scored against Benfica in the quarter-finals before his emotional winning goal against Milan. And also in the important 3-3 group stage draw against Barca at the Camp Nou, which Inter kept ahead of the Catalans in the final.
Inter vs. Manchester City in the role of the party crasher
In the final, the Milanese, another parallel to the triumph in 2010, are outsiders this time too. Against a frighteningly well-adjusted, offensively unstoppable team from Manchester, who have already won the double in England and are now aiming for the long-awaited premier title.
But if there’s one side that’s most likely to take on the role of party-crasher, then it’s probably Inter: a determined team with veterans like Edin Dzeko, Marcelo Brozovic or the 35-year-old defender Acerbi. And a nerve-racking enforcer like Martinez, who only needs a few chances.
Inzaghi: Martinez candidate for Ballon d’Or
Inter coach Simone Inzaghi has repeatedly named the 25-year-old Martinez as a candidate for the Ballon d’Or, the future world footballer. Saturday’s final, on the biggest stage in European football, could show what Inzaghi’s prediction is all about.