Back in May, Real Madrid became the first side to win the Champions League in its current format three times in a row. However, there are rumblings in Catalonia that 2010 should have marked the centrepiece of another Champions League hat-trick, for none other than Real’s sworn enemies Barcelona.
The Catalan club had it all, winning the Champions League in 2009 and 2011. However, 2010 was the year of the Nerazzuri, and to this day, Inter Milan remain the only Italian club to complete a treble. Inspired by Jose Mourinho, it seemed as though the Milanese giants could not be stopped. The club’s Serie A win of 2010 was their fifth in a row, but the years since have been unkind to Inter.
Happier times for the Nerazzuri.
A golden generation goes…
In 2011, Inter came 2nd in the league, but the club have failed to finish any higher than fourth since. Inevitably, a young crop of players, such as Davide Santon (18), Ricardo Quaresma (25), Goran Pandev (24), Marko Arnautovic (20) and Mario Balotelli (18) all departed in due course.
That none of these talents have managed to win the Champions League again is mildly tragic, but there is no need for the blue half of Milan to despair just yet.
Within the present-day squad are a number of players that have enjoyed strong performances in the 2018 World Cup, which can only serve to shorten the odds against Inter in the outright Serie A betting markets, where they’re currently 10/1 to claim the title. Indeed, July 2018 saw Matias Vecino (Uruguay) and Croatian duo Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic become quarterfinalists.
The latter two both played a total of 171 minutes in Croatia’s 3-0 thumping of Argentina; perhaps Croatia’s finest performance since demolishing Germany by the same scoreline at France ’98. Regardless of the World Cup’s outcome, all four will approach the new Serie A season in optimal form.
Inter downfall – lessons learnt?
Not many players in the class of 2010 went onto achieve great things after leaving the club; Júlio César was one of the best goalkeepers in the world during the 2009/10 campaign. Yet, just two years later, he would find himself in a QPR side that only narrowly evaded relegation.
A 25 year-old Wesley Sneijder was also expected to more achieve undisturbed greatness. Sneijder’s move to Galatasaray in 2013 remains perplexing. Though UEFA Cup winners in 2000, the Turkish titans were a spent force in Europe by the mid-2010s, but Sneijder’s reasons are clearly his own.
Opinions as to why Inter Milan’s golden squad folded remain split. However, there appeared to be a (perhaps understandable) demand for perfection in the post-Mourinho era, giving subsequent managers relatively little time to settle and connect with the dressing room.
With Inter Milan now on the cusp of making a significant restoration to what once was, and could have been, the great campaign of 2009/10 – and the aftermath – is as much lesson as it is triumph.