Manchester City has become a familiar name when discussing the Champions League final, thanks to its tremendous spending power. On the other hand, Inter Milan, the team set to face City in Istanbul this Saturday, is a surprise contender. Inter Milan has a rich history in European soccer, but it is entering the final as an underdog due to its third position in Serie A. The Italian league has lost its charm, and fans don’t expect it to produce world-class players as it did in the 1990s.
Inter Milan is a team of experienced players who have extended their careers with the club. Ranging from the 33-year-old Matteo Darmian, who had little impact during his stint with Manchester United, to the 37-year-old Edin Dzeko, who hadn’t played for Manchester City in over eight years. The team does have genuine star appeal with Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, who won the World Cup with Argentina by scoring the winning penalty in the final shootout against France last December.
Manchester City, backed by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, has won 16 trophies since waiting for its first major piece of silverware since 1976. Should it win against Inter Milan this weekend, it would become only the second English team to win the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup in one season. Inter is the only team that can stop City from emulating Manchester United’s treble from 1999. Manchester City stands strong on paper with a squad assembled through the wealth of its owners, but Inter Milan has made it to the final for the first time in 13 years, led by coach Simone Inzaghi’s guidance. Even though Inter was the last Italian team to win the trophy, their pulling power to lure world-class players has significantly reduced. Italian soccer teams have been overshadowed by the Premier League, which is increasingly popular worldwide and benefits from massive broadcast revenues.
Inter Milan’s owners, Retail giant Suning, incurred a loss of $285 million in the 2020-21 financial year, the highest ever for a top-flight Italian club. However, in May 2021, they secured a financing deal with American investment fund Oaktree Capital, which brought them a cash injection of $336 million. Whether Inter Milan wins or loses, their run to the final should be lucrative.
Real Madrid, last year’s winner, received $146.4 million in prize money, while runner-up Liverpool earned $131.4 million from UEFA’s Champions League prize fund of $2.2 billion. Inter Milan’s fans dream of a fourth European Cup, and Inzaghi’s success in the final would result in the biggest shock against a City team that seems unstoppable.