Former Inter forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes Inter will start as underdogs in the Champions League final against Manchester City, but they can use that to their advantage. The German footballing legend was speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport about the Nerazzurri’s season to date, highlighting the excellent work of Simone Inzaghi and Beppe Marotta, who ‘built a Champions League finalist team with four pennies’:
“Manchester City undoubtedly starts as the favorite, but this is an advantage for Inter, who should definitely not feel beaten. Inter can hurt, and in one game they can do it: I don’t even say miracle, but just win. they are capable of doing it.”
How did the Inter fans in Munich celebrate their entry into the final?
“Well, very well. Besides the qualification, there was the joy of having succeeded in the derby. Already in my time there was a lot of tension about these matches, now they managed to win deservedly, playing nicely: Inter clearly deserved to go through. And I felt a special satisfaction because Inter … is Inter, my team like Bayern. I also sent a message to my friend Beppe Marotta.”
“He, in my opinion, has been a genius this year, he had to build a team that is now a Champions League finalist with four pennies, it’s not like he spent a boatload of money or had it at his disposal. He is an outstanding general manager, maybe today they understood that in Turin as well. When I was managing Bayern and he was managing Juventus, we did a lot of business: he is very serious and intelligent, but he knows how to evaluate the market by virtue of fair play, he is not one who is too smart, in the sense that we know….”
But isn’t the excitement gone after seeing the monster Manchester City on Wednesday night?
“No, I am glad Pep Guardiola went to the final because he is a friend, he has been trying to win this trophy for 12 years. Clearly City, even after what we saw against Real Madrid, starts in front. But this, I repeat, for me is an advantage in favor of Inter.”
In the group stage, no one thought Inter would qualify. Instead, Inzaghi went ahead
“Even when it was in the group stage, no one thought Inter would qualify. I had said they would go through together with Bayern, but I said it out of affection. Everyone was betting on Bayern and Barcelona. But Inzaghi went ahead. The team is not to be underestimated, in all departments it is stable. The defence is concrete, in midfield they run and work, they are all willing to sacrifice. In attack Lautaro is a world cup winning center forward, Dzeko always fresh and Lukaku is improving from game to game. Inter is a team that can hurt even City.”
So how do you prepare for a final in which everyone does not see you as a favorite?
“It would be enough to repeat the two games with Milan. That would be the good tactic. Inter were there, they closed well. Even though City has a formidable attack with Haaland, Grealish, Foden and all the others, Inter can take away the pleasure of playing the ball: that would be the right strategy. Because Pep’s teams follow him: he is a coach who likes beautiful football, if you take that away from him, you can also succeed in the feat by feel.”
What will Guardiola prepare this time?
“I feel like he has changed this year in terms of surprises. With Haaland he had a stable point as a center forward that he didn’t have before. He has a player of strength in the area, it’s no coincidence that he set a record for goals in the Premier League, however, he also showed with Real Madrid, they controlled him quite well.”
The public Guardiola everyone knows: you brought him to Bayern and also experienced working with him behind the scenes, what more does he have?
“Every Friday I would watch from the field the final preparation for our league game on Saturday. He is a phenomenon on all the details, to prepare any kind of game. The man is just as good, we have become friends, when he comes by Munich we go out to dinner even with the wives, but we talk for three hours only about football, because he loves football. He is not at City because he earns a huge amount of money, but precisely because he loves football. We only talk in Italian, he always speaks well of Italy, because of his experience in your country.”
Simone Inzaghi, who started the Champions League by losing to Bayern, how did he build his way to the final instead?
“After the first round match I thought it would be very complicated for Inter to qualify. But the turning point was the Barcelona game. They got unblocked, they played very well. From there on they did well, the great season that took them all the way to Istanbul was born. In the league they could do better, of course, but today at least it looks like they will be able to qualify for the next Champions League. If they succeed, they will be even more comfortable in the final.”
As a member of the UEFA executive, will you go to Istanbul?
“Yes, I will try to go.”
Can UEFA executives cheer?
“It is well known that I played for Inter: the three years I spent in Italy, in Milan, are among the best of my life, so I certainly don’t hide my emotions.”