Inter Milan begin their latest bid for Champions League glory with Simone Inzaghi looking to replicate last season’s glorious run.
Inter made it all the way to the final in July only to come up short in a narrow 1-0 defeat against the new champions, and English treble winners, Manchester City in Istanbul.
They face Real Sociedad in the Group D opener on Wednesday looking to make a strong start to their continental campaign.
“It was a great journey,” Inzaghi told reporters. “This year it starts again against a strong team. We will play it like last year, knowing that it will be difficult to repeat what we did, but that we want to try again.”
Inter travel to Spain buoyant on the back of a thumping 5-1 win over AC Milan in the first derby of the season.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored twice with Marcus Thuram, Hakan Calhanoglu and Davide Frattesi also on target at San Siro.
However, Turkey midfielder Calhanoglu will not be available to Inzaghi due to a thigh strain.
Striker Lautaro Martinez, who is forming a promising partnership with Thuram, said: “We are a new team, with some new players. I am happy with the work we are doing, but this is a long journey, we are still at the beginning, so I can’t say for sure.
“But we will work as we have always done with the coach and his staff.”
La Real are back among Europe’s elite for the first time in 10 years after finishing fourth in LaLiga last season.
Coach Imanol Alguacil believes his side can spring an early surprise.
He said: “We are playing at home, against an opponent who were one step away from winning this competition last season.
“We will play with respect and humility, but this is the Champions League, and we have to get on the pitch, give it our all and try to win.”
— Inter (@Inter) September 19, 2023
Winger Mikel Oyarzabal wants the crowd at the Reale Arena to play its part.
“We have shown in recent years that we can give anyone a game,” he said.
“This team always competes and gives its all, and I don’t think tomorrow will be any different.
“We have to play with the hunger and the spirit that our stadium transmits to us, and then we have to maintain the desire to win.”