Inter, Fiorentina meet in Italian Cup final with eyes on European prizes


Both Inter Milan and Fiorentina head into Wednesday’s Italian Cup final with their eyes on even bigger prizes this season.

Inter plays Manchester City in the Champions League final on June 10, three days after Fiorentina takes on another Premier League side in West Ham in the Europa Conference League final.

First, they’ll have to focus on the match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Inter is looking to defend the Italian Cup title and maintain its bid for a trio of trophies this season under coach Simone Inzaghi, who has become known as something of a cup specialist.

Inzaghi has won six of seven previous finals as a coach. He led Lazio to the Italian Cup in 2019 as well as two Italian Super Cup trophies.

He’s also won two Italian Super Cup titles with Inter — including beating city rival AC Milan this season – as well as last year’s Italian Cup.

Despite Inzaghi’s cup success, the 47-year-old has constantly been under pressure this season and had to face questions about his future, with the team perceived to have underperformed in the league.

However, Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta recently said that Inzaghi would “100%” still be the Nerazzurri coach next season.

“It’s great that the club has faith in me,” Inzaghi said. “Four games remain, two of which are finals.

“We’re on a path of growth; our fifth final in two years is coming up, and these finals are very helpful in terms of helping the team grow even more.”

Inter lost 3-1 at Serie A champion Napoli on Sunday to end a run of eight straight wins in all competitions. But it can nevertheless ensure a top-four finish and a spot in next season’s Champions League with a draw against Atalanta at the weekend.

Inter’s winning run was aided by Romelu Lukaku’s return to form. After a season beset by injuries, Lukaku is back to something akin to his best and has netted four goals in his past three league matches.

“Lukaku is feeling really good, and this also applies to all of his teammates,” Inzaghi said. “In the last two months, he’s returned to being the Romelu that we all know. I’m using him and all our other strikers, who are doing just as well.

“Today was our 15th game in 50 days. I need the whole squad because the fixture list is, quite frankly, incredible, but I’ve had excellent responses from all the lads.”

Lukaku’s strike partner, Lautaro Martínez, is the only player to have appeared in all 53 of Inter’s matches this season. The Argentine World Cup winner has netted 25 goals for the Nerazzurri this campaign, equalling the personal record he set last year.

Fiorentina will be especially wary of Martínez as he scored twice against them back in October, in a 4-3 victory for Inter. Fiorentina won 1-0 at San Siro at the start of last month.

While Inter has become used to contesting finals in recent years, Fiorentina has had to wait almost a decade — and now two have come along at once.

The Tuscan team last contested a final when it lost to Napoli in the 2014 Italian Cup.

With little to play for in the league, however, Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Italiano had the luxury of completely revamping his team or Sunday’s draw at Torino and giving players some much-needed rest after its extra-time victory over Basel midweek.

“We are tired, mental tiredness is also part of tiredness, it’s not just hard on the legs but on everything else,” Italiano said. “We let players rest that hadn’t recovered at all from the 130 minutes because, as I have heard said, on Wednesday we’re playing the match of our lives.

“We tried to spare players who weren’t even able to get on the train. Now we have three days to prepare this final, and I am convinced we will recover all our energy to face a team that is one of the strongest in Italy and we have to try to put them in difficulty.”

The last of Fiorentina’s six Italian Cup titles came in 2001. Eight-time champion Inter has won five since then.

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