Former Inter and AC Milan striker Hernan Crespo believes the two clubs have an almost unmatched European pedigree, as they face off in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
In an interview with Qatari television broadcaster BeIN Sports, and as reported by Milan based Inter Milan news-site FCInter1908, the current Al-Duhail coach claimed that the history of the two Milanese clubs gave them a standing in European football, and that neither side would make it easy for the winner of Manchester City vs Real Madrid in the other semi-final.
“A Champions League semi-final is in itself an important result for any team,” the former Argentina international striker declared.
“It is one of the most competitive competitions in the world, but Milan and Inter know the Champions League like few other teams.
“Their history alone is enough to be anointed favorites and reach the final stages of the tournament, every year.
“I think the two matches between them will be of great interest, as both have shown that they are very complete teams. I don’t think there is a favourite to qualify.
“In Real Madrid vs Manchester City things are different. Both were considered favourites to win from the start.
“The only sure thing is that whichever of the two will qualify for the final will not have an easy task.
“Italian teams rest assured that they have the right level of preparation when it comes to the final of a European competition.”
Crespo spent a season at Inter in 2002-03, before joining Chelsea and being sent to Milan on loan in 2004-05, and featured in the Rossoneri’s infamous Champions League final defeat to Liverpool in Istanbul.
Leading 3-0, with a Crespo brace, Milan collapsed and allowed the Premier League club to draw level, before ultimately beating the Diavolo in a penalty shootout.
“We didn’t think the game was over. We were in good spirits, like in the dressing room of any team leading at half-time, but also concentrating.
“In the end we missed a huge chance to win a trophy that seemed like ours, but we weren’t playing alone.
“Obviously, the heartbreak was huge. At first you think you will never recover from such a thing.
“Like life though, football has its own way of directing your interest and attention to what comes next, and that’s how it should always be done.
“The memory of a great final, however, remains.”
The former Parma and Lazio striker has become a coach since retiring, with spells at Modena, Banfield, Defensa y Justicia, and Sao Paulo before taking the reigns at Qatari club Al-Duhail.
“Each of my experiences on the bench had something to offer me. I went through different countries and football schools, such as Argentina, Italy, Brazil and now Qatar,” the 47-year-old continued.
“As a person and a coach, I have enriched myself through these changes. Football horizons are broadening and I feel more ready to work with groups of players from different nationalities.
“My work at Al-Duhail continues. I enjoy it, especially as I feel that game after game I identify more and more with the way the team plays. I’m lucky to work with a group of players who are 100% committed to the work that is done every day.”
Watching Argentina Win World Cup In Qatar
Crespo was in attendance in Qatar as his native Argentina lifted the World Cup in December and he was thrilled to see the Albiceleste taste success in a country that he is so familiar with.
“What I experienced closely following Argentina’s march to the top of the world, at the 2022 World Cup, will remain in my memory for the rest of my life.
“Thanks to my presence in Qatar, I had the opportunity to experience everything up close and enjoy every game, the mood and the courage of the players.
“If you take into account the fact that I know and like many of the players, as well as the people on the coaching staff, the pleasure was even greater,” he added.
Crespo returned to Inter on a two-year loan in 2006, before signing for a third season, and scored 43 goals for the club across his two spells.