Less than a calendar year after their hearts were shattered on the pitch of Atatürk Olympic Stadium at the hands of a treble-winning Manchester City side, Inter Milan fell short once again in their attempt to secure their first Champions League trophy in 14 years.

While their penalty shootout loss to Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 certainly stung, Inter are still having an incredible season domestically, riding 15 points high at the top of the Serie A table with just eight games to go. 

This outstanding performance has not only captivated fans but also caught the eye of betting enthusiasts. Inter Milan’s incredible season has received equal attention from sports fans as well as betting platforms such as the BetMGM app.

With the best defense and goal difference in Europe, let’s dive into what makes the Nerazzurri such a challenging opponent, and how Atletico Madrid managed to deny them in their quest for the 2023-24 Champions League trophy.

The Secret Behind Inter Milan’s Success

Inter Milan’s dominance this season can truly only be attributed to one thing, perhaps the most formidable backline in world football.

With a beautiful blend of youthful athleticism and veteran leaders, Inter’s defense is on pace to become the first team since Juventus in 2014-15 to allow 20 or fewer goals in a Serie A season

Players like longtime Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer seasoned Inter vet Stefan de Vrij, and Italian national team members Francesco Acerbi and Matteo Darmian provide tons of top-level experience on world-class teams, helping lead the way for a bevy of young stars including Federico Dimarco and Yann Bisseck.

But, there’s no argument for who the beating heart of their defense is. Plucked out of Atalanta’s youth academy in 2017,

Alessandro Bastoni isn’t just a tackling machine in the center of the pitch, he’s also arguably the greatest ball-playing center-back in the game today. The only Serie A CB with two+ assists in each of the last four seasons, Bastoni is a critical cog in Inter’s counter-attacking game. 

And, we’d be remiss not to mention those who make the difference further up the pitch as well, particularly the club’s captain and vice-captain.

Nicolò Barella has been a tireless box-to-box midfield presence in Milan for years now, serving as the vital link between Inter’s stout defense and attacking threats.

In front of him, club captain Lautauro Martinez is as clinical as they come among strikers, bagging 20+ goals in each of his last three Serie A seasons. 

Why did Inter Milan lose to Atletico Madrid In The Champions League

So the question is, with all this talent and such a dominant performance in the league, how did Inter Milan crash out of the Champions League against Atletico Madrid on penalties? For us, the answer is threefold. 

1) Lack of clinical finishing. Inter had two huge chances left begging on the counter in the second leg, failing to find the net on either of them. For a team that thrives attacking against the pace of play like Inter, not being able to finish off opportunities is a death sentence in knockout ties like this.

2) While both teams employed three center midfielders, Diego Simeone won the tactical battle with his squad selection. Marcos Llorente, Rodrigo De Paul, and Koke are all midfield players who know how to play aggressively and put in a good tackle, and it really showed in the number of 50/50 balls Atletico was winning. 

3) Penalties. Penalties, Penalties. At the end of the day, this match came down to which team could finish things off at the spot and, unfortunately, that might be Inter’s biggest weakness right now. The team lacks clinical penalty finishers, something that they must fix if they want to break this Champions League drought.