Throwback XI: Inter Milan 2009/10 – their last Champions League semi-finalist before 2022/23

As Inter Milan find themselves with a great chance of reaching the 2022/23 Champions League final, we look back on the Nerazzurri’s 2009/10 squad – their last semi-finalists, and eventual victors.

Inter put together an all-time campaign thirteen years ago. With Jose Mourinho leading a squad of experienced, talented players, the Serie A giants conquered all who opposed them. They won their 18th Serie A crown and completed a domestic double with a Coppa Italia triumph.

Their crowning glory, though, was a third-ever Champions League to complete the treble. Inter defeated the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona on their way to the final. Once there, they beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in Madrid.

So, we are going to reminisce on the Inter starting XIs from the two 2009/10 semi-final games, as well as the final.

Goalkeeper and defence

Between the sticks throughout this legendary campaign was Julio Cesar. Before his ill-fated spell at QPR, the Brazilian was among the top goalkeepers in the world during the early part of the 2010s.

Ahead of him, a pair of compatriots made up half of the back four. These were Lucio at centre-half and Maicon operating at right-back. The Selecao pair made that year’s FIFPRO World XI team – two of three Internazionale players in the coveted squad.

Alongside Lucio at the heart of Mourinho’s back four for the Champions League semis was Walter Samuel. He started ahead of Ivan Cordoba and Marco Materazzi, who were both further into their thirties than the Argentine.

Completing the veteran feel to the 2009/10 Inter Milan defence was none other than captain Javier Zanetti. Ever versatile, “El Tractor” started both legs of the Barcelona tie at left-back. Meanwhile, in the final, Zanetti slotted into midfield.

Christian Chivu played left-back in the showpiece game after an unfamiliar left-midfield role at Camp Nou.

This defence was organised, experienced, and professional – a classic Jose Mourinho back four.  

The midfield

Moving into midfield now, and although Zanetti played there in the final, just one of The Special One’s holding pivots played in the semis and final. That was Esteban Cambiasso. The Argentine was a stalwart in the Inter engine room – vital to the Nerazzurri’s success.

Meanwhile, in the semis, Thiago Motta started both matches alongside Cambiasso in midfield. However, the Italian saw red in the second leg against Barcelona – he thus missed the final.

Ahead of these two was Wesley Sneijder. The Dutch international was at his best in 2010. He was a key piece of Inter’s dominant side, then helped the Netherlands reach the World Cup final. Sneijder was the third Nerazzurri star to make the FIFPRO World XI.

The attack

Leading the Inter Milan attack throughout the 2009/10 season was Diego Milito. He had a career year; 30 goals and eight assists across all competitions. Of course, this included a brace in the final that delivered the Champions League. But Milito also found the net in the first leg of the semis.

Milito was the focal point, with Samuel Eto’o alongside. Unfortunately, though, the former Barca icon found himself in an unfamiliar wide role in Mourinho’s team. Despite this, Eto’o was another important cog in the Inter machine – and he got revenge on his former employers in the semi-finals.

Goran Pandev was generally the player used on the left-hand side. He played during the first game of Inter’s semi-final, where they won 3-1. Pandev also started in the final. However, Jose Mourinho opted for Christian Chivu – a more defensive option – on the left as they defended their advantage in the second semi-final match.

The manager tried not to mess with his team too much and the squad repaid his faith. After winning 3-1 at the San Siro, Inter held on at Camp Nou to beat Barcelona on aggregate. Then, in the final, Diego Milito was the match-winner as he scored a brace to defeat Bayern.

In 2023, Simone Inzaghi’s current squad will look to replicate the success of this now iconic 2009/10 Inter Milan squad.

Featured image credit: Getty