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Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Antonio Calanni Inter Milan defender Javier Zanetti holds up the cup with his team after winning the Champions League.
# good fortune
The Inter team that won the Champions League with the help of a volcanic ash cloud
It’s five years since arguably Jose Mourinho’s greatest achievement in football took place.

BARCELONA ARE STRONG favourites to win the Champions League tonight, but their opponents Juventus could do worse than take inspiration from the Inter side that won the trophy in 2010.

Like Juve, Jose Mourinho’s men were not especially fancied to prevail that year, and just as the Bianconeri will be hoping to do, they beat Barcelona along the way.

Indeed, while they still had to beat Louis van Gaal’s Bayern Munich in the final, their defeat of Barca, who were widely seen as the world’s best team back then (as is the case now as well), in the semi-final would have given them an enormous confidence boost.

Having won 3-1 in the first leg at home, Inter’s performance in the second leg at the Nou Camp was hailed as a defensive masterclass from Mourinho.

It was already a daunting enough task going into the second leg for the Italian side, but the challenge became even greater when Thiago Motta was sent off for a hand-off on Sergio Busquets, meaning Inter would have to play for over an hour with 10 men.

Gerard Pique’s strike on 84 minutes reduced the defecit on aggregate, and meant Barca needed just one more to triumph on away goals.

Yet as impressive as Inter’s deeply resilient performance was, they needed two strokes of good fortune to prevail — one during the second leg and one prior to the first leg.

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In injury time, Bojan Krkic, now of Stoke, had a goal dubiously ruled out, after Yaya Toure was penalised for an alleged handball in the build-up.

Furthermore, a volcanic ash cloud was wreaking havoc with flights around Europe at the time, and Barcelona had to consequently make the arduous journey to Italy by bus for the first leg.

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As a result, the Catalan side were still feeling the effects of the prolonged trip to Milan by the time they started the first leg, and their play was noticeably lacking in sharpness, with Inter taking full advantage, as they claimed a 3-1 victory.

They would go on to beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final, with a brace from Diego Milito.

It was Mourinho’s second Champions League triumph, and paved the way for his much-anticipated move to manage Real Madrid that summer, but none of that may have happened were it not for an unexpected volcanic ash cloud.

Barca avoided a similar problem the following year, as they were decided to fly to London two days earlier than planned, as a volcanic ash cloud threatened once again to undermine their efforts, ahead of the 2011 Champions League final with Man United.

The Inter team that won the 2010 Champions League: Julio Cesar; Javier Zanetti, Lucio, Walter Samuel, Maicon; Christian Chivu, Esteban Cambiasso, Wesley Sneijder; Diego Milito, Goran Pandev, Samuel Eto’o. Subs: Francesco Toldo, Ivan Cordoba, Marco Materazzi, Dejan Stankovic, Sulley Muntari, McDonald Mariga, Mario Balotelli.

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