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Inzaghi keeps a cool head

Filippo Inzaghi tells uefa.com why there will be no room for sentiment against Juventus FC.

By Paolo Menicucci

Playing in a European final is often the pinnacle of a footballer's career and as such no added ingredients are required to spice an occasion already heavy with significance.

Facing former team
Hence Filippo Inzaghi's attempts to play down the fact that it is his former team, Juventus FC, whom AC Milan face in what is the first all-Italian UEFA Champions League final on Wednesday night. "It feels great just to play a Champions League final whoever the opponents are," he told uefa.com. "It will be a fascinating match in a wonderful stadium."

'Two great clubs'
Looking ahead to the showdown at Old Trafford, the 29-year-old striker continued: "There are no huge differences between Milan and Juventus. They are two great clubs and I'm really happy because I have been able to wear such important and prestigious shirts in my career."
 
Perfect start
The €40m signing from Juventus, who scored 58 goals in four seasons with the Bianconeri, is now at the end of his second term at the San Siro. The first was wrecked by a serious knee injury but this year Inzaghi made the perfect start by claiming both Milan goals in the third qualifying round win against FC Slovan Liberec and he has added a further ten goals during the competition.

Team player
However, if his ability to score goals has never been in doubt, this year Inzaghi has also shown that he has improved as a team player. Qualifying matches included, Inzaghi and his former strike partner at Juventus, Alessandro Del Piero, have both scored 29 Champions League goals. This season he became the highest-scoring Italian player in European club competition with 45 goals, overtaking Alessandro Altobelli's record of 39. Yet he insists his priority is the team.

Provided assists
"I hope to score in the final but what it really counts is that Milan win," he said. "I don't care if it will be me to decide the match or [goalkeeper] Dida. I just want to win this match." Evidence of this came in the 3-2 win in the quarter-final second leg against AFC Ajax, when he scored Milan's opener - a trademark strike from close range - but also played as a real leader for the whole 90 minutes, setting up goals for team-mates Andriy Shevchenko and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

'Great for Italian football'
As a full international, Inzaghi is also happy to be one of the men behind this year's renaissance of Italian football. "This final is a great for Italian football in general. In recent years Italian teams haven't managed to reach the final of this competition but now two Serie A teams will face each other at the Old Trafford. It's a great achievement, it's something to be really proud of."

Hopes for the final
Inzaghi hopes the final will be a good chance to prove the critics of Calcio wrong. "There will be so many people watching this game and we hope to offer them an entertaining match." However, he is aware that the only thing that will really count is the result.

Fear factor
"Ahead of this kind of match it's normal to feel a lot of pressure and it's not easy to play really well when the result is so important. In a final like this you always fear to make a mistake and pay for it." Juventus know better than anybody that any mistake they make will not be forgiven by a player like Inzaghi.