Lautaro Martinez eyeing World Cup-UEFA Champions League double

Lautar Martinez Inter

Martinez was part of the Argentina squad that lifted the World Cup in December.

Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez is determined to seize the moment as he looks to follow up his World Cup triumph with success in the Champions League.

The Italian side face favorites Manchester City in Istanbul on Saturday for Europe’s top prize and Martinez will be hoping to cap off a memorable campaign that saw him help Argentina to international success in December.

Martinez told a press conference at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium: “These are two big finals that a footballer can play.

“It’s definitely been a very positive season for me. I’m happy with how it went and how I did it. Now we hope to finish in the best possible way.

“If you want to achieve your goal, this is the very last step and we have to be ready to take it. It will be a very important game for everyone at Inter and the club.”

In Saturday’s match, Martinez will face his Argentine teammate Julian Alvarez, with whom he shared glory in Qatar.

Martinez said: “I have not been in contact with Julian. I got married recently and I invited him, but he couldn’t attend.”

Inter, who finished third in Serie A, are rated as underdogs against a City side in contention to complete the treble.

Coach Simeone Inzaghi said: “After reaching the final, we didn’t have time to think about it because we still had games to play.

“We are only now realizing what we have achieved, but we are not relaxed. We will focus a lot and fight for every inch of the pitch against an excellent team.

“We have to be fully focused and not make any mistakes.”

Key to Inter’s hopes will be stopping the prolific Erling Haaland, who has scored 52 goals for City this season.

Inzaghi said: “We know who we have to play. We know Manchester City are probably the best in the world. They did it, they were defeated very few times.

“We know what kind of player Haaland is. It is clear that we will pay special attention to him.

“I have prepared something, but it will have to defend all of Inter and try to limit not only Haaland, but all of City.”

Inter midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, a Turkey international, hopes to have the locals on his side, although City captain Ilkay Gundogan also has proud Turkish heritage.

Calhanoglu said: “I think it will be a very special match for me. It is strange for a Turk to play in Istanbul.

“I want to enjoy this moment and I don’t know if I will play another final. We will do our best.

“I know that the Turks will support me. Gundogan is in the second team but he plays for Germany so maybe it’s more important for our people that I win. That’s my dream.”

Former Manchester United striker Henrikh Mkhitaryan has returned to training for Inter following a thigh injury but remains a doubt.

Inzaghi said: “We have a positive feeling but it’s not 100 per cent. I’ll have to decide if I build him from the start or send him during the match.”

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