One decade after falling to Marseille on away goals in the 2011/12 Champions League, Inter has made a long-awaited return to the Champions League Round of 16. The Nerazzurri’s 2-0 victory over Shakhtar combined with Real Madrid’s steamrolling of Sheriff Tiraspol booked a spot in the next round for both winning clubs with one matchday to go. Inter (on 10 points) still can finish first should it manage to beat Los Blancos (12 points) in Spain in two weeks' time. For now, though, simply still being alive in the Champions League past the new year is a success. Inter has missed out on the top-two on the final matchday of each of the past three seasons, but that unhappy storyline can finally be put to rest. In an almost-identical group as last season, Simone Inzaghi did what Antonio Conte couldn’t thanks to three-straight victories over Sheriff and Shakhtar. Inter can now focus fully on the league until its early December visit to the Santiago Bernabéu to decide Group D’s winner.
We’ll find out who the good guys will line up against in February in the knockout stage draw on Monday, December 13th.