Inter Milan and FC Porto are two of the most successful and storied clubs in European soccer history. They have faced each other in several occasions, producing some of the most memorable and dramatic matches in the continent. Their rivalry spans over six decades, and has been marked by tactical brilliance, epic showdowns, controversies and drama.
This article will explore the timeline of their encounters, from their first meeting in the 1960s to their most recent clash in the 2020s.
FC Porto and Inter Milan: Legendary Teams
FC Porto is a Portuguese club based in the city of Porto. It was founded in 1893, and is one of the “Big Three” clubs in Portugal, along with Benfica and Sporting CP. FC Porto has won 29 domestic league titles, 17 domestic cups, and 7 international trophies, including two European Cups/Champions Leagues, two UEFA Cup/Europa Leagues, one European Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, and one Toyota Cup. FC Porto is known for its passionate and loyal fan base, its blue and white colors, and its dragon symbol.
Inter Milan is an Italian club based in the city of Milan. It was founded in 1908, and is one of the most popular and successful clubs in Italy and the world. Inter Milan has won 19 domestic league titles, 7 domestic cups, and 9 international trophies, including three European Cups/Champions Leagues, three UEFA Cup/Europa Leagues, two Intercontinental Cups, and one FIFA Club World Cup. Inter Milan is known for its black and blue colors, its snake symbol, and its rivalry with city neighbors AC Milan.
A Rivalry Through the Years
Past H2H Results
The first official encounter between Inter Milan and FC Porto took place in the European Cup during the 1965-66 season. It was a tightly contested two-legged affair, with Inter Milan emerging victorious on aggregate. The rivalry quickly intensified during the 1970s and 1980s, with both teams vying for domestic and European honors. They met again in the European Cup in 1978-79 and 1984-85, with Inter Milan winning both ties. They also faced each other in the UEFA Cup in 1980-81 and 1986-87, with FC Porto winning both ties. The most recent meetings between the two clubs occurred in the UEFA Champions League in 2005-06 and 2023-24, with Inter Milan winning both ties. In total, they have played 10 official matches, with Inter Milan winning 6, FC Porto winning 3, and 1 draw.
Some of the matches between Inter Milan and FC Porto have been unforgettable for their drama and intensity. One of the most famous ones was the 1987 UEFA Cup final, which was played over two legs. The first leg was held in Milan, and ended in a 1-1 draw. The second leg was held in Porto, and saw FC Porto take a 2-0 lead in the first half. However, Inter Milan staged a remarkable comeback in the second half, scoring three goals to level the aggregate score at 3-3. The match went to extra time, and then to penalties, where FC Porto prevailed 5-4, winning their first European trophy.
Another memorable match was the 2005 Champions League round of 16 second leg, which was held in Milan. The first leg had ended in a 1-1 draw in Porto, giving Inter Milan a slight advantage. However, FC Porto stunned Inter Milan by scoring two goals in the first 10 minutes, putting them in the driver’s seat. Inter Milan responded with a goal in the 24th minute, but FC Porto restored their two-goal cushion in the 35th minute. The second half saw Inter Milan launch a furious assault on FC Porto’s goal, scoring three goals in the span of 15 minutes, and taking a 4-3 lead on aggregate. However, FC Porto had the last word, scoring a dramatic equalizer in the 86th minute, and advancing to the quarter-finals on away goals.
Both Inter Milan and FC Porto have been renowned for their tactical acumen and innovation, often outsmarting and outplaying their opponents. One of the most influential coaches in their history was Helenio Herrera, who managed Inter Milan from 1960 to 1968, and FC Porto from 1972 to 1974. Herrera is considered one of the pioneers of the “catenaccio” system, a defensive-oriented strategy that relied on a tight backline, a sweeper, and quick counterattacks. Herrera led Inter Milan to two European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, and three Serie A titles, and FC Porto to one Portuguese Cup.
Another mastermind was José Mourinho, who managed FC Porto from 2002 to 2004, and Inter Milan from 2008 to 2010. Mourinho is regarded as one of the best coaches of his generation, and one of the most charismatic and controversial figures in soccer. Mourinho led FC Porto to an unprecedented treble of the Portuguese League, the Portuguese Cup, and the UEFA Cup in 2003, and then to another historic treble of the Portuguese League, the Portuguese Super Cup, and the Champions League in 2004. He then moved to Inter Milan, where he repeated the feat of winning a treble of the Serie A, the Coppa Italia, and the Champions League in 2010.
Controversies and Drama
The rivalry between Inter Milan and FC Porto has not been without its share of controversies and drama, both on and off the field. One of the most notorious incidents occurred in the 1980-81 UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg, which was held in Porto. The first leg had ended in a 2-2 draw in Milan, giving FC Porto a slight edge. However, Inter Milan took a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute, and seemed to be in control of the tie. However, the match turned ugly in the second half, when FC Porto’s goalkeeper, João Pinto, was sent off for punching Inter Milan’s striker, Alessandro Altobelli, in the face. The referee, Michel Vautrot, also awarded Inter Milan a penalty, which Altobelli converted. FC Porto’s players and fans were furious, and started to protest and throw objects onto the pitch. The match was suspended for 15 minutes, and then resumed, with FC Porto scoring two goals in the last 10 minutes, and winning the tie on away goals. However, Inter Milan appealed to UEFA, claiming that the match had been manipulated by the referee and the crowd. UEFA agreed, and ordered a replay at a neutral venue. The replay was held in Barcelona, and ended in a 1-1 draw, sending Inter Milan to the semi-finals.
Another controversial incident occurred in the 2005 Champions League round of 16 first leg, which was held in Porto. The match was tense and tight, with both teams creating chances, but failing to score. However, in the 78th minute, Inter Milan’s defender, Marco Materazzi, was shown a second yellow card, and sent off, for a foul on FC Porto’s striker, Benni McCarthy. The replays showed that Materazzi had barely touched McCarthy, and that the latter had exaggerated his fall. Inter Milan’s players and coach, Roberto Mancini, were outraged, and accused the referee, Anders Frisk, of being biased. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, but the controversy continued after the match, when Inter Milan’s president, Massimo Moratti, claimed that Frisk had been influenced by Mourinho, who had visited him in his dressing room at half-time. Frisk denied the allegations, but received death threats from some Inter Milan fans, and decided to retire from refereeing.
Changing Tides and Shifting Fortunes
Both Inter Milan and FC Porto have achieved remarkable feats in European soccer, winning multiple trophies and reaching several finals. Inter Milan’s golden era was in the 1960s, when they won two European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, and three Serie A titles under Herrera. They also reached the European Cup final in 1967 and 1972, but lost to Celtic and Ajax, respectively. Inter Milan’s second golden era was in the 2010s, when they won the treble of the Serie A, the Coppa Italia, and the Champions League under Mourinho. They also reached the UEFA Cup final in 1997 and 1998, but lost to Schalke and Lazio, respectively.
FC Porto’s golden era was in the 2000s, when they won the treble of the Portuguese League, the Portuguese Cup, and the UEFA Cup in 2003, and the treble of the Portuguese League, the Portuguese Super Cup, and the Champions League in 2004 under Mourinho. They also reached the UEFA Cup final in 2001 and 2011, but lost to Liverpool and Braga, respectively. FC Porto’s second golden era was in the 2020s, when they won the treble of the Portuguese League, the Portuguese Cup, and the Europa League in 2022, and the treble of the Portuguese League, the Portuguese Super Cup, and the Champions League in 2023 under Sérgio Conceição.
Soccer Style Showdown
Inter Milan and FC Porto have also been known for their contrasting and distinctive soccer styles, reflecting their different cultures and philosophies. Inter Milan’s style has been traditionally defensive, pragmatic, and efficient,
using the catenaccio system and the counterattack strategy. Inter Milan’s style has been influenced by their Italian heritage, their defensive mentality, and their pragmatic approach. Inter Milan’s style has also been adapted by some of their coaches, such as Herrera, Mourinho, and Antonio Conte, who added more intensity, pressure, and versatility to their game.
FC Porto’s style has been traditionally offensive, creative, and dynamic, using the possession-based system and the high-pressing strategy. FC Porto’s style has been influenced by their Portuguese heritage, their flair for improvisation, and their adventurous spirit. FC Porto’s style has also been enriched by some of their coaches, such as Mourinho, André Villas-Boas, and Conceição, who added more discipline, organization, and efficiency to their game.
Impact on Culture
Inter Milan and FC Porto have also had a significant impact on the culture and society of their respective countries and regions. Inter Milan’s success and popularity have boosted the prestige and influence of Italian soccer, especially in the international arena. Inter Milan have also contributed to the development and promotion of Italian culture, art, fashion, and cuisine, as well as the social and economic growth of Milan and Italy. Inter Milan have also inspired and supported various social and charitable causes, such as the Inter Campus project, which provides soccer education and opportunities to disadvantaged children around the world.
FC Porto’s success and popularity have enhanced the pride and identity of Portuguese soccer, especially in the domestic scene. FC Porto have also contributed to the preservation and celebration of Portuguese culture, history, music, and literature, as well as the political and democratic progress of Porto and Portugal. FC Porto have also inspired and supported various social and charitable causes, such as the FC Porto Foundation, which provides health, education, and sports programs to vulnerable and marginalized communities in Portugal and abroad.
Inter Milan and FC Porto are two of the most formidable and respected clubs in European soccer history. They have a long and intense rivalry, which has produced some of the most thrilling and dramatic matches in the continent. Their rivalry has also been marked by their contrasting and distinctive soccer styles, their tactical brilliance, and their cultural and social impact. Inter Milan and FC Porto have both achieved remarkable feats and honors, and have both left a lasting legacy in the world of soccer.