Milan, Inter, and Napoli's historic qualification for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals has sparked excitement in Italian football, as they are determined to bring the coveted title back to Italy.
Italy is now the most-represented country in the Champions League (UCL) final eight as Napoli, Inter Milan, and AC Milan managed to qualify for this stage of the tournament by eliminating Eintracht Frankfurt, Porto, and Tottenham respectively.
The three clubs will now vie for a spot on this year's final to be held at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on June 10.
Napoli make history in easy Eintracht win
Luciano Spalletti's Napoli reached the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals for the first time in history with a 5-0 aggregate win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Napoli also hopes to achieve a first in over three decades at home as well, as they eye their first Serie A title in 33 years in the coming weeks.
The last time three Italian top-tier clubs, namely AC Milan, Inter, and Juventus, made it to the quarterfinals was in 2006. That year, another Italian team, Udinese had been knocked out in the group stage.
While AC Milan got to the semifinal match, they suffered a narrow loss on aggregate against Barcelona.
In the past 17 years, AC Milan and Inter Milan won a UCL trophy each.
Playing at Olympic Stadium in Athens, AC Milan upset Liverpool with a 2-1 result to bag their seventh Champions League title in a remarkable feat.
The last time a Serie A club won the UCL title was in the 2009-2010 season, when Inter Milan defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid.
Jose Mourinho ended Nerazzurri's 45-year trophy drought as Inter clinched their third Champions League title.
During that time, Juventus lost two Champions League finals, which were against Barcelona in 2015 and Real Madrid in 2017.
Italy has since been represented by only two clubs at most in the quarterfinals of Europe's top club football competition.
Real Madrid hold comfortable UCL title lead
In Champions League history, Real Madrid hold the record for most victories, having won the competition 14 times, including the latest in 2022 when they faced off against Liverpool in the final.
The Spanish club led the way with a title to their name after a narrow victory against Liverpool last season.
AC Milan, meanwhile, are the most successful Italian club in the Champions League, with seven titles. Bayern Munich and Liverpool have clinched the annual showpiece six times each.
They are followed by Barcelona with five to their name and Ajax with four.
This year, neither Barcelona nor French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain are in the quarterfinals.
Bayern Munich's 3-0 aggregate win over Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 left the Parisians' star-studded squad, including Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, with no shot at the Champions League for another year.
Barcelona were among eight UEFA Champions League sides to finish third in each of their groups this season.
Barca then said goodbye to the Europa League as well, after suffering a 4-3 aggregate loss to Manchester United.
Heading to Istanbul
The Champions League quarterfinals will be played in two legs, with the first on April 11-12 and the return legs a week later on April 18-19.
The semifinals, also to be played in two leg, will be staged on May 9-10 and May 16-17 before the final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul on June 10.
Istanbul previously hosted the 2005 final, in which Liverpool came back against AC Milan to claim Europe's top-tier club trophy.
UCL quarterfinal draw in full:
Real Madrid vs. Chelsea
Benfica vs. Inter Milan
Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich
AC Milan vs. Napoli
AC Milan vs. Napoli / Benfica vs. Inter Milan
Real Madrid vs. Chelsea / Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich
Source: Anadolu Agency