With Inter Milan having secured their passage to the UEFA Champions League's knockout phase, club CEO Giuseppe Marotta has confessed that he did not expect his side to make it through a "Group of Death" that included Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
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On Wednesday night, the Nerazzurri thumped Czech side Viktoria Plzen 4-0 at the San Siro to book their place in the Champions League's round of 16 with a game to spare.
The Italian giants were tasked with overcoming arguably the most difficult group in the competition, but despite being drawn against Viktoria, Barca and Bayern in the tournament's first round in what was dubbed by many to be the "Group of Death", the 19-time Scudetto winners managed to progress to the knockouts for a second successive season.
It is an achievement Inter chief Marotta did not believe would happen.
"It is very true. I don't know what Barcelona predicted, but as far as we were concerned, our budget was prudent," he told Sky Sports Italy when asked if he had the foresight to see Inter's potential elimination.
"Having said that, we wanted to get through and the draw made it look very difficult, but this evening we can crown a small dream to qualify a game early from an extremely tough group."
The only Italian side ever to win a treble has been trying to tie down star central defender Milan Skriniar to a new long-term deal, and having secured additional funds through their qualification to the next stage of the UCL, Marotta hopes the club can soon come to a resolution with the Slovakian, with many top teams, including Paris Saint-Germain, looking to pounce on his contractual instability.
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"We want to sit down and discuss the contract with Skriniar because he is a great professional and deserves it, we hope he can be a reference point for Inter in the present and the future," Marotta added.
"Naturally, it takes two parties to reach an agreement in negotiations. I hope and am optimistic that we can extend his contract soon in what would be an important step for everyone concerned."
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