The Champion’s League Final takes us back to Istanbul where one of the most dramatic UCL finals ever was played.
The Italians come in as the heavy underdogs. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Simone Inzaghi will have his team ready. They have responded throughout the knockout stages, with wins and goals when they’ve needed them.
Hakan Calhanoglu. The Turkish midfielder will be on his national soil for the big game. He’s the creative link for Martinez and Dzeko. His ability to stay calm and break through the City pressure will be vital if Inter Milan is going to challenge City’s back-three. Quality set pieces, often from Calhanoglu, are a must. If City shuts him down, it will be tough for Inter to manufacture offense.
The pressure of high expectations is on Man City and Pep Guardiola. City has already won a domestic double. But the UCL Trophy is the one missing for the Treble, the missing tooth in City’s beaming trophy case. City breezed through the knockout rounds, conceding once and shutting out once in the two legs against each opponent, and two of those (Bayern Munich and Real Madrid) are powerhouse teams in Europe.
Erling Halaand. Yes, this seems obvious, and yet, when City has struggled to put away games and find themselves vulnerable, it’s not because they aren’t playing better, it’s because they aren't finishing their chances. An early City goal, or multiple early misses, could have a major impact on how the game flows.
Manchester City 3-1 Inter Milan
This is Man City’s game to win or lose. There is no doubt in my mind about that. The first 15 minutes to me are crucial. City will come out swinging. If Inter can find some defensive shape and hold them off, the game becomes more interesting as it goes, with a counter or set-piece goal not inconceivable from Inter.
In the end, I think City are simply too good with too many players on top of their game when they need to be. The high-tempo press and skillful link-up play will be fun to watch!
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