The Champions League final is here and it will bookend the European club season. Inter Milan will be hoping to cause a surprise and beat Manchester City. If they do, they will deny Pep Guardiola a famous treble. This is a huge opportunity for the Spaniard to finally capture the European Cup as a manager outside of Barcelona. It has been a long wait and he will feel like this is an opportunity he must take.
Since the Abu Dhabi takeover at Manchester City, they have wanted to win this competition. They came close a couple of seasons ago, but fell short in the final. Chelsea beat them on that day to secure their second triumph in this competition. It will be expected that City surpass that total in the coming years, but that first win has been the elusive one. They have already won the Premier League and FA Cup, which means the squad are full of confidence. Many believe they are the heavy favourites this weekend.
Inter Milan have been impressive in this competition, without beating any of the big boys, so to speak. Simone Inzaghi was under pressure until recently, but he will hope that a top four finish and his success in cup competitions will get him another season in charge. It would be a huge achievement if they were to beat the odds to win the Champions League. There hasn’t been a final that has been considered this one sided on paper for a while. Guardiola won’t underestimate his opposition though. Any team that gets this far is a threat.
There has been an Italian team in the two previous European finals this season (Roma and Fiorentina). Neither managed to lift the trophy.
This is the first ever competitive meeting of these two clubs.
Only nine players in history have won the European Cup and the World Cup in the same season. On Saturday, that will become ten, with Julian Alvarez and Lauraro Martinez competing on opposite sides.
The Belgian international has regularly risen to the occasion in a Manchester City shirt. It was his equaliser in the first leg of the semi final that helped Manchester City get a foothold in the tie before returning to Manchester. If Real Madrid had taken a lead to England, the tie could have played out differently. He is in his peak years and he will be determined to lift Europe’s premier competition. It is the one trophy that has eluded him domestically. The 31-year-old has two goals and six assists in this season’s Champions League. It is a very good record and underlines the role he has played for City to date. His creativity will be a real concern for Inter Milan.
The World Cup was ultimately a disappointment for Martinez. The forward lost his starting role and missed a number of good chances for Argentina. This is a chance for him to remind the world of his quality on a world stage. He has the ability to score and create chances for others. That dual threat means that he is the player that Manchester City need to be most wary of. With just three goals and three assists in the Champions League, Martinez will feel there is more to come in this competition. There is no better time for him to step up than Saturday. He is a player that many believe has the potential to be one of Europe’s best forwards. Saturday could be the start of him establishing that reputation.
There are two main worries for Manchester City, as Manuel Akanji and Kyle Walker are both doubts. They have missed training this week. If both were missing, there would be a lack of pace in the City defence. That could lead to a reshuffle.
Henrikh Mkitaryan and Joaquin Correa are both doubts for the Serie A side. It is hoped that both will be available. Romelu Lukaku is pushing for a start.
Anything can happen in this competition. City have lost ties that they were heavy favourites in before. However, this feels like their time. They have an opportunity to record a treble and create history in English football. Over the last few months, they have been relentless and barely missed a beat. Inter Milan have attackers that can score goals and they will be hoping that they are all on form. A City triumph does feel the most likely outcome.
Manchester City 3-1 Inter Milan