With City having already secured two parts of what would be a historic treble, now the side are just a game away from landing the one trophy that’s eluded them since their ascent to footballing aristocracy.
Inter are three-time winners of this tournament
After winning the Premier League title for the fifth time in six seasons, along with an FA Cup victory where the victors barely seemed to break a sweat, that City will complete the treble seems overwhelmingly likely.
Of course, the Champions League has proven by far the most arduous of trophies for Pep to procure; he has won this competition twice in 2009 and ‘11, when he managed Barcelona. For this most elite of coaches, the third time’s been a long time coming.
The final comes against an Inter Milan side who’ve been characterised as “plucky” ahead of the trip to Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium. It’s not a description to fill one with confidence that the Serie A side can spoil Pep’s party.
At least the Italians can look to their history for inspiration. Inter are three-time winners of this tournament, after all – that’s three times more than City – triumphing most recently in 2010.
Footballing heritage only gets you so far, though. Inter have finished the season strongly, but Simone Inzaghi’s side nonetheless ended the campaign third in Serie A, 18 points shy of champions Napoli.
This Inter side is not without established names. Romelu Lukaku is a contender to lead the line for the Nerazzurri – though it’s telling that the Belgian may begin on the bench, with 37-year-old (and former City star) Edin Dzeko a strong contender to start.
Inzaghi has won seven of the eight Cup finals he’s managed
Whatever Inter’s strengths, there’s a gulf in resources between these two teams. Guardiola has been able to assemble a squad of brilliantly talented footballers; at least in financial terms, Inter can’t compete.
With Inzaghi having won seven of the eight Cup finals he’s previously contested as manager, Inter can’t be ruled out. Nonetheless, the feeling is that after going close with City on previous occasions, Guardiola is not about to mess up this opportunity.
As an indication of intent, City’s performance against Man Utd in the FA Cup final last week tells its own tale. The Citizens went 1-0 up against their rivals after 12 seconds, courtesy of the first of Ilkay Gundogan’s two goals at Wembley last weekend.
This week, it could be Erling Haaland’s turn to shine. Or Bernardo Silva. Or Julian Alvarez. Or…
Kevin De Bruyne may provide the catalyst for victory
On this occasion, Kevin De Bruyne may be the likeliest man to provide the catalyst for a City victory. The Belgian has occasionally been criticised for a failure to step up and take charge in the biggest games; yet when City have needed someone to seize the reins this season, I can think of a few recent occasions when he provided the breakthrough.
De Bruyne scored the equaliser against Real Madrid in the first leg of the semi-final. He also scored a brace against Arsenal back in April, back when the Gunners were still contenders to finish ahead of City in the title race.
If Inter are proving difficult to break down this weekend, it could be De Bruyne who delivers for City; the 31-year-old is 14/5 to find the net at any time on Saturday.
Otherwise, if you believe Gundogan can continue his recent flurry of goals, the club captain is 8/1 to find the opener; the German has scored six goals in his last six games in all competitions, via three braces. He’s 17/1 to score at least two goals once more here.
More prosaically, you could back City to win and BTTS No in a double at 27/20. The Manchester team are surely capable of winning this one in 90 minutes without the opposition scoring.
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