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Crucial Zones: Analyzing Man City vs Inter Milan for the Champions League Final
- Inter boast of more Champions League experience than Man City
- The Nerazzurri last won the UCL in 2010 with Jose Mourinho
- Man City go in search of their elusive Champions League trophy
The world’s attention will be on Istanbul on Saturday for the 2023 UEFA Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan.
Despite boasting more trophies both domestically and in Europe than the Cityzens, the Nerazzurri enter Saturday’s final as the underdogs.
Whichever way one looks at it, both teams possess strong squads and plenty of firepower, however, there are a few key areas where each team could potentially win or lose the match.
Manchester City are the odds-on favourites to win the Champions League for the first time.
The English team has been in terrific form this season, and their team includes some truly world-class players, including Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland, and Ilkay Gundogan, among others.
City’s offensive strength will be a big asset in the final, and they will attempt to score early to put Inter on the back foot, but they must be aware of Inter’s counter-attacking threat and be disciplined at the back if they are not to concede an early goal.
Inter will be happy to be the underdogs, hoping to cause an upset and win their first UCL title since 2010.
The Italian side have been in decent form this season and possess loads of experienced players including Edin Dzeko, Marcelo Brozovic, and Francesco Acerbi.
Inter’s strength in midfield will also be a major asset in the final, and winning the midfield battle will be top of Coach Simone Inzaghi’s plans.
They will also need to be clinical with their goal-scoring chances if they are to have any chance of winning the match.
Crucial area of focus
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The Champions League final is likely to be a close-fought battle, and it could be won or lost in these key areas:
The final third
Both Manchester City and Inter Milan have potent attackers, and it could be the team that scores the first goal that wins the match. City have the edge in terms of firepower, but Inter possess the more experienced attackers.
One interesting duel that could prove decisive is that between Erling Haaland and Acerbi
The Norwegian’s ruthlessness in front of goal this season has made it seem like he can single-handedly win games for City, even against the toughest of defences.
His European record speaks volumes as he heads into the final with 12 goals in 10 UCL appearances this season.
Inter will give 35-year-old Acerbi the onerous task of marking the 22-year-old, who stands at 6 feet 4 inches, just like the Italian defender. Whether Acerbi can keep Haaland quiet could well determine where the pendulum will swing on Saturday.
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At the other end of the pitch, the important duel will be between Lautaro Martinez and Ruben Dias.
The Argentine according to Whoscored has scored 28 goals and registered 11 assists in all competitions this season, including six goal contributions in 12 games in the Champions League and he will be a handful for Dias and indeed the City defenders.
Dias will be the most central of City’s three defenders and must track Martinez’s runs. How well he does this tricky job will most likely have a bearing on the outcome of Saturday’s final.
The midfield battle
The midfield battle will be crucial in the final. Against Chelsea in 2021, Pep Guardiola shuffled his pack and lost.
On Saturday, City have a slight edge in terms of quality and end product. Inter’s Nicolo Barella, Hakan Calhanoglu, and Brozovic are seasoned campaigners, while De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, and Gundogan are strong on the ball and potent goal-scoring threats.
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It would be a delight to see who will boss the midfield between Inter’s Barella and City’s Rodri. While Barella is more mobile than Rodri, the City midfielder is a dominating physical presence.
It is no mean feat that Rodri has attempted (926) and completed (851) more passes than any other player across the UCL this season, as reported by Footystats. It will be exciting and captivating to see which player stifles the other.
Both Manchester City and Inter Milan have strong defences, but there are a few areas where they could be vulnerable. City have been susceptible to counter-attacks, while Inter have been vulnerable to set pieces.
The team that makes the fewest mistakes in defence is likely to win the match.
The Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan will be closely fought. The team that makes the first mistake may lose in Istanbul on Saturday night.
City best placed for UCL?
Earlier Sports Brief reported that Four-time Champions League winner Clarence Seedorf believes Manchester City's mentality shift can finally allow them to conquer Europe.
Seedorf believes they have been the most complete package in Europe this season, which hasn't always been the case in his opinion.
He referenced the success and mindset of Liverpool, who won the tournament in 2019 and is confident that City have taken the next step which can help them in Istanbul.