Champions League Final Preview

Istanbul, the venue of arguably the greatest Champions League final ever in 2005, will witness more history tonight with Manchester City on the brink of a first ever European Cup and with it a historic treble while their opponents Inter Milan are seeking a fourth Champions League success to complement their Coppa Italia triumph earlier this season.

Pep Guardiola’s side weren’t at their flowing best during last weekends FA Cup final win against Manchester United but they got the job done as the City boss enhanced his incredible record in finals to P26, W23.

The Spaniard was accused of over thinking his lineup and tactics after defeat to Chelsea in the final of this competition two seasons ago but a reoccurrence seems unlikely tonight with Guardiola very much appearing to have a best XI, the XI that tore reigning champions Real Madrid to pieces at the Etihad last month.

Erling Haaland was brought to the club in the summer to fill the missing piece in the City Champions League puzzle and 52 goals later the Cityzens are now on the cusp of greatness.

It won’t be a walk in the park for the Norwegian striker tonight though with Inter recording clean sheets in 5 of their last 6 UCL matches. Inter are also something of a rarity in the modern game with Simone Inzaghi’s team deploying a front two.

Striker Lautaro Martinez has already experienced the pressure of a big final this season with the 25-year-old featuring in Argentina’s stunning World Cup final win against France in December. The World Cup winner has scored 27 times for Inter this season and is their star man.

Who partners the Argentine in the Inter attack is the burning question ahead of tonight’s final with two former Manchester based players battling it out for a starting position in the form of ex-City hero Edin Dzeko and former Man United frontman Romelu Lukaku.

Many pundits have thrown out the theory that Inter must score first to stand any chance of stopping the City juggernaut but when you look back at the earlier stages of their UCL campaign, Inter were carved open by the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and even Benfica.

City have been fast starters in so many big games this season, Gundogan’s quickfire goal at Wembley a prime example, the intensity this City team play at could prove too much for even a stubborn Inter to live with.

VERDICT: Man City (1/2)

BEST BET: Bernardo Silva – UEFA POTM (10/1)

Silva, who often goes under the radar thanks to the likes of De Bruyne and Haaland, was sensational in the semi-final second-leg against Madrid and could play a huge part in securing City’s first UCL crown.

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article