Manchester City have already secured a domestic double this season, but they have a chance to make history by adding a third trophy in the Champions League final. The only thing standing in their way is Inter Milan, a surprise finalist who have defied the odds to reach Istanbul.
Manchester City are no strangers to the Champions League final, having reached it for the second time in three years, but they are still chasing their first European crown. Their manager, Pep Guardiola, has won the competition twice before with Barcelona, but he has also faced criticism for his tactical choices in big games.
Guardiola’s reputation for overcomplicating his game plan dates back to his time at Bayern Munich, where he experimented with different formations and systems, often to his detriment. His most infamous decision came in the 2021 final against Chelsea, when he left out a natural defensive midfielder and saw his side lose 1-0.
Guardiola has learned from his mistakes, however, and has stuck to his preferred 4-3-3 formation for most of this season, with Manchester City dominating the Premier League and the FA Cup. He has also found a way to get the best out of his star striker, Erling Haaland, who has scored a record-breaking 41 goals in all competitions.
Haaland is widely regarded as the new face of European football, following the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to Saudi Arabia and Miami respectively. The Norwegian sensation has a chance to cement his status as the world’s best player by leading Manchester City to glory on Saturday.
Inter Milan, on the other hand, are not expected to pose much of a threat to Manchester City’s ambitions. The Italian side have not won the Champions League since 2010, when they completed a historic treble under Jose Mourinho. They have also struggled financially in recent years, forcing them to sell some of their key players.
However, Inter Milan have defied the odds under their new manager, Simone Inzaghi, who took over from Antonio Conte last summer. Inzaghi has kept Inter’s defensive solidity and added more flair and creativity to their attack, with Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku forming a lethal partnership up front.
Inter Milan have also shown remarkable resilience and determination in their Champions League campaign, overcoming tough opponents such as Real Madrid, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain on their way to the final. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain in Istanbul, where they hope to spoil Manchester City’s party and join Ajax as four-time winners of the competition.