- English champions Manchester City and three-time tournament winners Inter will meet in Istanbul for what is a monumental 2023 Champions League final.
- It is the first time throughout either side’s entire history that they will meet in competitive action with everything on the line in Europe’s grandest competition.
- Kyle Walker is a slight doubt for the Citizens, while Simone Inzaghi will have to choose between Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku to partner Lautaro Martinez up top.
Dzeko is looking likely to partner the in-form Martinez up top for the Nerazzurri, leaving fellow forwards Lukaku and Joaquin Correa on the bench. That would follow the trend of Simone Inzaghi preferring the former City man during the cup competitions. However, it is still not a guarantee that the Bosnian will start due to Lukaku’s strong run of form to end the Serie A campaign.
Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been dealing with a thigh injury of late which has seen him fail to make a single appearance over Inter’s previous four matches. However, he has returned to training and could start in the final here. Inzaghi will have to choose a midfield three out of Mkhitaryan, Marcelo Brozovic, Hakan Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella.
Milan Skriniar has also returned to the squad after overcoming a back injury. However, he has failed to play a single minute of action since mid-March so is not expected to start. Federico Dimarco and Correa should be fit to return to the squad too since they missed the last match against Torino due to injury.
City are not expected to be dealing with many selection issues ahead of the gigantic final in Istanbul. However, Kyle Walker has been struggling with a back issue this week in the build-up to the game and remains a doubt. Manuel Akanji is a likely candidate to slot in towards the right-hand side of the defence if needed but Walker has been named in the squad ahead of the final.
Champions League Form
Still undefeated in this year’s competition, City have been outstanding in Europe. They eased through their group after dropping points in just two matches before dismantling RB Leipzig 8-1 on aggregate in the round of 16.
Things were a little more difficult for the Citizens in the quarter-finals and semi-finals as they took on the respective German and Spanish champions in Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. However, it was still relatively easy for Pep Guardiola’s side, winning by three and four-goal margins, proving just how relentless they are.
City were ruthless when they welcomed Real Madrid to the Etihad and Carlo Ancelotti’s side had no chance as the Manchester outfit recorded a richly-deserved 4-0 victory in the return leg. Inter will have to be extremely careful of City’s offensive prowess but Inzaghi will also have to be attentive enough to not invite too much pressure. Balance will be key.
Despite suffering two defeats during the group stage, Inter have gone undefeated in every knockout match since, conceding just three goals in the process. It has been their defensive stability that has largely helped the Nerazzurri into the final since they have kept five clean sheets out of a possible six en route to the final.
All eyes were on the mouth-watering Derby della Madonnina in the semi-final between Inter and Milan and it was Inzaghi’s men who unduly delivered. They raced away to a two-goal lead after just 11 minutes in the first leg before putting in a composed and professional display during the 1-0 win in the return fixture.
UCL 22/23 Key Stats:
Goals For: Man City 31, Inter 19
Goals Against: Man City 5, Inter 10
Both Teams To Score %: Man City 42%, Inter 17%
Over 2.5 Goals %: Man City 58%, Inter 25%
Having never met each other before in a competitive fixture, City and Inter will meet in dramatic style for the first ever time. However, the Citizens have faced Italian clubs a total of 16 times throughout their history and have a positive record, winning a total of six matches, drawing four and losing four.
The Manchester club are on a run of four matches unbeaten against Italian opposition and last suffered a defeat against Juventus back in 2015 during the group stage of the 2015/16 Champions League.
Inter are far more experienced when coming up against English opposition and have played 38 matches against them, dating all the way back to 1956. They have actually lost more times than they have won, losing a total of 17 matches, winning 15 and drawing six. The Nerazzurri also lost their last match against an English club as they suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Tottenham Hotspur in 2018.
Being crowned champions for the fifth time in six seasons, City managed to overcome Arsenal’s title charge. The Gunners sat top of the table for the majority of the season but ran out of steam as City went on a fantastic run of 12 consecutive matches without dropping a single point to beat them to the Premier League trophy.
City appeared to take their foot off the gas as they drew 1-1 away to Brighton and suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Brentford to conclude their Premier League season but got back to winning ways with a 2-1 win over city rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final. The treble is still on and Inter pose the final challenge for what is set to be a historic season for the Citizens.
As for Inter, they had a fairly disappointing Serie A campaign that saw them lose a mammoth 12 matches in the league. They still managed to secure a top-four finish and their place in the Champions League next term but they will want to improve next season.
Still, the Nerazzurri are on for a cup double after being crowned Coppa Italia champions for the second consecutive year and have also had a brilliant end to the season. Having won all but one of their last 12 matches, Inter will be full of confidence in getting the better of one of the most proficient and dangerous attacks in Europe.
Prediction & Suggested Bets
Manchester City 1-2 Inter @ 16/1 City are by far the favourites heading into the final and for good reason. However, Inter could certainly pull off an upset and in a one-off game, anything can happen. Both teams are in wonderful form over the last few months and if Martinez is fully firing, we can see Inter edging the win as Guardiola’s Champions League hoodoo continues.
Lautaro Martinez To Score or Assist @ 12/5 Inter’s talisman has been on fire of late and has five goal contributions in his last five appearances. His 21 Serie A goals were bettered only by Victor Osimhen and Martinez also averages a goal contribution every other game in the Champions League this term.
Rodri To Commit 2+ Fouls @ 5/6 It will likely be an extremely combative battle in the midfield and the Nerazzurri’s quality shouldn’t be underestimated. City will likely control possession as Inter mainly look to hit on the counter, leaving Rodri as the most likely player needed to try and curtail them in transition.
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