Pep Guardiola has won many titles with Manchester City, just not the Champions League. City will now meet Inter Milan in the final on Saturday (June 10th, 2023, from 9 p.m., live in the ticker on the sports show), with a lot of experience and an attacker who can look to the future.
When Inter Milan meets Manchester City in the final, the roles are clearly divided. Pep Guardiola’s City was expected in the final, but not with Inter. The club from Milan is an outsider. In this role they feel comfortable at Inter.
A few days ago, Inter’s Federico Dimarco was asked about opponents Manchester City: “For us, the final is a dream, for them an obsession.”
Inter have nothing to lose in the final
Dimarco is Italy’s best left-back and is a seed for the national team. He always plays at Inter, too, which is not good news for competitor Robin Gosens. And maybe Dimarco has a point there. Inter have nothing to lose in the final, Manchester City have a lot.
In the past two years, City have been in the final once – and lost to Chelsea, that was in the 2020/21 season. And last season, Manchester lost to Real Madrid in the semi-finals.
City won 13 titles under Guardiola, just not the Champions League
When they introduced Pep Guardiola as a coach in Manchester almost seven years ago, they associated it with the greatest goals. With titles, in England, but also in the Champions League, the “premium class” of football. City have won five league titles since then, eight cup titles, but they have not won the Champions League.
So Guardiola said in the days leading up to the final: “We have to win the Champions League.” And Ilkay Gundogan said: “There is nothing we want more than to win the Champions League.”
Gündogan, De Bruyne, Haaland – City has no shortage of stars
Gündogan is the captain of the “Citizens”, the 32-year-old is also their playmaker. There is never just one playmaker in Pep Guardiola’s teams. In midfield, the “six” Rodri arranges the build-up game. He rarely plays bad passes, often serving Gündogan or Kevin De Bruyne. You are responsible for the creative.
De Bruyne often scores important goals, but this season he’s even more of a penultimate pass man. He has provided 31 assists in 48 competitive games, an impressive record.
Then there are rail players Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva, their dribbling problems for defenses in Europe. And of course Erling Haaland, you don’t have to waste a lot of words about him. The 22-year-old has scored 52 goals in 52 games in his debut season for City.
Inter coach Inzaghi: “We are the underdog”
So a lot of work should be waiting for the defense of Inter Milan. Coach Simone Inzaghi knows that too, he says: “We are the underdog.” In his 3-5-2 formation, Francesco Acerbi is the chief of defence. Nothing fazes the 35-year-old very quickly. Inter is not lacking in experience in other respects either.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan plays a central role in midfield but his final appearance is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Marcelo Brozovic, once vice world champion with Croatia, could replace him. Hakan Calhanoglu is seeded, Inzaghi moved him to the sixth position, it was a smart move.
When Lukaku gave the fortune teller
Lautaro Martinez, 25, will almost certainly start in attack, having scored 28 competitive goals for Inter this season. For second place, coach Inzaghi can choose between Edin Dzeko, 37, and Romelo Lukaku, 30.
Dzeko has already scored some important goals this Champions League season but the form speaks for Lukaku. In Serie A he has scored seven goals in seven games, it is of course a successful application for a place in the starting eleven. And then there is Lukaku’s ability to be optimistic, but maybe he can just look to the future.
Before the start of this season, Inter Milan club boss Steven Zhang has just said that Lukaku came to him and promised him a place in the Champions League final. “I laughed and thought, ‘Lukaku is crazy'”said Zhang. But Lukaku was right as a fortune teller – and not only surprised Zhang.