Only Inter Milan stand in Manchester City’s way as Pep Guardiola chases glory in the UEFA Champions League final to complete the treble. Here, we preview Saturday’s showpiece.
Man City vs Inter: Quick Stats
- This will be the first ever competitive meeting between these two sides. It will also be the first time since the 2005 final (Liverpool vs AC Milan) that the first competitive meeting between two sides is a Champions League final.
- Erling Haaland has scored 12 goals for Manchester City in the Champions League this season, the joint-most by a player for an English team in a single campaign.
- The Opta supercomputer makes City huge favourites, giving them a 74.1% chance of lifting the trophy, compared to 25.9% for Inter.
- Bet365 have a new account offer ahead of this UCL tie: Bet £10 and get £30 in bet credits.
Manchester City are one game away from an historic treble – if they win, it will only be the 10th treble that we’ve ever seen in Europe. After beating rivals Manchester United in last weekend’s FA Cup final, they already have a domestic double under their belt, and now they have Inter standing in their way in Istanbul on Saturday night.
The Champions League has been the one trophy that has eluded City ever since their takeover in 2008 that ultimately shot them to the peak of the game and numerous domestic trophies over the years. Now, they are one game away from winning it and completing a sensational treble.
For Pep Guardiola, this is familiar territory. It is his fourth Champions League final as a manager, having won two with Barcelona – in 2009 and 2011 – and losing the 2021 edition as City boss, and he is looking to win his third title this weekend. Only Carlo Ancelotti has managed in more Champions League finals (five), while only Ancelotti (four) and Zinedine Zidane (three) have won more than his two. It remains to be seen if he will continue as City manager if he is victorious in Saturday’s final as he will have won just about everything there is to win at the club.
“I would like to continue here next season here independent of the results,” Guardiola said last month. “I would like it, but I don’t know what going to feel winning or losing the two chances [FA Cup and Champions League finals] we have ahead of us, my feeling I have a contract [until 2024] and when I sign I want to respect the club.”
City ended the season in unstoppable form, storming to the Premier League title with 12 straight wins, before seeing off United at Wembley last week. There’s little surprise that they come into this game as huge favourites.
They are a skinny 9/20 to win in 90 minutes with bet365, but given how utterly dominant they can be when they need to, combining that with a Man City clean sheet (11/8) at least gives you a price above evens.
Inter, meanwhile, finished third in Serie A and, although they ended their season with 11 wins from 12 games in all competitions – including a Coppa Italia final win over Fiorentina – they will have their work cut out to beat City here. They are only the fourth side ever to reach the Champions League final having lost their first game of the season in the competition, along with Milan in 1994-95, Bayern Munich in 1998-99 and Tottenham in 2018- 19, and all of those teams lost their finals.
This game brings together a clash of styles. In Champions League games this season, City have recovered the ball and initiated their open-play sequences at an average of 47.2 metres from their own goal – the highest up the field of any team. Inter, meanwhile, are the team who have done so the closest to their own goal (38.4 metres) of sides who progressed out of the group stage. Guardiola’s side are likely to dominate the ball, while Inter will sit back and look to hit their opponents on the break. Only Milan (13) have had more shots from counter-attacks in this season’s Champions League than Inter (12).
City should be free to name their strongest team for the UCL final and will likely be unchanged from their FA Cup final win over Man United. Kyle Walker has a minor back issue but that is unlikely to rule him out of such a big game.
Inter have good team news in that Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Milan Škriniar are both expected to be fit to make the squad – with Škriniar expected to start – though Joaquín Correa could miss out with a calf injury.
The teams have never met in a competitive game, and will play for the first time in Saturday’s Champions League final. They last played a pre-season friendly back in 2011, when a certain Edin Džeko – likely to start up front for Inter – scored one of City’s goals in a 3-0 win.
City put any worries over their three below-par performances in the Premier League after the title was wrapped well behind them with a typically convincing display in the FA Cup final last week. They chased down Arsenal with an extraordinary run of wins in the league, while also seeing off RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in that time in the Champions League, before stumbling in their last three games of the league season. They only just managed to beat Chelsea with a 1-0 win, before drawing at Brighton and losing to Brentford on the final day of the campaign. There will have been some City fans who became concerned about that dip in their form, but the truth is that Guardiola rested a lot of first-team players and the team will have been well aware that those games were less important. Back at full strength at Wembley, they looked very much back to their best against United.
The only blemish on the end of Inter’s season was the 3-1 defeat to Napoli in mid-May. Inter won 11 of their final 12 games of the season in all competitions, only failing to beat the Serie A champions in Naples, and even that defeat could be at least in part attributed to the fact that they were reduced to 10 men in the first half with the game still goalless. There is plenty of reason for them to come into this game high on confidence.
Their European form has also been exceptional. They have kept eight clean sheets in 12 Champions League matches this season, including five in six games in the knockout stages. Should they hold their opponents here, they would equal the record for most clean sheets in the knockout stages in a single edition of the tournament (six – previously done by Arsenal in 2005-06).
Man City: Erling Haaland
Even though City have so many talented players in their team – let alone their squad – it is impossible to look past Erling Haaland as the player to watch on Saturday night. He has 12 Champions League goals for the season, which puts him level with Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2002-03 for most goals in a single season for an English club. He can, of course, move clear if he scores against Inter, and stopping him will be key to the Italian side’s chances.
Haaland has failed to score in his last two Champions League games, and has never before in his whole career gone three games without a goal in the competition, which is just mad, really. He could become the first Norwegian since Ole Gunnar Solksjaer in 1999 to score in a Champions League final.
Inter have a good defensive record in the competition, but they will have to be at their very best if they are to stop Haaland.
Haaland to score and the game to see under three goals is priced at 9/2 with bet365, and captures two maxims: the Norwegian is inevitable, and Inter will be a tough nut to crack.
Inter: Lautaro Martínez
Inter’s top scorer is a big-game player, and having ended the season with 11 goals in his final 13 appearances – four of which were off the bench – he comes into this game in fine form. Having won the World Cup with Argentina in December, either he or City’s Julián Álvarez could become the 10th player to win the World Cup and the European Cup in the same season having featured in both finals. The only previous players to have done so in the 21st century are Roberto Carlos (2002 with Brazil and Real Madrid) and Raphaël Varane (2018 with France and Real Madrid), and with Martínez likely to start and Álvarez probably just as likely not to get on the pitch, this is a huge opportunity for the Inter forward.
He only has three goals in 12 Champions League appearances for the season, but with City dominating possession and territory, he will play a key role in relieving pressure on his team’s defence by holding the ball up and running the channels as he always does so tirelessly. He might not touch the ball very much, but he will be key when he does.
Despite the striker’s limited haul in Europe, the Argentine does have 28 goals in all competitions for Inter this season – twice the number of Inter’s next highest scorer Romelu Lukaku (14). He’s the biggest threat for Simone Inzaghi’s side and is a generous 9/1 to open the scoring on Saturday.
Man City vs Inter Prediction
Everything – literally everything – is pointing towards a Manchester City win here. They are the best team on the planet and they’ve shown it is basically impossible for any team to contend with the football they play when they are on song. The only hope for Inter is that their opponents aren’t quite at their best, and get some key decisions wrong when the ball is in dangerous areas of the pitch. If they play anything like they can, this could be a procession.
Our supercomputer gives City a 64.6% probability of winning in 90 minutes, compared to just 16.4% for Inter. Overall on the night, City are given a 74.1% of lifting the trophy.
It will take something special for Inter to deny City the treble they are chasing.
That’s what our supercomputer thinks, but what are you saying?
Manchester City vs Inter Milan UCL Squads
Manchester City: Stefan Ortega, Ederson, Scott Carson, Kyle Walker, Rúben Dias, John Stones, Nathan Aké, Aymeric Laporte, Sergio Gómez, Manuel Akanji, Rico Lewis*, Kalvin Phillips, İlkay Gündoğan, Jack Grealish, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Máximo Perrone, Phil Foden, Cole Palmer*, Erling Haaland, Julián Álvarez.
Inter Milan: Samir Handanovič, Alex Cordaz, André Onana, Nikolaos Botis*, Denzel Dumfries, Stefan de Vrij, Raoul Bellanova, Francesco Acerbi, Federico Dimarco, Danilo D’Ambrosio, Matteo Darmian, Milan Škriniar, Mattia Zanotti*, Alessandro Fontanarosa*, Alessandro Bastoni, Roberto Gagliardini, Robin Gosens, Kristjan Asllani, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Nicolò Barella, Valentin Carboni*, Marcelo Brozović, Edin Džeko, Lautaro Martínez, Joaquín Correa, Romelu Lukaku.
*Player List B
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