2023 Champions League: Final
From the 78 teams who qualified at the end of last season, we’re down to the final two who will do battle in Istanbul for the coveted Champions League title. Reigning Premier League Champions Manchester City will be looking to claim their first ever European Cup, and secure the treble in the process. In their road however, are Italian powerhouse Inter Milan who despite a relatively disappointing Serie A season, are looking to claim their third Champions League trophy, the last coming in 2010 under Jose Mourinho.
Not many are giving Inter a chance, but given the stakes, anything could happen. With that said, let’s try find the winner!
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 5, 2023
It’s hard to argue against the fact that Manchester City are the best team in world football right now. It seems they’re at the peak of their powers, and Pep Guardiola has timed their run to perfection. A 2-1 win over Manchester United saw them etch a step closer to the treble, and most of the football fraternity tend to think that come full-time on Sunday morning (AEST), they will have secured it in its entirety.
Similar to their FA Cup Final, Manchester City are firm favourites heading into this, currently $1.42 favourites on Wishbet. We know the script for Manchester City will be to control the game, with the bulk of possession and eventually wear Inter down. This is the brand of play we saw dismantle Champions League specialists Real Madrid in the Semi-Finals. It was not even close between the two, especially in their second leg, and any performance even close to that would see them run riot over a side like Inter.
The importance of unsung hero John Stones can’t be understated in this clash, who has adopted a new role of central-midfield/centre-back hybrid and added a new dimension to City’s play. His role in overloading certain areas of the field is a tactic no opponent has been able to combat yet and will again be crucial if City are to win here. Speaking of added dimensions, the partnership of Erling Haaland and De Bruyne will be so important in trying to break down a compact Inter defensive unit, along with the help of technicians Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva and Gundogan.
It’s no secret that there is a special spot left in the trophy cabinet for the Champions League Cup in Manchester, a Cup that has alluded them for numerous seasons now. While banging on the door, this is just their second final. They may never get a better chance than this, and as the game wears on, if things aren’t going to plan, then the pressure could be telling. This could play as much as an opposition as Inter Milan. Further to this, their record away from the Etihad in this competition is also a concern.
City have their work cut out but are deserving favourites. Anything like they produced against Real Madrid will see them clinch their first Champions League title and the treble – cementing themselves as one of the best football sides of all time.
Few would’ve predicted Inter to do as well as they have this Champions League campaign. A soft draw that saw them face Porto, Benfica and AC Milan has a part to play in that, but their form carried through the last few months warranted a flight to Istanbul. Their form has brought on a swagger needed to take down a side like City or at least put themselves in the battle with the right plan in place.
Inter’s blueprint in this game will be pretty straightforward, and not too dissimilar to what we saw Manchester United attempt in the FA Cup Final – absorb the pressure for as long as possible, frustrate City as much as possible and hit on the break. It didn’t quite work for United, but Inter showed in their semi-final legs and the Copa Italia final against Fiorentina that they can be organised, resilient and dangerous on the counter.
They do this by playing with a back five anchored by 35-year-old veteran Francesco Acerbi and former United defender Matteo Darmian. They have the job of containing Haaland and any service coming his way via City’s endless avenues. At the other end of the pitch, they play with two genuine forwards shared between Martinez, Lukaku and Dzeko, who look to occupy one central defender each. It’s an aggressive style that City is not used to dealing with and makes for an exciting match-up.
Lautaro Martinez holds the key for Inter. Inter is likely to get few chances, with him being the end of most. His clinical best will punish City, but he has also shown tendencies to be wasteful in big pressure moments – like the World Cup final. Putting that aside, he is a good bet for anyone looking to play goal-scorer markets and favour Inter’s chances.
Inter are a fitting finalist. I think they are the best team suited to beat Manchester City in a one-off occasion, and I wouldn’t at all be shocked to see them jag a result. Given their credentials, $4.60 to lift the Cup is an attractive price.
— Inter (@Inter) June 6, 2023
Tip: Manchester City and Draw + Both Teams to Score (Yes)
Manchester City are well poised to win this, but could be caused some problems in the process. This doubles play is our best chance at covering both.