One. Two. And soon three? After winning the title of champion of England, under the nose and beard of Arsenal, then the FA Cup against its Mancunian rival last Saturday (2-1), Manchester City has the opportunity, this Saturday (21h) in Istanbul, against Inter Milan, to achieve a historic treble by lifting the Champions League. "We feel like it's the end of the season. Sometimes it's a bit hard. But we are doing everything to be ready this Saturday. We know that the season is already exceptional for us, we have already won the Premier League and the Cup. To have another chance to win the Champions League is incredible, "said Kevin De Bruyne, the master of the Skyblues, at the microphone of RTL Sports.
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A difficult task
However, the task will be difficult. Indeed, even if they do not start (absolutely) favorites, the Nerazzurri have shown that they are able to defy the odds. They did it in the group stage by winning at home against FC Barcelona (1-0) as well as in the semifinals during which they managed to win twice against their rivals Milan (0-2, 0-1). Moreover, the Lombard formation approaches this final without any complex: "It is a football match, there is no fear to have. We respect them a lot, but we are proud to play this final because we wanted it with all our strength, "assured in a pre-match press conference Simone Inzaghi, the interim coach.
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Either way, Mancunians don't need to be warned. In recent seasons, they have learned the hard way that the favourites - and those who offer the most beautiful football - do not always win. We remember in particular their elimination in the quarterfinals of the "Final 8", in 2019-2020, against Olympique Lyonnais (1-3). So they shouldn't underestimate their opponents. Pep Guardiola explained: "Of course we are confident and optimistic, but, at the same time, I can not deny the qualities and strengths of the opposing team. I've never done that, especially in the Champions League final.»
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A title that would crown a rather exceptional era
If they win this Saturday at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Erling Haaland and his teammates would go down in football history. On the one hand, because they would allow Manchester City to win their first Champions League. On the other hand, because they would enter the (very) restricted club of teams that have achieved the fabulous triple championship-national cup-C1; so far, only Celtic Glasgow, Ajax Amsterdam, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, FC Barcelona (twice), Inter Milan and FC Bayern Munich (twice) have achieved this.
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Moreover, this European title, the most beautiful, would crown an era for the least exceptional. Since the club was bought by the United Arab Emirates in 2008, the Citizens have become one of the best teams on the planet. They have won seven editions of the Premier League, three of the FA Cup, six of the League Cup and three of the Community Shield. Remarkable... However, to enter the court of the (very) greats, they still need to win a Champions League, a trophy that they caressed with their finger but that they let slip at the end of May 2021 (defeat in the final against Chelsea 0-1). "I think the eight years here at Manchester City have been incredible when you see all the titles won. We also know that the Champions League is the only one we haven't won yet. I'm not too interested in possibly signing this treble," De Bruyne told RTL Sports. Before relativizing: "After, we can talk about it if we manage to win, or not, Saturday. At the end of the day, we can be very happy with this season anyway. We'll do what we can." But will it be enough to (finally) lift the Cup with big ears?