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Complete the title: Ilkay Gundogan must lift the Champions Cup | Israel Hayom


Highlights: Ilkay Gundogan's contract at Manchester City is up at the end of the season. The German midfielder is expected to leave the club in the summer. Gundogan is hoping to become City's first captain to lift the Champions League trophy. He is also hoping to complete a historic treble win at the Etihad Stadium. The midfielder was born 32 and a half years ago in Gelsenkirchen. His family immigrated to Germany from Turkey, and although he chose to play for Mannschaft, he always reminds him of his roots.

The Champions League final has become a frustrating occasion for the German midfielder, especially after he had already arrived as favourites in the past, but did not win it • Just before parting ways with Manchester City he could become a historic player - if only he beats Inter tomorrow

In June 2016, Pep Guardiola began coaching Manchester City. The first player to sign was German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. On Saturday night, exactly seven years after arriving, Gundo hopes to become City's first captain to lift the Champions League trophy - and complete a historic treble win.

City have bigger stars, such as top scorer Erling Haaland and assists Kevin De Bruyne, but for Pep, the quiet, stardust-free German is irreplaceable. He is doing everything possible to keep him at the club even though the midfielder's contract is expiring and the demand for him is great. At first it looked like he was on his way to Barcelona, but in recent days Arsenal have been stepping up the pressure.

"You may not know, but we've been friends for many years. We live on the same floor," Pep said of Gundogan after the FA Cup win thanks to the latter's pairing for Manchester United. He emphasized that the relationship between the two goes beyond coach to player, and this was evident even before the wave, when they hugged for a long time, with tears in their eyes.

Gundogan and the FA Cup. Waiting for the bigger hoist, Photo: AP

"He's one of the best players I've ever coached, in terms of the whole package. He's so smart and competitive. Even when he's under pressure, he's the calmest in the world," Pep praised Gondo on another occasion.

Just before the start

The two, since arriving together at City, have 11 titles, including five titles, but the most important title awaits them on Saturday night. To win it, for the first time in the club's history, they need to beat Inter in the final.

For Gundoğan, there could be no more perfect closure than hoisting the trophy with the big ears in Istanbul, since his family immigrated to Germany from Turkey, and although he chose to play for Mannschaft, he always reminds him that his roots lie in Turkey.

Ilkay was born 32 and a half years ago in Gelsenkirchen. When he was 18, he signed for Nuremberg, where he collaborated for one season with Israeli midfielder Almog Cohen. Together they finished 6th in the Bundesliga. In the summer of 2011, Gundogan moved to Dortmund and also received his first call-up to the German national team. By that point, he was one of the best midfielders in the league.

Gundogan. A spike in numbers, photo: AFP

In his first season under Jurgen Klopp he won the title and in the second reached the Champions League final. Despite scoring a penalty in the final at Wembley, Bayern Munich won 1-2, and it was not his last defeat in the Champions League final. Gundogan has also endured several serious injuries in his career, including the one that ruled him out of the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. Thus he missed an opportunity to become a world champion.

Then came Pep. While coaching Bayern Munich, Pep recognised in the hardworking midfielder the type of player he would like in the new team he was building at City, and at the beginning of his career in the blue uniform Gundogan was a midfielder, one who does a lot of work, but without too many goals and assists.

Third time, trophy?

The big change came when Pep asked Gundogan to play a little higher and threaten the goal more. It took some time, but in the 2020/2021 season he scored 17 goals and added 21 more in the next two seasons. 38 goals in three years, compared to 22 in the previous four years, is a piece of improvement.

And these weren't just any gates. In last season's finale, City were 2-0 behind at home to Aston Villa, fifteen minutes into the finale, and it looked as if the title would run away at the last minute and Liverpool would be crowned. But then Gundogan came on as a substitute, scoring a quick goal that started the comeback. He was also the one who scored the third goal, which resulted in a dramatic championship.

Now Gundogan's task is, of course, to win the Champions League final. Like two years ago, they reach this position as favourites, but then, against Chelsea, the manager gave up a real back midfielder - and that was a fatal mistake. Chelsea won, and "Gundo" recorded a second defeat on this occasion.

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In Turkey, the land of his ancestors, he will arrive on Saturday as captain for the third attempt to win the prestigious trophy. This will probably be his last game for City, and if he is up to the task at Inter's expense, Ilkay Gundogan will become a historic player.

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Source: israelhayom

All sports articles on 2023-06-09

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