The fascinating Istanbul, a transcontinental city between Europe and Asia, is presented as a unique setting for a Champions League final that faces two worlds: Manchester City-Inter Milan (21.00, Movistar and TVE-1). A plethoric team that aspires to the triple crown after winning the Cup and the Premier League against a squad of players who have been reborn and are facing a unique opportunity to conquer Europe. The most modern coach and who has best metabolized the classics (Pep Guardiola) against a technician capable of surviving adversity with infinite patience and unique know-how (Simone Inzaghi). And a sheikh with a lot of money (Shekih Mansour bin Zayed) against a Chinese (Steven Zhang) struggling to sustain the Milan club. Endurance and competitiveness make Inter one of the worst enemies for favourites like Haaland's City.
The 22-year-old striker aims to become the differentiating factor according to his own declaration of intent: "City have already won all the trophies without me except for the Champions League." Haaland has held back in the last seven games – scoring just one goal – after counting 52 in a season in which he has surpassed the marks of England's most reputable strikers. City's challenge is to be continental champions for the first time, runners-up against Chelsea in 2021, while Guardiola aims to win his third title in his fourth final, double winner with Barca (2009 and 2011) and loser in Porto (2021). The victory of the skybluewould also mean that they equaled the treble achieved in 1999 by their rivals United. A success only within reach before Celtic (1967), Ajax (1972), PSV (1980), Barça (2009 and 2015), Inter (2010) and Bayern Munich (2013).
The Italians have traveled camouflaged by the open part of the Champions League table. In the slipstream of Bayern, they knocked out Barça in the group stage and eliminated Porto, Benfica and Milan. The derby discovered the best Inter after going through bad times in March and April, when Inzaghi's continuity was doubted. They already have 11 victories in the last 12 meetings and have won the Cup. They play from memory with the 3-5-2 and their squad depth allows them to be a solid and homogeneous team, both physically and tactically, a candidate for victory since they have recovered the best version of Brozovic, Lautaro and Lukaku. Inter, a club that has already won the tournament three times, is packed into meeting City in its sixth final.
The personality of the nerazurri contrasts with the responsibility of the citizens before the appointment at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium. The last final played in Istanbul endorses the uncertainty: Liverpool came back in the penalty shootout three goals to Liverpool (3-3) in 2005. Guardiola's team is interested in controlling the tempo and avoiding overexcitement against a patient and selective opponent, more comfortable in a final than in a tournament of regularity like La Liga. No one disputes the superiority of Guardiola's teams on a day-to-day basis considering that they have won five of the last six Premier Leagues. The Skyblues have many records and have gained maturity and voracity since they came back from 0-2 down to Tottenham in January and began a climb that has taken them to the top of Istanbul. Guardiola, a radical cruyffista, has evolved so much that he ended up also being inspired by Chapman's WM at Arsenal.
City is today an author's team while Inter happens to be the best representative of a system that repeats itself for ever and ever and usually always works in Italy. Italians come and go; the English recently arrived and have not stopped growing to become the most valued brand with 1,510 million above Madrid.
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