Man City to bid for historic treble today in Champions League final against Inter

Did you know? Manchester City is owned by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Vice-President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (right) speaks with star striker Erling Haaland during a training session at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul. — AFP
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (right) speaks with star striker Erling Haaland during a training session at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul. — AFP


Published: Sat 10 Jun 2023, 11:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 10 Jun 2023, 11:10 AM

Manchester City and Inter Milan clash in Saturday's Champions League final in Istanbul with the English side, under Pep Guardiola, strongly fancied to win European club football's biggest prize for the first time.

The match at the 75,000-seat Ataturk Olympic Stadium, kicks off at 11 pm UAE Time in the Turkish metropolis and brings the curtain down on a season that has stretched almost into mid-June after the long interruption for the World Cup.

City have spent the last decade chasing this trophy having been transformed after it was bought by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, in 2008.

Also-rans before Sheikh Mansour arrived, City is now England's dominant force, fresh from winning a fifth Premier League title in six seasons.

Guardiola, chasing the third Champions League crown of his coaching career, has built a side that is playing arguably the finest football of any team since his great Barcelona of a decade ago.

Now City is through to their second Champions League final in three seasons, two years after losing to Chelsea in Porto, and the team is hoping to complete a treble after securing the Premier League and FA Cup.

The last English team to win that treble was Alex Ferguson's Manchester United, in 1999.

"We have been good in this competition, but we just need to find a way to win the first one," said Kevin De Bruyne on Friday.

"If we do it, it would obviously be immense for the players, for the club, and for the fans it would be something amazing."

City has become an almost irresistible force. They brushed aside RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the knockout rounds and has lost just once in 27 matches.

The goals of Erling Haaland -- 52 in all competitions -- have elevated them to another level, along with Guardiola's decision to turn centre-back John Stones into a midfielder.

Inter, while one of Europe's grand old names, should not be able to compete with City when you look at their finances.

The Nerazzurri have enormous debts and their income for last year was under half that of City.

However, it emerged from their group ahead of Barcelona before beating Porto, its first victory in a Champions League knockout tie since 2011.

They it saw off Benfica and AC Milan to reach the final. Inter has won 11 of its last 12 games and recently retained the Coppa Italia.

"We understand what they are as a team," De Bruyne said.

"They defend incredibly well. We don't expect it to be an open game. That doesn't happen a lot in a final anyway."

Having reached its first Champions League final since lifting the trophy for the third time in its history in 2010, Inter is in to win it.

"We know we have a great opportunity to write a new page in the history of our club," said coach Simone Inzaghi.

Inzaghi has a settled side, with a grizzled three-man defence, a classy midfield, flying wing-backs in Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco, and Lautaro Martinez alongside veteran ex-City striker Edin Dzeko up front.

Both sides should be at full strength, with Kyle Walker set to start for City after missing training earlier this week.

It is Inter's sixth European Cup final, but just its second in 51 years.

City's only European trophy to date came in 1970, when it won the Cup Winners' Cup, beating Poland's Gornik Zabrze 2-1 in the final.

That match was not shown on British television due to a clash with the FA Cup final replay the same night.

A huge global audience will watch Saturday's showdown, for which both clubs were officially allocated around 20,000 tickets.

It is the second Champions League final held at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, situated on the European side of the Bosphorus, 25 kilometres from central Istanbul.

Liverpool triumphed here in 2005, recovering from a three-goal deficit against Milan to draw 3-3 before winning on penalties.


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