Manchester City will be looking to become European champions for the first time and only the second team in English football to complete the Treble as they collide with Inter Milan at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.
Pep Guardiola’s side have already completed the double, winning the Premier League and the FA Cup.
It’s the second time in the last three years that City have reached the Champions League final, the last time being a 1-0 loss to Chelsea in 2020-21.
“We just need to find a way to win the first one,” Kevin De Bruyne told BBC Radio 5 Live.Embed from Getty Images
“If we could do that, it would be immense for the players, the club and the fans.”
Their rivals Manchester United are the only other English side to have completed the Treble – achieving it in 1998/99.
City head into the game having lost just one of their last 26 matches in all competitions and also going unbeaten in Europe this season, winning seven out of 12.
Guardiola is looking for his first European trophy since 2011 when he won it with Barcelona, with whom he also won a treble two years prior.
At first glance, his City side look even better than his Barcelona one in 2008-09 – that side only lost once en route to the final and scored 32 goals and conceded 13 while City, with one game left, have scored 31 goals and conceded just five.
When asked about his past success, Guardiola stated: “I had [Lionel] Messi in the past and [Erling] Haaland now. This is my success. I am not joking, this is the truth.”
Inter, then under Jose Mourinho, knocked Guardiola’s Barcelona out in the semi-finals before winning their own treble in 2010, but this meeting is their first with City.
“This is the finish. The Champions League is an incredible competition,” added Guardiola. “It’s absolutely a dream, yes.
“To achieve things you always have to have the correct proportion of obsession and desire. It’s a positive word, willingness to try to do it, of course.”
Manchester City are the favourites against three-time winners Inter, who finished third in Serie A and won the Coppa Italia for a second successive season.
Inter, however, are not to be underestimated, they’ve kept eight clean sheets in 12 matches, which is the highest in the tournament, with goalkeeper Andre Onana their best performer.
Simone Inzaghi’s side also boasts a potent strike force. Led by Lautauro Martinez, who has 28 goals and 11 assists in 58 games, former City striker Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku – who is yet to start a game in Europe this season – to rely on.
“It’s my most important ever match, but I believe that’s also the case for my players, because we have players like Dzeko and Onana who have played in semi-finals,” Inzaghi said.Embed from Getty Images
“It repays all our effort as it’s been a long, hard year.”
Argentina forward Martinez added: “I hope we can turn in a great performance, get a result and take the trophy to Milan. It’s a huge dream for us. It’s a very difficult one to fulfill but we are one step away.
“Personality is paramount. You must put all your heart into it, you have to have the will. We’ve brought that kind of spirit back to Inter, it had been missing for a while. I ask for personality and courage from us.”
Erling Haaland has had a stunning first season in English football.
He has broken the Premier League record for most goals in a season with 36 and has scored 52 times in all competitions, averaging a goal every 78 minutes.
The Norway international has been named the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) men’s footballer of the year and is the first player to win the Premier League player and young player of the year awards in the same season.
Haaland’s minutes per goal ratio in the Champions League currently stands at 63 minutes, if you include his spells with City, Borussia Dortmund, and Red Bull Salzburg.
He failed to score in the semi-finals, making his longest drought just two games, but his 12 goals are the joint most in the competition for an English club alongside Ruud Van Nistelrooy for Manchester United in 2002-03.
When asked if he was worried about Haaland’s drought, Guardiola responded: “If you have doubts about Erling Haaland scoring goals, you are a lonely person.
“I don’t have any doubts. He will be ready to help us win the Champions League.”
Haaland is looking to become just the second ever Norweigan player to score in a Champions League final since Ole Gunnar Solskjær, whose famous goal won United the trophy in 1999.
“This is why they bought me of course, to get this, we don’t have to hide that,” Haaland told BBC sports editor Dan Roan.
“It would mean everything. I will do everything I possibly can to try to make it happen. It’s my biggest dream and hopefully dreams do come true.”
According to the head of sports analysis at Nielsen’s Gracenote Simon Gleave, Manchester City’s chance of winning the final is 74.5% and they are ranked top of Nielsen Gracenote’s Euro Club Index, while Inter are ranked eighth.
“I was in Milan on Monday and the players were very relaxed,” said Italian football expert James Horncastle on the Euro Leagues podcast.
“The main question is, are you being underestimated? It seems the final has already been won. They didn’t expect to be here and there is a lot less pressure on them.
“For Inter, they were laughing, joking. [It’s] maybe not a free hit but they go into it in a really good frame of mind.”Embed from Getty Images
Despite this, European football expert Guillem Balgue has insisted that City are taking nothing for granted.
“This idea that Manchester City believe this is a done deal comes more from the pundits and fans,” he told BBC Sport. “But Manchester City have a bunch of fears relating to this game.
“Inter don’t need to have the ball and defend much better than Manchester United. The word that has been repeated the most in the camp is ‘patience’ and just keep trying.
“It is going to be a very hard game, that is how it has been analysed. They are being very respectful.”
Manchester City made light work of the group stage, finishing unbeaten at the top of Group G and five points clear of second-place Borussia Dortmund.
Guardiola’s side won all their games at the Etihad Stadium, while beating Sevilla home and away en route to the last 16.
There they would meet German side RB Leipzig, once again highlighting their strength at home with a 7-1 demolition – in which Haaland scored five – helping them progress 8-1 on aggregate.
The quarter-finals daw them draw Bayern Munich. A 3-0 win at the Etihad ensured City had one foot in the semi-finals. They then drew 1-1 in Germany to ensure progression.Embed from Getty Images
The semi-final saw them play 14-time winners Real Madrid, who had knocked them out at this same stage last season. The first leg in Spain ended 1-1 before City’s emphatic home form came to fruition as they won 4-0 to reach the final.
Two defeats in their six group games saw Inter Milan finish second in Group C behind Bayern Munich but they finished above Barcelona after beating them 1-0 at home and drawing 3-3 in Spain.
The knockout stage saw them overcome Porto and Benfica to set up a semi-final meeting with fierce rivals AC Milan.
Two goals in the first 11 minutes saw them fire their way into a 2-0 lead after the first leg and they won the second leg 1-0 to progress 3-0 on aggregate.
Since the dawn of the Champions League era in 1992-93, they are just the fourth team to reach the final after losing their opening game – following in the footsteps of AC Milan in 1994-95, Bayern Munich in 1998-99, and Tottenham in 2018-19. However, they will be aware that history could well repeat itself, as all three of these teams ended up losing their respective final.
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