Champions League final: Man City vs Inter – meet the teams
UEFA.com profiles 2022/23 UEFA Champions League finalists Manchester City and Inter.
UEFA coefficient ranking: 1
This season: W7 D5 L0 F31 A5
Group G: Winners
Round of 16: W 8-1agg vs Leipzig
Quarter-finals: W 4-1agg vs Bayern
Semi-finals: W 5-1agg vs Real Madrid
Last final appearance: 2021 (L 0-1 vs Chelsea)
Last season: Semi-finals (L 5-6agg vs Real Madrid)
Best European Cup performance: Runners-up (2020/21)
Campaign so far
City wasted little time in securing their place in the knockout stage for the tenth successive season, but it wasn’t all plain sailing for Pep Guardiola’s star-studded ensemble. They needed a spectacular winner from the prolific Erling Haaland to complete the turnaround against Dortmund in September before playing over an hour with ten men in a goalless draw at Copenhagen.
After a quiet display in the last-16 first leg against Leipzig, Haaland hit a record-breaking five goals in the return before adding two more to his tally in an emphatic last-eight triumph against Bayern. The goals came from elsewhere in the semi-finals, and City were perhaps as impressive as ever as they cruised past holders Real Madrid 5-1 on aggregate.
Road to the final: Every Man City goal
Why they can go all the way
City have one of the game’s most astute tacticians, phenomenal strength in depth and one of the best strikers of his generation at their disposal. Why shouldn’t they lift the trophy in Istanbul in June? There are no guarantees in a competition where fine margins so often prove decisive, but Guardiola’s team fear no one. With Lady Luck on their side, a maiden Champions League crown could be just around the corner.
How do Man City play?
John Stones’ role as part of a double pivot when City have possession – which is the majority of the time – has enabled Guardiola’s team to exert even greater levels of control in games. Pinning opponents in their own half with a high defensive line, City circulate the ball with trademark ease until the relentless pressure finally tells. Unlike last season, when Guardiola often operated with a false nine, the Cityzens now have arguably the most prolific focal point in the game to finish off their free-flowing moves.
Coach: Josep Guardiola
One of the most decorated coaches in world football, the 52-year-old won this competition twice with Barcelona but will be desperate to end his 12-year wait for a third triumph. Scooped three league titles apiece at the helm of the Catalan club and Bayern, and made it four Premier League winners’ medals with City in 2021/22.
Key player: Kevin De Bruyne
Haaland would be the obvious choice – 51 goals this season makes him pretty influential, after all – but De Bruyne remains a talismanic figure, contributing a constant supply of chances for the relentless Norwegian. The 31-year-old midfielder has assisted 28 goals in all competitions this term – his most in a single campaign for the club. The Belgian also has a habit of rising to the big occasion, with 11 of his 14 Champions League goals for City coming in the knockout stages.
Did you know?
At 22 years 272 days old and after only 27 games, Haaland was both the youngest and the quickest player to reach 35 Champions League goals.
Erling Haaland: Every Champions League goal this season
UEFA coefficient ranking: 10
This season: W7 D3 L2 F19 A10
Group C: Runners-up
Round of 16: W 1-0agg vs Porto
Quarter-finals: W 5-3agg vs Benfica
Semi-finals: W 3-0agg vs Milan
Last final appearance: 2010 (W 2-0 vs Bayern)
Last season: Round of 16 (L 1-2agg vs Liverpool)
Best European Cup performance: Winners (1963/64, 1964/65, 2009/10)
Campaign so far
While Inter have struggled for consistency in Serie A, the Nerazzurri have consistently performed in the Champions League. They qualified from a strong group including Bayern and Barcelona and have now reached the final after eliminating Porto, Benfica and Milan. They have put in six solid knockout stage performances, keeping five clean sheets in the process, and more than merited their 3-0 aggregate victory over their city rivals.
Every Inter goal on their road to the Champions League final
Why they can go all the way
Because this Inter side seemed designed to produce their best in big games. Just watch their results in all competitions in 2023. The Nerazzurri have often lost against lower-ranked teams in Serie A, but have always performed against the top sides. The game in Istanbul will be one of the biggest in the club’s history.
How do Inter play?
The system is a 3-5-2, where wing-backs, namely Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco, are required to cover the entire flank. One of the three midfielders is a deep-lying playmaker: Hakan Çalhanoğlu is now preferred to Marcelo Brozović for this role. The two other midfielders, Nicolò Barella and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, lead the pressing and support the attackers. Edin Džeko and Romelu Lukaku are alternating as attacking partners for Lautaro Martínez to great effect. A nice dilemma for Simone Inzaghi in Istanbul.
Coach: Simone Inzaghi
A Serie A and three-time Coppa Italia winner as a player with Lazio, the 46-year-old also brought a domestic cup to Rome during his five seasons in charge. Took over from Antonio Conte in 2021, winning the domestic Super Cup and Coppa Italia in his first campaign at the helm.
Key player: Lautaro Martínez
Nicknamed ‘The Bull’, Martínez ended the 2021/22 campaign with 25 goals in 49 appearances across all competitions – his best haul since arriving in Milan from Racing Club in 2018. Formed a prolific partnership with Lukaku, who returned from Chelsea but did not play much in the first half of the season due to injury. The pair combined expertly for Martínez’s second-leg winner against Milan.
Did you know?
Inzaghi could become the first Italian coach to lead Inter to European glory. The Nerazzurri’s previous triumphs in the competition were under Helenio Herrera (1964 and 1965) and José Mourinho (2010).
2010 highlights: Inter’s last Champions League glory