Many experts are dismissing the Nerazzurri before the match on Saturday in Istanbul, but a huge upset is still possible.
Simone Inzaghi turned down a request to estimate Inter’s likelihood of winning the Champions League final earlier this week. He would have wasted his time doing it. He and his team are already well cognizant of the magnitude of the challenge in Istanbul. Right now, all they have to figure out is how to get through it.
Inzaghi told reporters on Monday, “We know we’re going to meet the strongest team in the world, which has won the Premier League five times in the last six years.” They have an outstanding team and a legendary coach. There is a Pep Guardiola before and after in contemporary football.
And the Catalan will now solidify his position as the best coach in the world by winning his first Champions League without the assistance of the greatest player of all time, Lionel Messi, in the eyes of many, many neutrals. Some others even think that City’s success is inevitable and that Inter have “no chance” of defeating a squad that Fabio Capello has said has “no weaknesses.”
While Guardiola’s treble-chasing side is undoubtedly the best the Premier League has ever seen, they are not unbeatable.
GOAL explains why Inter can accomplish the seemingly unthinkable by shocking City (and the entire footballing world) on Saturday night in the paragraphs below.
Anything might happen because it’s a one-time game!
Man City are the clear favorites heading into the championship game—some bookmakers have them as low as 1/6—and that is very reasonable. We’re talking about a starting lineup that will likely force Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, and Julian Alvarez to settle for the bench.
Their higher class would finally show when standing on two legs. It undoubtedly did in the demolition of Real Madrid in the semifinals, and not even the most ardent Inter fan would contest that Simone Inzaghi has, at least on paper, a stronger roster than Carlo Ancelotti.
But even though it sounds cliché, former Inter midfielder Paul Ince was correct when he told the Gazzetta dello Sport that “Anything can happen” in this one-off encounter. In football, your preconceived notions are frequently proven wrong in the end. When I say anything can happen, I really mean it. A single error, a ball bouncing this way or that, someone having a horrible day, a VAR ruling.
Simone Inzaghi: expert in championship games
Of all, Inzaghi, who has established himself as somewhat of a specialist in one-off matches, is the actual reason why Inter supporters are subtly upbeat about pulling off the biggest Champions League final upset in almost 20 years.
The 2016-17 Coppa Italia final against Juventus was the former Lazio manager’s first defeat, although he has since won seven straight games, including all four of his opponents during his first two seasons at Inter.
The Nerazzurri didn’t play especially well in last month’s Coppa Italia final victory against Fiorentina, for instance, but his coaching credentials are now without doubt. He has benefited from a little bit of luck along the road.
The 3-5-2 arrangement can be important.
Emanuele Giaccherini, a DAZN analyst and former Italy player, recommended Inzaghi to target Manchester City out wide based on what he had seen in the FA Cup final earlier in the day after Inter finished their Serie A campaign with a 1-0 victory at Torino last Saturday.
After City’s 2-1 victory over Manchester United, Giaccherini observed that “their wingers are unfamiliar with defending inside their own penalty area.” They immediately attempt to recover the ball, but they struggle in their own box when under siege.
Pushing Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva that far back is obviously easier said than done, but simply because of the design of Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 formation, Federico Dimarco and Denzel Dumfries will be able to attack the space behind the City duo when Inter have the ball as well as apply immediate pressure to them.
The danger of a counterattack by Inter
There has been a lot of emphasis on what Inter must do to stop City, but very little on how they can harm them. To some extent, that makes sense. City, led by Erling Haaland, are the competition’s best scorers with 31 goals, while Inter has recorded the most shutouts (8).
Guardiola certainly has access to a ludicrous number of offensive stars, but Inter are far from lacking in attacking threat, especially when they break. The Nerazzurri have some significant firepower, as City icon Sergio Aguero has already signaled, and it should be acknowledged.
As he has repeatedly demonstrated in Milan derbies and most recently with his two goals in Inter’s victory against Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia final, Lautaro Martinez is Inter’s danger man for the big moment.
Despite his lackluster performance at the World Cup, the Argentine is in superb form, having already tallied a career-high 28 goals across all competitions this season.
Inzaghi, an underappreciated midfielder, must start Marcelo Brozovic alongside Lukaku in addition to selecting the latter over Dzeko.
There will be pressure to put Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who was in excellent form prior to getting hurt, back in the middle of the field with Hakan Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella if he is given the all-clear to play.
After an injury-disrupted year that was undoubtedly impacted by the World Cup, Brozovic is finally back to something close to his best, just like Lukaku, after a campaign that was interrupted by injury.
It’s assumed that City will have the advantage in possession, but with Brozovic on board, Inter would have the capacity to consistently win the ball back and make good use of it. especially if the talented Barella is at her best.
The city is under intense pressure.
There doesn’t seem to be much risk of the city camp becoming complacent. Guardiola is too talented to permit it to occur. For all the confidence you see in players like Haaland, this isn’t a particularly arrogant collection of competitors.
The worst that can happen, according to Guardiola, is that people will think we are favorites since it’s a final against an Italian team. But there is one remarkable quality about this team of which I’m most proud: they are incredibly humble. They take every game seriously because they are so humble, regardless of the opponent.
And they’ll treat this game with greater seriousness than any other. But even that can provide a problem. Make no mistake: City is under a ton of pressure going into this game, and, to be fair, pressure affects players and coaches funny.