Men's Team

Ake and Ederson return as City make two changes for Champions League final

Ederson and Nathan Ake both return as Manchester City make two changes for the 2023 UEFA Champions League final against Inter in Istanbul.

The Brazilian international replaces Stefan Ortega in goal while Dutch defender Ake comes in for Kyle Walker for Saturday’s biggest game of the season at the Olympic Ataturk Stadium.

They are the only changes from the side that secured FA Cup final glory against Manchester United last weekend.

Otherwise it’s as you were for City as we seek to end a quite remarkable season on the ultimate high by claiming what would be our first-ever Champions League crown – and with it the historic Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.

Teams

CITY XI: Ederson, Akanji, Stones, Dias, Ake, Rodrigo, Gundogan (c), De Bruyne, Bernardo, Grealish, Haaland

Subs: Ortega, Carson, Walker, Phillips, Laporte, Alvarez, Gomez, Mahrez, Perrone, Foden, Palmer

INTER: Onana, Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni, Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Dimarco, Martinez, Dzeko.

Subs: Handanovic, Gagliardini, de Vrij, Gosens, Correa, Bellanova, Asllani, Cordaz, Mkhitaryan, D'Ambrosio, Skriniar, Lukaku

Probable formation and tactics 

Pep Guardiola looks like to deploy a 4-3-3 formation for this evening’s huge encounter, though such is City's flexibility that could alter.

With Ederson the familiar and reassuring bulwark in goal, the Brazilian will be protected by a back four of Manuel Akanji, John Stones, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake

Rodrigo will be the holding midfielder with skipper Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne also in the engine room,

Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva will form the attacking trident with Erling Haaland City’s central striking focal point.

Ultimate end game 

Tonight marks City’s 61st competitive – and most significant - game of this most extraordinary of seasons. 

A long, gruelling campaign that began way back last July with our Community Shield clash with Liverpool – and which was interspersed with a six-week winter hiatus for the World Cup finals – will conclude here in Istanbul where Europe meets Asia. 

At stake is the game’s ultimate Club prize of the UEFA Champions League. 

And City also have the added incentive of knowing that victory tonight over Inter would secure us the coveted Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and European Cup. 

The eyes of the world will be on the Olympic Ataturk Stadium – but judging by Pep Guardiola’s demeanour at Friday’s pre-match press conference along with that of Ruben Dias and Kevin De Bruyne City are up for this. 

It promises to be a match and occasion like no other with 75,000 fans in attendance and millions more watching around the globe. 

First footing 

Amazingly, given both club’s storied history, tonight marks the first competitive meeting between Inter and Manchester City. 

It also represents the first time that the maiden competitive meeting between two sides has been in a UEFA Champions League final since Liverpool faced AC Milan in 2005. 

That game was also played at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul – and ended in victory for the English representatives. 

Let’s hope that proves an encouraging omen ahead of tonight’s encounter! 

 

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Stats and facts

English and Italian sides have met in four previous European Cup/Champions League finals, with Liverpool always the English team in the final previously. They won the competition on penalties in 1984 vs Roma and 2005 vs Milan and lost the 1985 and 2007 finals against Juventus and AC Milan respectively.

Manchester City have only appeared in two previous major European finals, beating Polish side Górnik Zabrze 2-1 in the 1970 Cup Winners’ Cup final, before losing the 2021 UEFA Champions League final 1-0 to fellow English side Chelsea.

Internazionale are featuring in their 11th major European final, the third-most of any Italian side behind Juventus (16) and AC Milan (14). It’s their first since losing 3-2 in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League final against Sevilla and only their second in the UEFA Champions League, winning 2-0 in 2010 against Bayern Munich under José Mourinho.

Manchester City are looking to become the fourth different English side to win the UEFA Champions League, after Man Utd (1999, 2008), Liverpool (2005, 2019) and Chelsea (2012, 2021), which would be the most of any nation. The current total of three is the joint-most, along with Italy (AC Milan, Juventus, Inter).

Internazionale are only the fourth side to reach the UEFA Champions League final after losing their first game of the season, along with Milan in 1994-95, Bayern Munich in 1998-99 and Tottenham in 2018-19, all of whom lost their finals. In the European Cup, the two teams to win the title after losing their first games are Real Madrid in 1965-66 and AC Milan in 1968-69.

Internazionale boss Simone Inzaghi will be the sixth different Italian to take charge of a team in a UEFA Champions League final (after Ancelotti, Capello, Lippi, Di Matteo and Allegri); the joint-most managers from a single nation to do so, along with Germany (6).

The Atatürk Olympic Stadium is the eighth stadium to host more than one UEFA Champions League final, with this its first since the 2005 final, which ended 3-3 between Liverpool and AC Milan before Liverpool won on penalties. The only other time Istanbul has hosted a major European final was the 2009 UEFA Cup final (won 2-1 by Shakhtar Donetsk vs Werder Bremen), at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.

This is Pep Guardiola’s fourth UEFA Champions League final (two with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, two with Manchester City in 2021 and 2023), with only Carlo Ancelotti managing in more (5). He’s looking to win his third title, equalling Zinedine Zidane and with only Ancelotti winning more (4), as well as become the fifth manager to win the title with two teams, after Ancelotti (AC Milan, Real Madrid), José Mourinho (FC Porto, Inter), Josef Heynckes (Bayern Munich, Real Madrid) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich).

Internazionale have kept eight clean sheets in 12 UEFA Champions League matches this season, including five in six games in the knockout stages. Should they hold their opponents to a shutout here, they would equal the record for most clean sheets in the knockout stages in a single edition of the tournament (six – previously done by Arsenal in 2005-06).

In the UEFA Champions League this season, Manchester City have recovered the ball and initiated their sequences of play at an average of 47.2 metres from their own goal – the highest up the field of any team. Internazionale, meanwhile, are the team who have done so the closest to their own goal (38.4 metres), among sides who progressed from the group stage this term.

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Jack Grealish has created 35 chances for Manchester City in this season’s UEFA Champions League, the most by an English player in a season that Opta has on record (2003-04 onwards) and most by any player since Dusan Tadic in 2018-19 for Ajax (37). Grealish has also carried the ball the furthest distance of any player (3,208m) – indeed, it is more than Inter’s top-two most prolific ball carriers combined (Nicolò Barella, 1,558m & Alessandro Bastoni, 1,228m, combined 2,786m).

Erling Haaland has scored 12 UEFA Champions League goals this season for Manchester City, the joint most by a player for an English club along with Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2002-03 for Man Utd. He’s failed to score in his last two appearances in the competition, never before going three consecutive games without a goal. The last Norwegian to score in a Champions League final was Ole Gunnar Solskjær in the 1999 final for Manchester United.

Despite only playing 144 minutes and not starting a single game in the UEFA Champions League this season, Romelu Lukaku is the only Inter player to have either scored or assisted in every round they've featured in (goal in group stage, goal in round of 16, goal in quarter-final, assist in semi-final). The only player to start a Champions League final having not started a game prior to that in the season was Ryan Bertrand in 2012 for Chelsea.

Based on the quality of shots on target faced, Internazionale’s André Onana has prevented the most goals of any goalkeeper in the UEFA Champions League this season (7.8 – nine conceded from 16.8 xG on target). Indeed, he could equal the record for most clean sheets by a goalkeeper in a single UEFA Champions League campaign (currently on eight), which was most recently achieved by Édouard Mendy in 2020-21 (9).

Having won the World Cup with Argentina in December, either Manchester City's Julián Álvarez or Inter's Lautaro Martínez could become the 10th player to win the World Cup and the European Cup in the same season having featured in both finals. The only previous players to have done so in the 21st century are Roberto Carlos (2002 with Brazil and Real Madrid) and Raphaël Varane (2018 with France and Real Madrid).

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