In praise of Phil Foden
Barney Ronay: The first-half substitute gives Manchester City something they lacked and starts the move that led to Rodri’s winner against Inter.
Gallery: The best pictures from Istanbul on a night when Manchester City won the Champions League and sealed an historic treble.
Champions League tactical analysis
Jonathan Wilson: Some tactical tweaks are not overthinking – they’re just thinking, and the Manchester City manager’s decisions paid off.
Player ratings from Istanbul ...
A rock-solid performance from Ederson and City’s back four outshone their attack while Inter’s Bastoni contained Haaland. Jamie Jackson doles out his marks out of 10 from Istanbul …
More from Pep: “It was written in the stars,” he says. “It belongs to us. We weren’t at our best level. After the World Cup the team made a step forward and we were there. It wasn’t our best performance.”
|On what comes next: “I don’t have any energy to think about next season, it’s impossible. We need a break, it’s too long. Our players have international games now. Uefa and Fifa, think about it. The Premier League finished two or three weeks ago, now people have to come back. It’s too much. We will start from zero next season.”
Pep Guardiola speaks ...
He’s asked how he’s feeling: “Tired, calm, satisfied of course … this fucking trophy, it’s so difficult to win it,” he says, before going on to sing the praises of Inter. “It’s a question of being patient and you have to be lucky. At the end, Ederson … he could have missed it, they could have been level. This competition is a coin-toss.”
Kyle Walker: Having said how happy he is and that winning tonight is a dream come true, Kyle Walker addresses the elephant in the room. No, not that elephant, the other one, specifically his omission from tonight’s starting line-up.
“I’m always going to be disappointed when I’m not playing,” he says. “I’m 33 now and my example sets on to the younger lads so I made a speech before they went out. I was true to my words and it wax emotional but this lcub means so much to me. I’ve been here six years now but to give me what it’s given me and for me to have experienced the experiences that I’ve experienced, I’ll be forever in debt to them.” He goes on to say that he told the players “My dream is your hands … so no pressure!”
Kevin De Bruyne: Forced off injured in his second successive Champions League final, Kevin De Bruyne has been talking to City’s unpaid propaganda wing. “It has been a hard two months,” he says. “I had a lot of problems with my hamstring and it snapped. The team was good enough, though, and we won. We have been working so long for this, it is amazing. We have not lost in the Champions League this year. It was not the best game but now is the time to celebrate.”
A word on BT Sport’s coverage: As assorted presenters, pundits and reporters supplicate themselves before City’s players, pretending to be their best mates during the post-match celebrations, it’s worth noting that the coverage British viewers have been forced to endure tonight has been embarrassingly poor. It’s no surprise as it’s what we’ve come to expect from – with a couple of notable exceptions – these excessively earnest, largely humourless, pompom-waving sycophants.
For hours now, we’ve been forced to watch and listen to fawning, jingoistic, completely uncritical coverage of City in which not a single mention of the 115 charges of financial rule-breaking they face has been made by anyone on screen.
Now I’m not saying they should lead their coverage with a deep-dive but they could at least acknowledge and briefly discuss the fact – and it is a fact whether City fans like it or not – that any success achieved by their team currently comes accompanied by a rather large asterisk. Anyway, rant over – let’s dismantle the soapbox and get back to the fun …
John Stones: When asked what tonight’s celebrations will entail, Stones tells BT Sport that “I’ve been selected for doping [a drugs test] so that’s a great start to the night for me.” He’ll need to get a few bottles of water down his neck to chivvy the process along or he could be waiting all night to pee.
The trophy: We saw footage of the trophy being engraved and I can confirm with some disappointment that the man in charge of the etching did not complete his work with what would have been the bantertastic inclusion of an asterisk.
Anyway, City’s players are now parading the cup around the side of the pitch and have been joined on the pitch by their nearest and dearest, including wives, girlfriends, children and parents.
Ilkay Gundogan: “Today we made history,” says City’s captain in an interview with BT Sport. “It was difficult for both teams. We weren’t at our best in the first half. We were hesitating. We knew we had to do better in the second. It was probably a 50-50 game. We feel very fortunate it was for us. We knew everyone was talking about the Treble. The pressure was there but this team is built to handle the pressure in the best possible way.”
Match report: Manchester City 1-0 Inter
Champions League final: For Manchester City, it was the crowning glory, the trophy that they have craved to complete the ultimate set,” writes David Hytner from the Ataturk Stadium. Read on …
Ilkay Gundogan lifts the trophy!
Surrounded by his jubilant teammates, City’s captain lifts the trophy following what could be his final game for the club. The Champions League anthem blares out over the Tannoy and funnily enough, on this occasion, Manchester City’s fans elect not to drown it out with boos and jeers.
City's players make their way on to the podium ...
Ederson is first up and his teammates follow, many of them kissing old Big Ears on their way past. No, silly, not Gary Lineker; he’s not there because he doesn’t work for BT Sport any more.
The presentation ceremony is under way
Led by Simone Inzaghi, Inter’s crestfallen players troop up on to the podium to collect their losers’ medals. For a team that many considered to be cannon fodder, they played very well tonight and gave City plenty to think about. Romelu Lukaku will have nightmares about his late miss when, with the entire goal at his mercy from three or four yards out, he gave Ederson a chance to keep his bullet header out.
Jack Grealish is in tears: “It’s what you work your whole life for, innit?” he blubs into the microphone of BT Sport’s Jake Humphrey, a sentiment he seems to echo every time Manchester City win a trophy. “I’m just so happy, man,” he continues. “They played so good today and I was awful but I don’t care. To win the treble with these players and staff, it’s just so special.”
Some post-match reaction from Rodri
“I’m emotional,” says the scorer of City’s winner in a post-match chat with BT Sport. “This is a dream come true. All these guys around here, waiting 20, 30, 40 years … I have been here just four years but they deserve; I deserve. In the last years we were so close.” He goes on to blow a kiss towards heaven to thank God and says “this is a dream come true for all of us”.
Rodri on Inter: “It wasn’t easy,” he says. “I mean, what a team we faced. It was uneblievable the way they defended, the way they counter-attacked. They deserve also credit because they are a great team but I don’t want to forget about my lads. I wasn’t good in the first half, I was playing shit to be honest. And then I just said to myself you have to overcome this mentality and I scored the goal.”
Full time: Manchester City 1-0 Inter
City are champions! Rodri got the only goal of the game, while Ederson pulled off two stunning saves at the death to repel Inter as they went in search of a late equaliser. The Brazilian had looked off his game earlier in the evening but really came up trumps when it mattered.
Manchester City are champions of Europe
It’s all over at the Ataturk Stadium! Manchester City have won the Champions League and completed their league, FA Cup and European Cup treble. They came up against formidable opposition in the form of Inter but have prevailed thanks to Rodri’s second-half strike. Fittingly enough, it was the most Manchester City-under-Pep style goal that you will ever see.
90+6 min: Oh my! Dimarco sends the corner to the near post, I think it’s RObin Gosens who gets the flick and Ederson saves superbly. That’s your lot, City are champions!
90+5 min: Bellanova has a cross deflected behind for an Inter corner.
90+4 min: Ederson is booked for time-wasting and moments later he charges off his line and leaps high to confidently claim an Onana free-kick from deep that was dropping into the City penalty area. Great goalkeeping.
90+2 min: We’re into five minutes of added time and Erling Haaland and Onana are both booked for something or other. No doubt wondering how he missed with his bullet header from four yards, Lukaku sends a shot from way further out wide.
88 min: It’s an ASTONISHING save from Ederson, who somehow shuffles across his line to save a Lukaku header from point-blank range with his knee. Brozovic’s cross from the right was headed across the face of goal by Gosens and Ederson somehow parried it. The ball broke to Dias, who did extremely well to steer the ball out for a corner with his header, contorting his body to avoid putting the ball into his own net. That is an amazing save. And a dreadful miss.
87 min: Mkhitaryan tries to play the ball up the right touchline for Inter but his delivery is cut out by Nathan Ake.
84 min: Inter substitutions: Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Danilo D’Ambrosio come on for Calhanoglu and Darmian.
82 min: Romelu Lukaku is booked for a tackle from behind on Gundogan.
81 min: While that free-kick was being taken, John Stones got in a tussle with Robin Gosens and ended up with a massive rip down the side of his shirt. City substitution: Kyle Walker on for Stones, who has had a terrific game.
80 min: Having dropped him from the starting line-up, Pep Guardiola is really riffing on Kyle Walker’s pain. The defender has been stripped down to his kit and waiting to come on for the best part of 10 minutes. City free-kick, wide on the right for a Brozovic indiscretion. Onana gathers Gundogan’s delivery comfortably.
77 min: Phil Foden shows some nifty footwork to drag the ball past a defender and accelerate into the Inter penalty area. He telegraphs his intention to shoot into the bottom right-hand corner from 10 yards out. Onana gets down to save.
75 min: Manchester City curl a free-kick into the Inter penalty area but it’s headed clear. Inter substitutions: Raoul Bellanova and Robin Gozens on for Denzel Dumfries and Alessandro Bastoni.
73 min: Lukaklu sends a harmless scuffed effort straight at Ederson.
71 min: Inter go so, so close to equalising. Dimarco sends a looping header on to the cross-bar from the edge of the six-yard box, the ball bounces back off the woodwork and sits up perfectly for the Inter wing-back, who sends his second header goalwards. It’s blocked by a completely unwitting Romelu Lukaku, who had his back to his teammate.
69 min: There was good work from Manuel Akanji, who played the ball to Bernardo Silva on the byline, to the right of the Inter goal. His pull-back was inch-perfect and Rodri sent the ball fizzing past Bastani and Onana to give his side the lead.
GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Inter (Rodri 68)
City lead! It’s a textbook City goal. Rodri latches on to a Bernardo Silva pull-back from the byline and from the edge of the area, threads an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner.
67 min: Haaland tries to charge into the Inter penalty area and play the ball into a pocket of space for the waiting Phil Foden. Alessandro Bastoni makes a crucial interception for Inter. Excellent defending.
64 min: Ruben Dias gets an important header away as Dimarco tried to connect with a looping Lukaku header towards the edge of the City six-yard box.
61 min: That latest rick by Ederson, which allowed Martinez in on goal albeit from a tight angle, left Pep Guardiola on his knees on the touchline. Martinez could have tried to pull the ball back to Lukaku or Barella but City did have defensive cover in the penalty area.
60 min: Phil Foden is fouled a few yards outside the Inter penalty area by Nicolo Barello, who gets the first booking of the game. Nothing comes from the free-kick.
59 min: Ederson and Akanji get their wires crossed, resulting in Martinez chasing a loose ball down theleft side of the City penalty area. The Argentinian shoots from a tight angle but his effort is blocked by Ederson.
57 min: Romelu Lukaku wins his first header, sending the ball wide towards Denzel Dumfries out on the right touchline. Manuel Akanji deals with his cross and any danger is averted.
56 min: Inter substitution: Romelu Lukaku on for Edin Dzeko, who has run his long legs into stumps in this opening hour.
54 min: Phil Foden is penalised just outside the Inter penalty area for a “foul” on Calhanoglu, who simply threw himself to the ground while the City substitute happened to be standing nearby. “I didn’t touch him!” screams an exasperated Foden at the referee and he’s not wrong.
53 min: Gundogan clatters into the back of Martinez but play continues. Moments later, Matteo Darmian is penalised for a foul on Grealish wide on the left. Not for the first time, Phil Foden’s delivery is poor and he overhits the free-kick. Manuel Akanji is unable to keep the ball in play.
50 min: Ilkay Gundogan is fouled by Haklan Calhanoglu and requires treatment but is fit to carry on. Free-kick for City on the halfway line.
49 min: A mistake by Onana in the Inter goal allows Bernardo Silva to advance into the Inter penalty area from the right. His attempted pull-back is blocked by Francesco Acerbi.
47 min: Federico Dimarco goes down holding his face and the msall of his back after Bernardo Silva checked his run, allowing the Italian to back into him as he tried to control a dropping ball. It was a nothing challenge and Dimarco is soon back on his feet.
46 min: Edin Dzeko sends a low pass down the right touchline for Nicolo Barella to chase but Manuel Akanji beats the Italian to the ball and passes it back to Ederson.
Second half: Manchester City 0-0 Inter
46 min: Play resumes with Manchester City on the ball. There are no further changes in personnel on either team.
An email: “I’ve never known Rodri give the ball away so much,” writes Fin Fletcher. “City are playing like they feel all the pressure on them. Inter have been on the front foot a lot more than some expected, leaving 3 or 4 up top. It’s a tight one.”
Half-time: Manchester City 0-0 Inter
Peep! Szymon Marciniak draws first half proceedings to a close with a few blasts of his whistle and the players troop off. Chances have been at a premium but the two best have fallen to Manchester city’s Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland. For Inter, Brozovic tried to capitalise on an Ederson error but his opportunistic effort from distance sailed well wide. City lost Kevin De Bruyne to injury shortly after the half-hour mark, when the Belgian was replaced by Phil Foden.
45+1 min: A left-footed Manuel Akanji effort from 25 yards out sails over the Inter cross-bar.
43 min: City free-kick, wide on the left for a Dumfries foul on Jack Grealish, who gestures to the ref that his marker should be booked. Ah, Jack … you’re better than that. Foden sends the free-kick deep, where Rodri’s attempted cross is blocked by Martinez. The ball ricochets off Rodri and goes out for a goal kick.
40 min: Hakan Calhanoglu wins the ball from Bernardo Silva with an aggressive challenge deep inside the Inter half and charges forward into the City half. He eventually runs into traffic and loses the ball.
37 min: Inter continue to press City’s players to within an inch of their lives, a tactic that’s serving them well but may be difficult to maintain in the oppressive heat as the game progresses. Despite the lateness of the hour it’s currently 21% celsius in Istanbul with 60% humidity. Is that a lot of humidty? I don’t really know but it certainly seems plenty to be going on with.
34 min: Gundogan plays the ball towards the touchline for De Bruyne to chase. He reaches it but his cross is wayward and he immediately signals to the bench that the jig is up and he needs to be replaced. Manchester City substitution: Phil Foden on, Kevin De Bruyne off.
31 min: Phil Foden has removed his substitute’s bib and is doing some stretches just beside the City dug-out. This doesn’t look good for Kevin De Bruyne, who is soldiering on for now.
30 min: Oh dear. Kevin De Bruyne is receiving treatment for what looks like a hamstring injury but is carrying on for the time being at least. He was forced off after an hour in the Champions League final two years ago and it would be an awful shame if the much the same thing were to happen to him again tonight.
27 min: Chance! Rodri and De Bruyne exchange passes and Haaland is played in behind. Shooting from a tight angle, he fires straight at Onano, who sticks out a leg and saves.
26 min: Ederson misplaces a pass out to one of his defenders and Brozovic pounces. He attempts to lob the ball over the keeper and into the empty net with a first-time effort but sends his effort well wide. Ederson looks a real bag of nerves tonight.
25 min: Nicolo Barella fouls Jack Grealish halfway inside the Inter half, one of several niggly challenges from players on both sides that are not helping the flow of the game.
22 min: Federico Dimarco goes down injured after a coming-together with Bernardo Silva and stays down while play continues around him. City advance up field but are unable to play their way through the Inter defence. Play breaks down and Dimarco gets to his feet, annoyed that the ref didn’t stop proceedings. He’ll live.
19 min: Marcelo Brozovic tries his luck from distance and shoots high over the bar. Lautaro Martinez makes no secret of his irritation that his skipper didn’t pass to him instead.
18 min: Nathan Ake plays a long ball forward which Haaland heads out towards the touchline for Jack Grealish to chase. Alessandro Bastoni is quick out to close him down, doesn’t allow him to turn and concedes a throw-in. Nothing comes of it.
16 min: City have had the best/only chance of the game so far but on the evidence of the game so far, you can park any notions you might have had that Inter would be completely overwhelmed by the Premier League champions. We’re still in the early stages of this final but they’re more than holding their own.
15 min: Inter go Route One and get the ball launched high up the field towards Martinez but City clear courtesy of Ruben Dias.
12 min: A mini-dither from Ederson results in a cheaply won Inter throw-in deep in Manchester City territory. Denzel Dumfries chucks it long and Ederson has another wobble as he loses the flight of a ball he thought was going wide. Martinez keeps it in play at the far post but John Stones clears the loose ball. Unconvincing from Ederson but City were in no real danger.
10 min: Hakan Calhanoglu drives forward towards the Manchester City penalty area and plays the ball wide to Federico Dimarco. Inter get several bodies into the box awaiting the cross but it’s cleared by a meaty Ruben Dias header.
7 min: Nicolo Barella and Marcelo Brozovic exchange passes down by Simone Inzaghi’s techincal area, where the Italian manager is gesticulating furiously at his troops like a traffic policeman on amphetamines.
5 min: Bernardo Silva picks up the ball on the right flank and is allowed to drive into the penalty area as Federico Dimarco backs off him. Silva shifts the ball on to his left foot and tries to curl it into the far corner but sends his effort narrowly wide.
4 min: Inter are pressing high up the pitch early doors, their midfielders getting forward to lend a hand in hounding City’s players when they are playing out from the back.
3 min: Erling Haaland runs on to a Kevin De Bruyne through ball and blasts the ball high over the bar from a tightish angle. Offside.
1 min: City win an early throw-in which is taken by John Stones. Inter quickly win the ball back and advance upfield. The ball’s played towards Edin Dzeko near the corner flag but he stumbles and is unable to prevent it from running out of play. Goal kick for City.
Manchester City v Inter is go ...
1 min: It’s 10pm in Istanbul and the Champions League final kicks off with Lautaro Martinez getting the ball rolling for Inter. Game on!!!
Out march the teams: With the Champions League anthem being played on a pitchside piano, the teams walk out on to the Ataturk Stadium sward led by Polish referee Szymon Marciniak, who many consider to be the world’s best. Handshakes are exchanged and a coin-toss is imminent. The very last of the pre-match formalities are under way.
Pre-match entertainment: Nigerian singer Burna Boy and Brazilian popster Anitta have just finished strutting their stuff and kick-off is just a few minutes away. Both sets of players are waiting patiently – or impatiently – in the tunnel as the Champions League trophy is placed on its plinth by former Turkey international Hamit Altintop.
Badoom-tish dept: “I wonder if City will miss Kyle Walker’s charges up the wing?” asks Niall Mullen. “Perhaps they have enough charges already?” He’s here all night; don’t forget to tip your waitress!
An email: “Henrik Mkhitaryan missing out on a European final for the second time; though this time at least it’s for medical reasons rather than because they held the final in a place where he might be killed,” writes Tim Atkins. “Still can’t believe everyone just let that slide.”
This is, of course, a reference to the 2019 Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea in Baku, which Mkhitaryan missed because of fears over his safety. From Armenia, the midfielder pulled out of the game after deciding he might be imperilled due to the conflict between the two countries over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Arsenal, his club at the time, described the invidious situation he was put in by Uefa as “totally unacceptable”.
Scott Carson: Manchester City’s 37-year-old third choice goalkeeper is on the bench tonight and should City prevail, will win his second Champions League medal. He won his first as an unused Liverpool substitute in the same stadium 18 years ago.
Pep Guardiola on the omission of Kyle Walker: Upon being asked if Walker has been left out because of his back injury, the Manchester City manager shakes his head. “No, no, no, no,” he tells BT Sport. “It could be that … it was really tough because Kyle is so important for us but for the way we want to defend, the way we want to attack, we need another type of player. That is the only reason why.” Ouch.
Jack Grealish: Manchester City’s record signing was often peripheral in last season’s big games but now feels he belongs and is showing it on and off the ball. David Hytner reports from Istanbul …
Those teams: Kyle Walker is the only slightly surprising omission from Manchester City’s line-up, having to make do with a place on the bench. Nathan Ake starts instead of him and we’ll find out in time whether Pep has left Walker out because of his back injury, or simply preferred the Dutch international.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the most conspicuous absentee from Inter’s line-up and has presumably not fit to start having missed all his side’s four games since the semi-final second leg against Milan. Marcelo Brozovic comes in for him. Edin Dzeko gets the nod up front alongside Lautaro Martinez, while Romaleu Lukaku is on the bench.
|Manchester City v Inter line-ups
Manchester City: Ederson, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Stones, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish, Haaland.
Subs: Walker, Phillips, Laporte, Ortega, Alvarez, Gomez, Mahrez, Perrone, Carson, Foden, Palmer, Lewis.
Inter: Onana, Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni, Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Dimarco, Dzeko, Martinez.
Subs: Gagliardini, de Vrij, Gosens, Correa, Bellanova, Asllani, Cordaz, Mkhitaryan, D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Lukaku, Handanovic.
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland)
Erling Haaland interview
Manchester City’s striker reflects on record-breaking season and his dream of winning European football’s biggest prize with Manchester City. Words: David Hytner in Istanbul.
How Inter can trouble City
It may be a small sample size but statistics from the Premier League season suggest the Italian side could have a formation to frustrate City, writes Jonathan Wilson, who says that Inter could do worse than try to imitate Brentford.
Manchester City : After decades of sometimes comical failure endured by their club, City supporters are confident their lavishly backed club are on the verge of a treble. Daniel Boffey reports from Istanbul …
Manchester City: Pep Guardiola believes a healthy obsession with winning the Champions Leaguecan propel Manchester City to beat Internazionale in Saturday’s final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium. Jamie Jackson reports from Istanbul …
Sheikh Mansour to attend tonight’s final
Manchester City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour, will attend his team’s Champions League final against Inter this evening in what will be only the second competitive game he has attended since his investment vehicle, the Abu Dhabi United Group, purchased City in 2008.
Traffic news: Inter’s section of the stadium is currently far more densely populated than Manchester City’s and fans are struggling to make it to there because of dreadful traffic jams snaking in the direction of the quite inaccessible ground. The Ataturk Stadium is located about an hour’s drive from Istanbul’s Taksim Square, where many fans have spent the past day or two roistering.
Obviously, it takes far longer to get from the city centre to the ground on a match day and Uefa laid on shuttle buses for supporters which have been running since 1pm this afternoon. Manchester City fans will be pleased to read that their team’s two coaches have just arrived at the stadium.
Edin Dzeko: The 37-year-old Inter striker won two Premier League titles with Manchester City, still refers to them as ‘my club’ and knows he played a big part in launching their modern success. Nicky Bandini reports …
Simone Inzaghi's pre-match press conference
“We have the opportunity to write ourselves into the history of this club,” he said. “It’s difficult, but we’ll try our best. We know what this match means for everyone at Inter, from the club to the fans. The fans have always been with us. We have great responsibility.
“We’re not relaxed: we’re fully focused, we’ll fight bit by bit against a truly strong side. The midfield will be very important, but not just that; we’ll need ‘legs, head and heart’. Making that extra run, staying bright, and with the heart, you can find extra energy.”
On choosing his team and the balance of his squad: “Only recently I’ve had to pick players and had doubts,” he said. “It’s a great resource being able to choose between players. I am lucky to coach players who are able to play these games. We have a mix of youngsters and experienced players who have played several finals. The details make a difference.”
On how he plans to stop Erling Haaland: “We know how strong Haaland is. We’ve prepared something to keep him quiet, though the entirety of Inter will need to be good in limiting him and the whole team. They defend well, they attack well. We will try to play our football and the right game.”
Pep Guardiola's pre-match press conference
“We know exactly how important the competition is,” he said. “We’re just focusing on what we have to do. I’ve seen as many Inter games as possible to try to get to know them as well as possible. What is important tomorrow is to put in the best performance we can. That will make the difference.
On Inter’s threat: “It’s the way they play. All the processes they do, on the left side especially, are exceptional. They have the ability to play that extra pass. We have to find a solution to be more effective. They can attack you down the middle, they can attack you out wide. That is very difficult to control. If you get into one-on-ones, they can destroy you. We’re going to try and defend as well as possible and just try to put in a good performance.”
Asked about the lessons he has learned from City’s defeat at the hands of Chelsea in the 2021 final, Pep had this to say: “It’s a different game. It’s two years later; many things have happened. We planned to have a good game against Chelsea [but] it didn’t work. Tomorrow will be the same. We’re ready. I have the feeling that we are ready. The players have a good feeling, knowing that they respect the qualities that Inter have.”
Manchester City: After miraculously escaping the third tier in 1999, City are one win from the treble. Michael Butler charts the defining moments that transformed their fortunes.
Tonight’s match officials
Referee: Szymon Marciniak
Assistant referees: Paweł Sokolnicki and Tomasz Listkiewicz
Fourth official: István Kovács
Video Assistant Referee: Tomasz Kwiatkowski
Early team news ...
Manchester City’s 23-man squad have an almost spotless bill of health going into this evening’s final, although Pep Guardiola raised midweek concerns over Kyle Walker, who is suffering from a slight back injury. The defender has, however, declared himself fit and available to play if selected. Despite his reputation for potentially dangerous meddling ahead of major finals, CIty’s starting line-up appears set in stone.
Ten of the 11 players who swatted Real Madrid aside in the semi-final second leg started the FA Cup final against Manchester United and look likely to line up again tonight. Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson will almost certainly return in place of Stefan Ortega as the only change.
Inter have a couple of injury concerns. Midfielder Henrikh Mkhitarian has not played since picking up a thigh injury in the second leg of Inter’s semi-final second leg against AC Milan but is expected to be fit. Argentinian striker Joaquin Correa is suffering a calf injury but is expected to take his place on the bench, with Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko likely to get the nod up front.
On Pep and his claims to be the GOAT: “To be the best coach in the world means shit,” he said during his time at Bayern Munich. But how about being the best of an era, of a moment in time? How about being the best coach ever? And how do we even measure these things now? It is a question worth asking, albeit without much hope of a sensible answer,” writes Barney Ronay.
Champions League: Manchester City v Inter
Istanbul’s Atatürk Stadium is the venue for tonight’s Champions League final, with Manchester City aiming to win Europe’s top trophy for the first time in their history. Should they prevail, they will wrap up an historic League, Cup and European Cup treble that has been achieved just once before, by their bitter rivals Manchester United back in 1999.
Standing in their way is an Inter side few give a snowball’s chance in hell of lifting the trophy, but despite being massive underdogs, the wily Italians can play a bit and will certainly fancy their chances of upsetting the odds to win their fourth European Cup. The Nerazzurri won back-to-back titles in 1964 and 65 before lifting the trophy for a third timer in 2010.
Kick-off in Istanbul is at 8pm (BST), but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up, including no end of preview material from our top team of talented writers.