Manchester City vs Inter Milan: What are the key battles to look out for in the Champions League final ?

Haaland might have earned all the plaudits for his goal-scoring prowess this season, but Kevin de Bruyne, who has scored 10 goals and recorded 31 assists is the man Pep Guardiola might rely on to unlock Inter's solid defence.

File photo of Manchester City players Erling Haaland (right) and Kevin de Bruyne (left); Credit: Twitter/ @ErlingHaaland
By Sreejith C R | Jun 10, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Manchester City and Inter Milan will be up against each other in the UEFA Champions League final at Ataturk Olympic Stadium on Saturday night. Both sides have already won two titles each this season and are looking to secure their third one. Man City are coming into the showdown having already clinched the Premier League and FA Cup and are looking to become only the second English team since Manchester United in 1998-99 to complete the treble, while Inter haven’t had a great Serie A campaign finishing third in the table, while they have been brilliant in the Cup competitions, winning the Italian Super cup and Coppa Italia and are bidding to do a Cup treble. Apart from the contest between two heavy weights of Europe, it’ll be interesting to watch the individual battles. Lets have a look at the top three key battles we are looking forward to ahead of the showpiece in Istanbul.

Erling Haaland vs Francesco Acerbi

Erling Haaland is currently by far the best striker in Europe. In his very first season in the Premier League, the Norwegian scored a whopping 37 goals to win the Gold Boot award and helped his team lift their third consecutive league title. The 22-year-old is in the form of his life, having scored an astonishing 46 goals in as many games for Man City. The former Borussia Dortmund-man is very quick, has got stupendous upper body strength, bullet left foot and is strong in the air. The deadly combination of all these traits makes him a nightmare for defenders and he is destined to shatter numerous records for club and country in the future. Meanwhile, 35-year-old defender Francesco Acerbi will be tasked with the job of keeping an eye of Haaland. Acerbi has been the leader of Inter’s defence in the absence of injured Milan Skriniar and has managed to keep big strikers quiet this season. He was brilliant for Simone Inzaghi’s side in the two legged semi-final clash against AC Milan, keeping two clean sheets.

Kevin de Bruyne vs Marcelo Brozovic

Haaland might have earned all the plaudits for his goal-scoring prowess this season, but Kevin de Bruyne is the man Pep Guardiola will rely on to unlock Inter’s solid defence. The Belgian playmaker has scored 10 goals and recorded 31 assists across all competitions this season and his combination with Haaland could be the deciding fact in the final. Meanwhile, Inter play counter-attacking style of football with a compact defence, which will test the patience of the Man City attackers. Marcel Brozovic, will sit in front of the back-three and is likely to be assigned the duty neutralising the treat of De Bruyne. Although, the Croatian didn’t start in the semi-final tie he could return to the playing eleven in order to provide more defensive solidity to the Serie A side.

Lautaro Martinez vs John Stones

Lautaro Martinez has been Inter’s best striker this term, having already scored 28 goals in all competitions. The Argentine international is heading into the match on the back of an impressive run of form, scoring ten goals from his last ten appearances for Nerazzurri. The 25-year-old scored a brace against Fiorentina in the final of the Coppa Italia last month and helped his team lift their second title of the season. He will be deployed behind the big man Eden Dzeko. While the Bosnian would be tasked with keeping the centre-backs occupied, Martinez will be expected to pounce on the loose balls and get into the pockets of space. Meanwhile, English centre-back John Stones, who has shone in his new role as a defensive midfielder could be up for a litmus test on Saturday. The 29-year-old gives Guardiola an option to change the formation without much alterations to the team as he is capable of slotting into the centre-back position alongside Ruben Dias, pushing Kyle Walker in the right-back.

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