💫 ❓ Three big questions ahead of the UCL final | OneFootball

Icon: OneFootball


Lewis Ambrose·10 June 2023

💫 ❓ Three big questions ahead of the UCL final

Article image:💫 ❓ Three big questions ahead of the UCL final

The day of days is upon us, with the Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter just hours away.

Here are three questions on the game that kept us awake last night and still have us scratching our heads this morning.

OneFootball Videos

Are Inter the worst possible opponents for Pep Guardiola?

We hear time and time again that someone may be just the right team to crack the code that is beating Manchester City.

But maybe, just maybe, Inter really are well placed to up for a shock?

The Italian outfit have been hard to break down with their five-man backline in the Champions League this season but still pose a significant attacking threat with two strikers up top and the wingbacks flying forward.

Remind you of anyone?

Brentford play the same way against top sides and were the only Premier League team to do the double over Manchester City this season, stunning them at the Etihad back in November before repeating the trick again on the final day of the season.

That second win came against a heavily rotated City side and maybe, looking back, it is a little surprising Guardiola didn’t use that fixture as a test run for this one, though it’s understandable he didn’t want to take any fitness risks ahead of two major finals.

Still, maybe it really will play into Inter’s hands a little, as long as they get their gameplan just right.

Will the game end up being one-sided?

Article image:💫 ❓ Three big questions ahead of the UCL final

Man City can be expected to dominate the ball and Inter can be expected to sit off. An early goal for the favourites would probably not do the game any favours and could spell a long 90 minutes for both Inter and for any neutral viewers.

It’s hard to get the ball off of City at the best of times and it’s even harder when they’re ahead in a big game. They are also, for the record, superb at starting big games with a bang.

Ask Arsenal. Or Real Madrid. Or Manchester United.

Last week’s FA Cup final saw Guardiola’s side take the lead within the opening 13 seconds and it’s not too hard to see them doing similar again. If they do, it is hard to see them not putting the game to bed for the second week running.

Just one of the last 18 Champions League finals have been won by more than two goals within 90 minutes and the last three have each ended 1-0. The last two of those have gone the way of the side that enjoyed less possession on the night.

But City, with the counter-attacking machine that is Erling Haaland, are a different beast to ever before when it comes to finishing teams off. The question is whether or not Inter can drag it out long enough without falling behind.

Edin Džeko or Romelu Lukaku?

The one big team news question is for the Italians and whether Simone Inzaghi will plump for Edin Džeko or Romelu Lukaku to partner Lautaro Martínez up front.

Džeko has enjoyed a superb season and has consistently been given the nod in Inter’s biggest matches this season but at 37 he is the less physical option. The Bosnian is clinical as ever and has started every knockout game so far, ultimately leaving him out for a final against his former club would feel harsh.

But there are compelling arguments to select Romelu Lukaku instead.

The Belgian is back in his stride and offers end product of his own, a formidable understanding with Martínez, and is the better fit for playing with his back to goal and attracting (and holding off defenders) before finding team-mates on the break.

That is likely to be Inter’s best route to goal on Saturday, leaving Inzaghi with a tough call to make.

Either striker could make a real impact as a sub against tired defenders but for that to matter Inter have to still be in the game when it’s time for a change.