Manchester City are one win away from becoming just the second team in the Premier League’s history to secure the treble. With the Premier League and FA Cup titles already under their belt – the Pep Guardiola-managed squad can forever etch themselves in the history books with a victory over Serie A outfit Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) final in Istanbul this weekend.
The Sky Blues are heavily favoured in the champions league winner betting odds to be crowned the kings of Europe, with City garnering a short price of 2/9 with most operators, while their Italian opposition are considerable outsiders in a head-to-head at 2/7.
As mentioned earlier, if they are to justify the pre-match odds, they will join Manchester United as the only clubs who hail from England to have accomplished the treble (Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League) in the same season – a feat the Red Devils managed in 1999. It won’t be just the prospect of a treble that will motivate Kevin De Bruyne and company, however, as a triumph in Turkey will mark the Manchester club’s maiden UCL title.
The big-eared trophy has eluded City’s grasp since they began dominating English football 12 years ago, and if they can’t capitalise this time around in what most people perceive to be a final that’s theirs to lose, it could be a while yet before they reach the promise land of European club football.
With that being said, they should have enough talent to defeat the Simone Inzaghi-managed side – with the likes of Erling Haaland, De Bruyne and Jack Grealish just a few of the star-studded players City have at their disposal.
While Inter Milan will be building a gameplan to limit the damage of the three aforementioned players, they can’t afford to overlook some of the Sky Blues’ lesser-known dangers. With that being considered, read on as we examine two players who will need to step up for City on Saturday night if they’re to hoist their first bit of UCL silverware.
Arguably one of the most underrated players in the Premier League today, midfielder Ilkay Gundogen has proven to be one of the City’s most consistent performers. His poise with the ball at his feet and superb facilitating skills ensure he is one of the team’s most important players offensively. Couple that with his knack for goals in big moments, and the German could play a pivotal role against Inter Milan.
You only have to look at the 32-year-old’s showing in City’s FA Cup win over cross-city rivals Manchester United to see his value – as he netted two peaches from outside the box that proved the difference. If he can have a similar outing in Istanbul, the Manchester club will prove incredibly difficult to beat.
Although he remains a household name, Rodri doesn’t receive the plaudits when compared to some of his more globally recognised teammates. However, that doesn’t diminish the influence and impact he has on City’s success, as the Spaniard’s ability to maintain possession and frustrate the opposing midfielders is oftentimes the catalyst for City’s effective offensive raids.
If he can do what he does best and starve Inter of possession through accurate passing between him and his fellow midfielders and defensive backs, City should have too much ball and create too many opportunities for Milan to contend with.