Pep Guardiola’s final team sheet of the season will soon be announced and we will know who he has selected to be the Manchester City side to face Inter Milan at Atatürk Olympic Stadium. The eleven men who walk out of that tunnel for the UEFA Champions League Final will carry the hopes and dreams of every City fan with them.
So who do I think will get the start? Pep’s reputation for overthinking notwithstanding, I expect the boss to pick the very same side that defeated Manchester United seven days ago to win the FA Cup Final. Here’s my rundown of the best City XI at the moment. We’ll start in goal with Man City’s #1 keeper, Ederson.
The Best defense in Europe. City’s back line has evolved over the course of the season. Injuries limited Pep’s choices at times, João Cancelo pouted his way out the door, Rico Lewis showed form beyond his young age. Players got healthy and found their form. Nathan Aké was City’s best player for a good stretch. And then Pep made a tactical switch that put the squad into top gear. Today we play a back three and of Kyle Walker, whose pace will be needed against this Inter side, Rúben Dias, who returned from injury in January and solidified the defence, and Manuel Akanji, who may be the bargain signing of the season across Europe.
Guardiola’s midfield shape change is what turned this version of City from a very good side to perhaps the greatest side in the club’s history. Switching from a single CDM and two number 8 attackers to a double-pivot box shape which allows the attacking mids to push further up the pitch unlocked a run that has seen City outscore their opponents 77-17 across all competitions since late January (30 matches). The starters today are John Stones, the key to City’s midfield mastery, Rodri, the rock on which the midfield is built, İlkay Gündoğan, the heart of the club and big game magician, and Kevin De Bruyne, the finest midfield player in all the world.
The Manchester City attack has been the spearhead of a club that has scored 150 goals in 60 matches in 2022/23. When the forwards aren’t scoring the ball, they provide secondary passes to the midfielders and defenders, and they create space with the attention they command due to their lethal finishing. Today we start Bernardo Silva, an unquestioned big match performer who set the early tone with his brace against Real Madrid, Jack Grealish, whose ball-carrying drags defenders to him, and Erling Haaland, the competition's top goal-scorer this season and the most dangerous man in the world.
Kevin De Bruyne
There you have it Cityzens. Who do you back to bring home Old Big Ears? Let us know in the comments.