Manchester City are in Istanbul for a second chance to win finally win the Champions League. However, standing between them and the coveted trophy are Italian giants Inter Milan, who are aiming to win the competition for the fourth time. They also want to be the only Italian side from three this season to win a European trophy after the failures of Roma and Fiorentina.
Roma lost the Europa League on penalties to Sevilla, while West Ham magnificently overcame Fiorentina on a glorious night in Prague to take the UEFA Conference League title. While Inter will be looking to take the title to Italy, City will want to complete the European treble and make it a hat-trick of defeats for the Italians.
Inter’s Champions League History
Inter last won the Champions League in 2010 when they beat Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabau in Madrid. They had finished second in their group and faced Chelsea in the knock-out stage. A 3-1 aggregate win over the Londoners set up a meeting with CSKA Moscow in the last eight. After winning both matches 1-0, Inter then faced Barcelona once more, having finished runners-up in the group to the Catalan side. Inter went through with a 3-2 aggregate win to go through to the final.
That was their first appearance at a Champions League / European Cup final since 1967, when they were beaten 2-1 by Celtic in Lisbon. However, they had won the competition in successive seasons, beating Real Madrid 3-1 in 1964 and retaining the title in 1965 with a 2-1 win over Benfica at the San Siro. Inter have also tasted European success in the 90’s when they won the UEFA Cup in 1991, 1994 and 1998.
Route to the Final
Inter qualified for the Champions League after finishing second in Serie A to neighbours AC Milan. They faced Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Viktoria Plzen in Group C, which was this year’s group of death. Inter finished runners-up in the group with three wins, one draw and two defeats. Interestingly, both of their losses at the group stage came home and away to Bayern, who achieved a 100% group stage record.
While City faced German opposition to reach the semi-final, Inter went to Portugal. The Italian side edged past Porto with a 1-0 aggregate win, before securing passage to the semi-final with a 5-3 aggregate win over Benfica.
Inter faced city rivals Milan for a place in the final, and made it through thanks to a 3-0 aggregate win over the former European champions and set up a first-ever meeting with City.
One’s To Watch
Lautaro Martinez finished as Inter’s top scorer with 24 goals in all competitions, followed by two former Premier League strikers. Romelu Lukaku has hit 13, the same number as former City star Edin Dzeko.
Martinez has attempted the most shots, with 121 attempts from 50 matches. Dzeko has 73 shots from 45, while Lukaku has just 50, but has played only 32 matches. However, the Belgian has the highest goal conversion rate (26%) and shot accuracy (54%) of the three.
Argentine Martinez also has the highest number of assists with nine this season. But the main danger could come from Hakan Çalhanoglu. The Turkish international will relish playing in his home country and has created the most chances for Inter this season (79), with 8 being taken. He has attempted 1,876 passes, completing 1,665 and, from 44 games, has a pass accuracy of 89%.
City should also keep a close eye on Francesco Acerbi if he plays. On loan from Lazio, the Italian defender has attempted the most passes of the side with 2,102, completing 1,878. He has also created 15 chances, two of which have been taken.
CL Final Stats
We’ve been scouring the statistics for some utterly useless facts, uncovered some misleading information and found a few interesting stats that may give you hope of a City victory. Alternatively, it could fill you with dread. And, if you’re superstitious, you may want to give the last one a miss.
A rumour circulated on social media during the week that a team who beats Real Madrid in the semi-final goes on to win the competition. Sadly, this isn’t necessarily the case. While Chelsea beat the Spaniards en route to winning the title in 2021, as did Barcelona in 2011, three teams have all lost the final after beating Madrid.
Bayern overcame Madrid in 2012 but lost the final to Chelsea, Dortmund did the same a year later but lost to Bayern and Juventus knocked out the record winners, but lost the final to Barca. However, United beat Madrid in the semi-final stage when they won the trophy in 1968. That gives some hope!
The last time a Champions League final was held at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul was 2005. That year Liverpool faced AC Milan and beat the Italian side on penalties.
English sides have the edge over Italian team in European finals. England and Italy have met four times in European competition and English sides have victored on three occasions. In 1984, Liverpool beat Roma on penalties, then did the same to Milan in 2005. And, of course, West Ham became the first English team to win the Conference League, beating Fiorentina in midweek.
The last time an English side lost a European final to an Italian side was 2007 - Milan beat Liverpool 2-0 in Greece. But we’re not in Greece on Saturday so relax!!!
Talking of West Ham in Europe, we had to give the superstitious something to worry about. The last time West Ham won a European final was a 2-0 victory over 1860 Munich to lift the European Cup Winners Cup. That year was 1965, the same 1965 when Inter won the European Cup!