Saturday, June 10, 2023, 9 p.m. Everyone in the Atatürk Olympic Stadium is holding their breath. Controversial referee Szymon Marciniak blows his whistle. The Champions League final between Manchester City and Internazionale has begun. But what do the statistics say, how did they get to the final and what will the outcome be? In this comprehensive preview, we discuss everything you need to know.
The 'Road to the final'
Manchester City was placed in a group with Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund and FC Copenhagen. A group that was expected to stand head and shoulders above them, which it did. All home games were won convincingly, Sevilla were knocked out 0-4 and twice an away game ended in 0-0, which meant Manchester City became group winner of Pool G.
In the last sixteen, RB Leipzig hoped for a stunt, especially after going 1-1 in Germany. At its own Etihad Stadium, Manchester City showed what it has to offer and the poor opponent was wiped out 7-0. The quarter and semi-finals showed the same picture. Bayern Munich went off the pitch disillusioned 3-0 in Manchester and could not repair the damage at home, where it finished 1-1. Also in Madrid, it was 1-1 and City clapped it full on in the home game; 4-0. Final score: twelve games, seven wins, five draws. Unbeatable at home, vulnerable on foreign soil.
Internazionale finished second in the pool of death: Group C, with Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona and Viktoria Plzen. Only Bayern Munich lost twice. Against Plzen, the Italian club won 0-2 and 4-0, while they chased the Spanish top club 1-0 from San Siro and drew at Barcelona after a crazy game. Inter fell behind 1-0, turned it around to 1-2, swallowed the equalizer in the 82nd minute, got ahead in the 89th minute and cashed in the 3-3 a few minutes later. Barcelona did not grasp the straw, taking Inter to the knockout stage.
There they were -if we are completely honest- very lucky with the draw. While their opponents in the final convincingly brushed aside absolute superpowers such as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, Inter came up against FC Porto, Benfica and arch-rival AC Milan. In those six matches, they left the field five times without a goal, once they drew 3-3.
The teams along the yardstick
City gave up only five goals so far while scoring 31. 24 of those 31 goals were scored at home. Inter has a goal difference of 19-10. It is notable, however, that Inter has more clean sheets in the Champions League: eight to seven. Not surprisingly, the offensive statistics are in favour of Pep Guardiola's team, while Simone Inzaghi's team is better defensively.
The attacking play of the blue side of Manchester is constantly praised, and rightly so. Manchester City sent many more passes (7786 to 5197) and relatively more of them arrived (90% to 83%). City set up 734 attacks and shot 193 times. Inter came to 478 passes and 154 shots.
Former striker Inzaghi has actually made Inter a defensively solid team. The number of captured balls is slightly in their favour, but the dominance comes with the other statistics. Inter has almost double the number of tackles, many more blocks and cleared the ball twice as often. They also covered more miles than their English opponents. The defensive dominance is not reflected in the number of cards the team receives. Inter made far more fouls (150 to 114), but has 25 cards, just four fewer than City's 21.
The above statistics can all be explained by the fact that Manchester City makes the game and thus comes certain situations. City has 60% ball possession and Inter 46% for a reason, so the game picture in the final will most likely go like this: City dominates in possession and chances, and the game takes place in the half of Inter, which tries to score via the counter.
What does the past say?
Remarkably, the two teams have never played against each other. However, we can look at all the encounters between Italian and English clubs in recent history. Manchester City was acquired by Abu Dhabi Group in 2008 and from then on many millions were poured into the team, resulting in several championships and also participations in European tournaments.
In 2010/2011, City played Juventus twice, resulting in 1-1 twice. Napoli won 1-2 and won 1-1 again a year later. The first victory and another 1-1 draw were achieved in 2014/2015 against AS Roma. This was followed by two more defeats against Juventus, two wins against Napoli and a win and draw against Atalanta. Final score Manchester City-Italian clubs in European: 4-5-3.
If we take the same period, Inter has also played regularly against English clubs. Manchester United (one draw, one loss), Chelsea (two wins), Tottenham Hotspur (two wins, two losses) and most recently Liverpool in 2021/2022 (wins and losses) provide a positive balance: 5-1-4. Moreover, Inter knows what winning is, in 2009/2010 they won the Champions League, while for City this is the first time in the final.
When will goals be scored?
In Manchester City matches, goals are scored equally often in both halves, although it still matters where they are played. At home, goals fall in five of six games in the first and in six of six in the second half. Out is slightly reversed, in three out of six games in the first half, versus four out of six in the second half.
City scores much more often in the second half than in the first, 100% (home) and 50% (away) to 67% (home) and 33% (away). Inter scores slightly more often in the second half and in terms of goals against it does not matter. At City, Erling Braut Haaland is the man to watch out for, he is the top scorer of the tournament with 12 goals. At Inter, they split the goals, with Edin Dzeko (4), Lautaro Martinez (3), Romelu Lukaku (3) and Nicolo Barella (3).
Probable lineups and injuries
The starting eleven is fully fit on both teams, which is always nice. At Inter, Joaquin Correa, who has played 41 games largely as a substitute anyway, is a doubt. Both clubs rotate their players regularly, but we expect Julian Alvarez, City's Argentine world champion, will not start. He has played the past seven games in the starting lineup, but he is on the bench every time it matters.
Inter's top scorer is also brought in as a fresh force. Dzeko was in the starting lineup in every Champions League match, but ended up on the bench in Serie A. Romelu Lukaku has seized his chance, scoring seven goals and four assists in his last seven games. We do see Dzeko filling in for Lukaku.
Probable lineup Manchester City: Ederson; Akanji, Dias, Aké; Stones, Rodri, De Bruyne, Gundogan; Grealish, Haaland, Bernardo Silva
Probable lineup Internazionale: Onana, Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni; DiMarco, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Barella, Dumfries; Martinez, Lukaku
Best betting tips Manchester City-Internazionale
|Less than 1.5 goals in the first half||1.50|
|Haaland less than 3.5 shots||1.88|
|Less than 2.5 goals total||2.10|
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