A monumental clash of football philosophies is to take centre stage when Manchester City face Italian giants Inter Milan in the Uefa Champions League final on Saturday night. All three of the Nerrazzuri’s European crowns came under coaches who placed a premium on defensive obduracy. Legendary Giuseppe Meazza Stadium boss Helenio Herrera’s La Grande Inter muscled their way to what was then referred to as the European Cup in 1964 and 1965 deploying the fabled ‘catenaccio’ suffocating style of defensive play. Jose Mourinho was to emulate Herrera while guiding the San Siro based outfit to success in 2010.
Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions Manchester City are principally an offensive side. The Catalan football alchemist has evolved from a total apostle of the tiki taka pass and move philosophy with which he won the Champions League in 2009 and 2011 with Barcelona to a more pragmatic operator for whom hybrid soccer is the norm. The 2021 losing finalists are not afraid of mixing it up, with the aesthetics of the game going in tandem with physicality. Seven of the Cityzens starting XI in Istanbul, Turkey will be at least six feet tall.
Internazionale have already demonstrated their take no prisoners approach by emerging out of the ‘group of death’ that included Bayern Munich, five time winners Barcelona and Viktoria Plzen. Their defensive obduracy has been even more apparent in the knock out phases where they’ve not conceded in five out of six encounters with FC Porto, Benfica and AC Milan. Inter’s man marking expert Francesco Acerbi is in all likelihood going to be detailed to keep City’s 52 goal striking behemoth Erling Braut Haaland under constant surveillance.
Manchester City blew away RB Leipzig 7-1 on aggregate in the round of 16, before dismissing six time champions Bayern Munich 4-1 on aggregate and pulversing reigning champions Real Madrid 5-1 over two legs. Guardiola will demand a similar ruthless streak as the Cityzens’ 4-0 whitewash of Los Blancos in the second leg semifinal at Etihad Stadium is the standout performance of any team in this year’s tournament.
Neither side will be short of confidence as the two teams have already enjoyed success this season. Manchester City beat local rivals Manchester United 2-1 in last weekend’s FA Cup final and are now targeting an unprecedented treble. Simone Inzaghi’s Inter Milan successfully retained the Coppa Italia or Italian Cup by edging Fiorentina 2-1 on May 26.
Manchester City v Inter Milan