ISTANBUL, 10 June. /TASS/. Manchester City and Italian Inter will play in the 2022/23 Champions League final on Saturday. The meeting will take place at the Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.
Manchester City showed a confident game throughout the tournament: Josep Guardiola’s wards did not suffer a single defeat and reached the final, breaking the resistance of strong rivals. At the group stage, Manchester City took first place in Group G, gaining 14 points, the German Borussia Dortmund (9 points), the third – the Spanish Sevilla (5), the fourth – the Danish Copenhagen (3) . On the night of June 1, Sevilla, which was relegated to the Europa League, won the tournament for the seventh time, beating the Italian Roma in the final (1:1, 4:1 on penalties).
In the ⅛ final, Manchester City beat German Leipzig on aggregate: the first match ended in a draw (1:1), but in Manchester, Guardiola’s wards inflicted a crushing defeat on Leipzig (7:0). Manchester City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland scored five goals in that match, becoming only the second player after Argentina’s Lionel Messi to score five goals in a single Champions League play-off match. In the quarter-finals, the English team beat the German Bayern (3:1, 1:1) on aggregate, and in the semi-finals they were stronger than the winner of the Champions League in 2022 – the Spanish Real Madrid (1:1, 4:0).
Inter qualified for the play-offs finishing second in Group C with 10 points. The first was Bayern (18), the third – the Spanish “Barcelona” (7), the fourth – the Czech “Victoria” (0). In the ⅛ finals, the wards of Simone Inzaghi defeated the Portuguese Porto (1:0, 0:0), in the ¼ finals, the team from Milan turned out to be stronger than the Portuguese Benfica (2:0, 3:3). In the semi-finals, Inter outplayed their principal rival, the Italian Milan (2:0, 1:0), in two matches.
The teams will play a face-to-face match for the third time and the first in European competition, after Manchester City and Inter met in friendly games in 2010 and 2011. The teams exchanged victories, both meetings ended with the score 3:0.
The Olympic Stadium in Istanbul will host the Champions League final for the second time in history: for the first time, the final match of the main European Cup tournament was held in Istanbul in 2005, then the English Liverpool defeated Milan in a penalty shootout, recouping from the score 0:3 after the first half. After that, many fans began to call this match the “Istanbul miracle”.
Team statistics in the tournament and results of the season
Manchester City will play in the Champions League final for the second time in history. For the first time, the team got a chance to win the main European club tournament in 2021, but then lost to the English Chelsea (0:1) with a minimum score. If they win the match against Inter, Manchester City will win the second European Cup in history: in 1970, the team won the Cup Winners’ Cup, beating the Polish Górnik (2: 1) in the final.
Inter will play in the Champions League final for the sixth time: the team has three victories in the tournament (in 1964, 1965 and 2010), twice the Milanese lost in the final game (1967, 1972). If Inter beats Manchester City, it will equal the number of Champions League victories with the Dutch Ajax, the record for victories in the tournament is Real Madrid (14).
Manchester City are approaching the final as the winners of the championship and the FA Cup. In the national championship, the team from Manchester scored 89 points, 5 points ahead of Arsenal, which led the standings for most of the season. On June 3, Guardiola’s wards won the FA Cup, beating Manchester United 2-1 in the final.
The leader of Manchester City is Haaland, who joined the team in July 2022 from Borussia Dortmund. In 52 matches in all competitions, the Norwegian has scored 52 goals and provided 9 assists. In the Premier League, Haaland scored 36 goals, setting a new tournament record. Haaland is the top scorer in the current Champions League with 12 goals, the record for goals in a season belongs to the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo (17).
Inter in the 2022/23 season won the Coppa Italia, in the final match the Milanese beat Fiorentina with a score of 2:1. In the national championship, Inter took third place, the winner of the tournament for the third time in history was Napoli. This season, Italian teams reached the final of each of the three European competitions, but they were defeated in two of them: Roma lost to Sevilla in the Europa League final, Fiorentina could not beat the English West Ham in the final match of the Conference League ( 1:2).
Inter’s leader can be called the Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onan, who in the current Champions League draw is the leader in the number of saves (45). The record holder for this indicator is the Belgian Thibaut Courtois, who saved the gate 59 times in the previous season.
The victory in the final will be of great importance not only for the players, but also for the coaches of the playing teams. Guardiola won the Champions League twice as head coach, both times with Barcelona (2009, 2011). After that, the Spaniard was the coach of Bayern, with whom he could not achieve success in the European arena, since 2016 the specialist has been heading Manchester City and will play in the final of the main European tournament for the second time. Inzaghi, who has been in charge of Inter since 2021, could win the European Cup for the first time in his coaching career.
The owner of the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup as part of the St. Petersburg “Zenith”, a former footballer of the English clubs “Reading” and “Fulham” Pavel Pogrebnyak expressed to TASS the opinion that the teams will show productive football, and believes that both clubs have equal chances of winning, despite the fact that Manchester City is approaching the game as a favorite. “At the moment, of course, we are taking the best team in the world, this is Manchester City, it is clear that they are the favourites. But Inter, with such a selection of players and a coaching idea, is not much inferior to Manchester City. Still, this is the final, so the chances are 50 to 50, ”Pogrebnyak said.
“Now they say that Italian football is reviving, that the top clubs are in sight, but let’s be honest that so far English football is the standard of world sport in general. This is number one both in terms of level, and in terms of the financial component, and in terms of how qualified the players are, ”he added.
The main referee of the match will be the Pole Szymon Marchiniak, who officiated the final of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. On June 1, Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy reported that Marciniak attended an event hosted by one of the leaders of the nationalist Polish Confederation Party, Slawomir Mentzen, and could be suspended from work at the final. The press service of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in a commentary to Przeglad Sportowy said that the organization considers the values promoted by the party unacceptable. Marchiniak stated that he “never supported any political party or individual politician” and also distanced himself from any radical, racist or anti-Semitic views, later UEFA confirmed that Marciniak would work for the Champions League final.
In the 2022/23 season, clubs from Russia do not play in European competitions due to the decision of the UEFA Executive Committee.
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