LAY – Manchester City – Match Odds
The stars are aligning for Pep Guardiola to finally bring European silverware to the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City are also in line for a historic treble after a hard-fought win in the FA Cup Final last weekend over Manchester United. Despite Kyle Walker coming off late in that match, there are no indications that he will miss the Champions League Final, giving City a full squad to choose from.
After dispatching perennial contenders Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the knockout stages, they are rightfully short-priced favourites here. However, in a one-off, win-or-go-home match you can never write off an Italian side – be it at club level or internationally. The gamesmanship ingrained within the country is second to none. With Inter Milan holding their local rivals AC Milan to a double bagel in their semi-final, they could definitely frustrate City, particularly with the patented 3-5-2 format they have played under Simone Inzaghi. City’s class should see them claim the crown, but it may not be within the 90 minutes.
BACK – Under 2.5 Goals
The Champions League Final is typically a tight affair, with the past three deciders all finishing with a 1-0 scoreline. Both Guardiola and Inzaghi emphasise their sides to not just dictate play, but reduce the opportunities the opponent has to move into the attacking third. Man City and Inter are in the top 5 of their respective leagues in Field Tilt, top 3 in Expected Goals Against and top 3 in Possession. Both teams also have high priority on the midfield battle by trying to outnumber the opposition at all times through their structure.
The main difference here is the potency of City’s press compared to Inter, having the best passes allowed per defensive action in the Premier League by a wide margin. Denzel Dumfries and one of either Robin Gosens or Federico Dimarco in the wingback positions will be the key men for Inter. They will need to both open the width in a busy midfield that will be pressed for the whole match while also having the unenviable task of trying to provide cover for their three central defenders against Erling Haaland and co.
BACK – Over 3.5 Cards
The feature of Man City and Inter exerting control against opponents throughout their seasons is shown in their respective foul counts. City were the lowest fouling and yellow carded side in the Premier League, while Inter were the second lowest carded and fifth lowest fouling side in Serie A. However, what they both do well is the “smart foul”, where their players know when to commit an innocuous foul that disrupts the opponent without drawing the ire of the referee (Rodri for City and Barella for Inter being the best examples).
The bigger the match, the more this happens, as can be seen in both teams’ recent domestic cup matches, where they out-fouled their opponents and while racking up multiple yellow cards in their Champions League semi finals as well. Paired with Polish referee Szymon Marciniak, who handed out over four yellow cards on average this season, means this can be a great market for those looking for something a little bit different.
BACK – ILKAY GUNDOGAN TO SCORE
Man City’s captain has been their clutch man this season, scoring 11 goals across all competitions from midfield, including a match-winning brace in the FA Cup Final last weekend (an absolute gem 14 seconds into the match to setting the tone). Those goals made it six scored for the German in the past month, allowing City a much more fluid construction in attack.
Gundogan’s late runs into the box from deep have caused problems for all sides trying to sit deep against them, either by him punishing scuffed clearances, or by the City wide men cutting it back to the edge of the box for his run. While most eyes will be on the usual suspects of Haaland, De Bruyne, Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez, Gundogan is a great option for those looking at a value bet.