Five Keys to Victory for Inter Against Man City in Champions League Final

In a few hours, Inter will make their first appearance in a Champions League final in 13 years as they take on Man City at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul. But While the bookmakers have unanimously announced the Cityzens as the clear favorites, Simone Inzaghi has fully embraced the underdog role while gunning for a jaw-dropping.

In this day and age, the Premier League champions have cemented themselves as the most terrifying club in world football. The Sky Blues host an army of world-class players all across the field led by one of the most decorated managers of all time in the shape of Pep Guardiola.

Yet, the Italian giants didn’t reach this advanced stage by coincidence. In fact, the Beneamata have demonstrated an admirable ability to cope with every new hurdle thrust in their direction while making the necessary adjustments.

So here are five keys to victory that could lead Inter towards their fourth Champions League title, even if it must come at the expense of the marauding Man City.

Prevent an Early Goal

While this mission is certainly easier said than done, the Serie A representatives must try to accomplish it by any means necessary. We’re not suggesting that the encounter would be set, sealed and done if City were to score an early goal, but it would undoubtedly leave the Italians with a mountain to climb.

Guardiola’s army enjoys playing free-flowing, attacking football while depriving their opponents of ball possession. So breaking the deadlock in the first stage of the match would only encourage them to lunge further forward fishing for additional goals to subdue all resistance. It would also force Inzaghi’s men to adopt a more adventurous approach, which could also cost them dearly.

On the contrary, if Inter manage to ward off Man City for the entire first half, frustration could creep in for the favorites while the Italians would receive a major morale boost that could make a significant difference in the final stages.

Tighten the Spaces

As we mentioned above, Inter have the ability to adjust to every task based on the characteristics of the opposition. So on this particular occasion, the Nerazzurri will have to lay low as they wouldn’t be able to match their opponents in an open-field battle.

Sitting deep would spare Inter defenders from engaging in sprint contests against Erling Haaland who would easily leave them in the dust – even though the Norwegian remains immensely dangerous regardless of which tactic you apply against him.

Moreover, this approach would deny the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan the spaces between the lines where they enjoy lurking. And even Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva would find themselves facing two markers when they attempt to cause havoc from the wings.

Read More: De Bruyne vs Brozovic and Five Key Duels in Champions League Final

Exploit the Flanks

When Inzaghi replaced Antonio Conte in the Black-and-Blue dugout, many things have changed at Inter. However, the 47-year-old still maintained one of the most recognizable aspects of his predecessor’s strategy: The 3-5-2 formation that heavily relies on wingbacks.

As it happens, this could be an ideal attribute when coming against Guardiola’s revolutionary 3-2-4-1 lineup. Admittedly, the Catalan’s tactical system is hybrid, thus it could easily shift into a more traditional 4-2-3-1 formation when required, with John Stones playing an instrumental role in the transition.

So while this system is based on a solid midfield foundation, it might leave some holes to exploit in wide areas, especially if the likes of Silva and Grealish don’t drop back to support the backline in time.

Therefore, Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco may hold the key to unlocking the English defenses when surging forward on swift counter-attacks.

Utilize Substitutions

For better or worse, Inzaghi is well-known for his dependency on substitutions. The laws allow clubs to make five changes in normal time (and a sixth in extra time) and the former Lazio coach hardly wastes any.

On most occasions, the Inter manager would take the opportunity to re-energize his lineup, especially on the wings (due to the enormous amount of running required from the wingbacks). We mentioned Dumfries and Dimarco above, but we can expect both of them to make way for fresher legs at some point during the match.

At the end of an exhausting campaign, this approach would surely come in handy. Inzaghi will probably demand a full-throttle display from some of his players, asking them to leave it all out on the pitch before replacing them when they empty their gas tanks.

Needless to say, Man City also possess remarkable squad depth, but while Guardiola tends to maintain his starting lineup intact for the bulk of the match, the Inter manager prefers to make changes in personnel from the start of the second half.

Let’s see which philosophy will prevail in the grand finale.

Conjure Italian Grinta

When it comes to finals, it isn’t always about possessing the best crop of players (otherwise, it would have been a lost case for Inter already).

Sometimes, it comes down to which team wants it more. Just ask Man City who were the clear favorites to beat Chelsea at this same stage two years ago, but a mixture of tactical blunders and mental fragility saw them fumbling in the worst possible timing.

Therefore, the Italians must conjure the one substantial aspect that had often separated them from the rest of the field and saw them emerge victorious on several occasions at the expense of the English in particular.

Of course, we’re talking about the famous Italian Grinta.

With all due respect to Man City and the incredible galaxy of star players that the club has assembled, this is the one facet where they’re no match at all to their Italian foes.

So if the Nerazzurri succeed in awakening the renowned warrior-like spirit that Italian clubs had often adopted, they may stand a chance after all.

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