BetUK's BIG Champions League final stat-pack
The year is 2005. Istanbul plays host to one of the greatest underdog stories in footballing history. Liverpool are flailing, 3-0 down to AC Milan on the biggest stage, before Steven Gerrard’s goal starts a comeback that changes the course of history - the Reds pull off the seemingly impossible with a victory on penalties.
Eighteen years on, the Champions League final is once again being played on the same turf which hosted that miracle.
In many ways, the stage is set in a similar circumstance with many fans lauding over the masterful might of our official partners Manchester City while Inter Milan are being heralded as the underdogs who need to spring a huge surprise to topple Pep Guardiola’s side.
Whether you believe Inter do require a gift from the gods to lift the trophy on Saturday or you think they don’t quite have the team to get over the line, we have compiled an array of stats to inform the best decision for you come kick-off.
Manchester City (last five all comps): WLDWW
This City team has become the gold standard in modern football. Partnering steely defensive displays with attacking creativity, they have become one of strongest outfits on the continent, highlighted by an unbeaten run to the Champions league final.
That defensive dominance has been the catalyst for City’s unabated run to Istanbul, mustering 7 clean sheets in 12 European matches.
With the defence becoming virtually impenetrable throughout the knockout stages, City went three straight home games without conceding, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Inter failed to score over 0.5 goals when the sides meet in the final at 23/20.
City also boasted one of the best defensive records domestically conceding the joint-lowest amount of goals in the Premier League (33 in 38 games). Combine that with leading the Premier League in goals scored with 94, it is clear to see why City are on course for a piece of history.
A dream of history which became possible through City’s perpetual dominance in the Premier League, including an unbeaten run that spanned 25 games in all competitions before a final day loss to Brentford.
Fabled sides such as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have already been left in Pep Guardiola’s wake in the Champions League - it’s yet to be known whether Inter will be the next victim in the Citizens' tirade towards a treble.
Inter Milan (last five all comps): WWWLW
Inter toppled arch-rivals AC Milan to book themselves a spot in the final of the Champions League - not many people expected that when the season began.
But the Nerazzurri have proven themselves to be among the world’s elite. Simone Inzaghi’s side have fought, shocked and, most importantly, impressed European football with an astute run to one of the biggest games in the world.
The most notable trait that has been the spark plug for Inter's run to Istanbul is their defence - they have become extremely difficult to beat in the Champions League. En route to the final, Inter kept eight clean sheets in twelve games - one more than their English adversaries.
On paper, their run to the final doesn’t look as impressive as Manchester City’s though; Porto, Benfica, and AC Milan fell by the wayside for Inter Milan. That said, Inzaghi’s side have already shown they can win in a one-off final - defeating Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia showpiece - could they end their own season with an impressive double?
When it comes to domestic performance, Inter haven’t quite shown the same level of consistency in Serie A as they have in European competition this season - yet they have managed to steady the ship towards the back end of the campaign.
Ending the season with one defeat in their last eight - only being beaten by reigning champions Napoli during the run-in.
Both Teams to Score
Offensively is truly where City shine. With 31 goals during the Champions League so far (an average of over 2.5 goals per game - a tantalising market to add to your bet builder , they sit at the summit of the tournament's goalscoring charts, five ahead of the Real Madrid side that they dispatched in the semi-finals.
Most notably the goals came from Erling Haaland, the powerful forward who registered 12 in the tournament, more than any other player. Such a historic goal return is only achieved with plenty of chances and Haaland is averaging 1.77 shots on target per Premier League game, therefore backing him to have over 1.5 shots on target at 3/4 could prove a sensible shout.
Martinez led the way in the league for Inter, scoring 21 goals and finishing only behind Napoli’s Victor Osimhen in the battle for the Capocannoniere (the Serie A top scorer award).
Both Lukaku and Dzeko chipped in with 9+ goals respectively and catapulted Inter Milan into being the second-highest scorers in the Serie A with 70 league goals.
The pure mention of ‘danger men’ brings Manchester City’s Haaland to the forefront again. City’s Norwegian forward has set a relentless pace in both the Premier League and Champions League when it comes to goals - scoring 36 and 12 goals in the respective competitions.
Haaland’s sheer goal scoring prowess is reflected in his 3/5 odds to score at any time. Other City players pitch in with their fair share of goals too, despite nobody coming close to Haaland.
Bernardo Silva has become more influential as the Champions League has continued, scoring in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals, he’s currently at 24/5 to score in his third straight round.
The Nerazzurri prefer to spread their goals around in the Champions League with four players finding the net at least three times throughout the tournament.
Dzeko has been the most prolific during Inter’s run to the final with four goals (he is currently 5/1 to score anytime) with both Lukaku and Martinez just behind on three goals apiece (13/5 and 29/10 to score respectively).
Meanwhile, midfielder Nicolo Barella has often gone from provider to scorer with three goals himself (15/1 to score at any time provides incredible value).
Haaland might not have had the production in the Champions League if it wasn’t for Manchester City’s midfield magicians creating chances.
A transformed Jack Grealish has been in scintillating form on City’s left-hand side, producing seven assists in the Premier League and leading the way in chances created per 90 for the Citizens in Europe.
Despite Grealish’s consistent chance creation, it’s unsurprisingly Kevin De Bruyne who leads the way in actual assists. The Belgian has six in the Champions League already and it would be no surprise if he provided another in the final.
Falling just below De Bruyne in the assists ranking is Inter Milan’s Federico Dimarco. The 25-year-old defender has been instrumental in everything creative for Inzaghi’s side, laying on five goals throughout the tournament while ranking second-highest in chance creation for his team.
The most big chances created for the Nerazzurri come from their strikers. Whether it is Lukaku linking with Martinez or vice-versa, the two frontmen play a key role in Inter’s offensive output. This is reflected in the Belgian sitting atop the tree when it comes to chance creation (3.01).
Card count and discipline
Neither Manchester City or Inter Milan are particularly notorious for experimenting in the dark arts of defending this season. Both teams rank extremely low in their respective leagues when it comes to ill-discipline - Inter Milan in particular land rock-bottom of Serie A with only 60 yellow cards across the season.
However, Marcelo Brozovic appears to be an exception to the rule with his bullish midfield play style tallying the lion-share of Inter’s cards throughout the campaign (9 in Serie A alone).
The Croatian seems destined to start the showpiece with Henrikh Mikhitaryan’s inconsistent injury issues, so we think at 19/10, Brozovic is worth a punt to pick up a card during the final.
Surprisingly, on the European stage Martinez leads from the front with both goals and bookings. The Argentinian frontman has already been carded three times in the UCL and you can add him to go in the referee’s book on your bet builder here. The chances of the German midfielder being cautioned by the referee is priced at a generous 24/5.
Welcome to Pep roulette, the game where everybody tries to predict which assortment of players will be used in Guardiola’s latest eleven. With so much talent at his disposal, it’s clear to see why the manager struggles to play the same team twice.
However, we are starting to see a level of consistency in City’s new system. Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji are proving to be imperious at the back, while John Stones has recently taken up a defensive midfield position.
At the front end of the pitch, Kevin De Bruyne and Haaland are untouchable, whereas Gundogan and Jack Grealish can’t be replaced based on current form.
Likely Manchester City XI (3-2-4-1): Ederson; Walker, Ruben Dias, Akanji; Stones, Rodri; Silva, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish; Haaland
Inzaghi selects his side with a level of consistency - usually a back three or five alongside three men in midfield to create a solid foundation.
The only real question marks regarding Inter’s starting eleven relate who will align in midfield alongside Barella and Hakan Calhanoglu, and which two strikers will lead the line in Istanbul?
We predict that Brozovic will get the nod as part of the trio in the Nerazzurri’s engine room while Martinez and Lukaku spearhead Inzaghi’s attack.
Likely Inter XI (3-5-2): Onana; Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Dimarco; Martinez, Lukaku
This game is beautifully poised. Can the sensational City complete a memorable treble or will a defiant Inter Milan spring a surprise and topple Guardiola’s side?
While City’s sole previous appearance in a Champions League final ended in heartache, we don’t believe they will suffer a similar fate in 2023.
We expect them to flex their offensive muscles - as they often do on European nights - and lift an illustrious first Champions League title aloft in Istanbul with a to-nil victory.
Bet Builder top tip: Manchester City to win, Manchester City over 1.5 goals, Inter Milan under 0.5 goals - 9/4