Manchester City delivered a frighteningly complete performance on Wednesday to see off Real Madrid 4-0 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate. Pep Guardiola's side were hugely superior in the first half and would have been out of sight had Thibaut Courtois not been in exceptional form between the sticks for the Spanish giants. City were the better side over the two legs despite Real enjoying a dominant spell in the first and the Premier League titleholders look primed to snag their first Champions League crown.
Standing in their way are Inter who edged Milan 1-0 on Tuesday to complete a 3-0 aggregate success to book a first UCL final since their 2010 success under Jose Mourinho. The Nerazzurri have impressed in their ability to dump out the likes of Porto, Benfica and now their bitter Rossoneri rivals, but they have not come up against any side quite like this City. So, do Inter stand any chance at all in Istanbul come June 10? We look at reasons for Inter fans to believe that it can happen:
Inter are a true cup team
One thing abundantly clear from this run to the final is that this Inter team are made for cup competitions. They seem to thrive in this sort of environment and have managed to notch a Coppa Italia final in addition to this and are back in Serie A's top four too. Inzaghi might not be able to get the best out of his squad across all competitions for a full season, but there is no doubt that their strengths lie away from the Italian league scene right now. Atalanta and Juventus have fallen to Inter as they seek to defend their Coppa title and those successes should be factored into the build-up, especially as Juve were seen off over two legs. Inter hitting their stride at just the right time could make them a dangerous wildcard for City to have fallen upon.
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City might have peaked
Something else possibly counting in Inter's favor is how difficult it will be for City to replicate the perfection of their second-leg mastery against Real when they only have one game to do it this time around. In 90 minutes, anything can happen, as we saw in City's final appearance against Chelsea just two years ago. Guardiola's first leg setup was not perfect although it did produce the desired outcome of not losing in Madrid but the Spaniard cannot afford to leave anything to chance if he wants to add his third Champions League title and first outside of Barcelona. City seem primed for success in what could be a historic end to the season for them, but they do not have the luxury of 180 minutes here having drawn 1-1 in each of the three knockout rounds -- albeit with big winning margins at Etihad Stadium which itself accounts for some of it.
3 - #Inter will play three finals this season (after the Supercoppa Italiana and the next Coppa Italia final), last doing so in 2010/11, when they played four and won three such matches (Supercoppa Italiana, Coppa Italia and Club World Cup). Stage.#InterMilan pic.twitter.com/sqNFtrfpjn— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) May 16, 2023
Inter's defense-led revival
The Italians might not boast star names like David Alaba, Eder Militao and Antonio Rudiger, but Inter's combination of Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi and Alessandro Bastoni is undeniably strong. With Andre Onana backing them up between the sticks and Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco up and down either side, nobody finds it easy against them. Most impressively, Milan Skriniar has barely been missed at all since his back injury which required surgery and there is no guarantee that he will be back in time for this one either. A closer look at the numbers and Inter have kept five clean sheets from a possible six en route to the final which is impressive by any standards with nine goals scored in those six games to underline that they are no slouches in front of goal either.
City are huge favorites
Perhaps most crucial of all will be the fact that City are well and truly the favorites coming into this one which was not as clear up against Bayern Munich and certainly not against Real. Inter are unfancied ahead of this final and people are already writing them off -- hence this article -- but as we have already discussed, there is already enough evidence that the job is not done for City. Casting our minds back to UEFA Euro 2020 should serve as a cautionary tale too when Italy upset England against the odds at Wembley to end up as champions. Another Anglo-Italian battle for European supremacy could not end up similarly, could it?