In this article…
The final club football match of the football season is upon us and it’s the biggest of the lot – the Champions League final in Istanbul.
The final will be contested between Italian giants and six-time European title winners Inter Milan and Manchester City, who are bidding to become the second English ever to win the ultimate treble after securing Premier League and FA Cup winners medals.
It wouldn’t be a big match without our team producing a Cheat Sheet and stats breakdown and we have delivered again, providing you with all the information you need to enhance your betting predictions ahead of a mammoth occasion.
Both bet builders we have for this game will feature on Paddy Power. Sign up to Paddy Power and get a full refund if your first bet loses. Grab an account through the offer below and place £30 on the Champions League Final bet builder to maximise the value for this offer available ONLY to new customers.
Journey to the final: Man City banishing Real demons
Man City have come unstuck more often than they would like in the Champions League at the hands of giants. Barcelona twice. Real Madrid twice. Liverpool. Paris Saint-Germain. And, erm, Spurs. Not this year.
They made light work of the group stage, securing 14 points to top it despite opponents including German runners-up Borussia Dortmund and Europa League champions Sevilla. RB Leipzig threatened to cause a problem in the Round of 16 until a five-star Erling Haaland performance. A third German outfit were dispatched in the quarters, with City all but ending their tie with six-time Champions League winners Bayern Munich within 90 minutes.
And so they returned to the Bernabeu to play Real Madrid. The Spaniards had twice beaten City in the semi-finals of the competition and had won the Champions League final in five of the last nine seasons. A 1-1 draw teed the second leg up nicely and Guardiola’s side took control on one of the most memorable nights in the club’s history, thrashing the 14-time champions 4-0.
Journey to the final: Inter on top in Milan derby
When the group stage was announced this year, Simone Inzaghi and the Inter board may have feared the worst, drawing Bayern Munich and Barcelona. They came unstuck twice against the former but four points against the latter secured their place in the knockout stages.
From there, it was relatively plain sailing. They dominated the home fixture with Porto and were happy to sit on their lead in the second leg. They kept another clean sheet against Porto’s domestic rivals Benfica before a thrilling three-all draw saw them advance 5-3 on aggregate.
The only thing between them and a first European final since 2010 was their greatest rivals and the club they famously ground-share with – AC Milan. They won the “away” tie 2-0 before keeping another clean sheet at “home” to secure a famous 3-0 aggregate victory to reach the final.
Champions League Final Cheat Sheet
The Cheat Sheet above gives you a statistical breakdown of each team domestically ahead of the final. We will be breaking down the major elements of this Cheat Sheet below to dive deeper into those likely to score, have a shot on target, commit a foul and make a lot of passes. We have split the Cheat Sheet in half with the teams on separate sides, showing you the highest performers for each metric for each team to enhance your betting predictions.
🟨 Referee: Szymon Marciniak
There’s something about a referee being bald that makes them more menacing and it’s fair to say the Man City and Inter players may not fancy the confrontation with 42-year-old Polish referee Szymon Marciniak.
Marciniak is one of the most highly rated officials in Europe, being tasked with refereeing the World Cup Final involving France and Argentina as well as a Nations League fixture between England and Italy.
The Pole isn’t afraid to put his hand in his pocket, reaching for 3.7 cards per game in the Polish Ekstraklasa. Those numbers increase over the course of his Champions League matches, dishing out 27 yellow cards in seven matches as well as two reds. Notably, he has also given four penalties and blown up for over 25 fouls per game – fouls could be a lucrative part of any bet builder you have planned.
Marciniak has refereed both of these teams in this year’s Champions League: The 3-3 group stage draw between Inter and Barcelona, Inter’s second leg goalless draw with Porto, and Man City’s thumping 4-0 semi-final win against Real Madrid. Those games have included at least four cards with Inter and Man City each receiving three in all three matches. He has also blown up for an average of 16.5 fouls against Inter and 16 fouls against Man City.
🥅 Goalscorers: Haaland the obvious goal threat
There are few safer goal picks in football at present than Erling Haaland, the Norwegian monster who has plundered home 36 in 26.9 90s in the league and 12 in 8.3 matches in the Champions League. The 22-year-old is a force to be reckoned with and one that Inter will do unbelievably well to stop.
Elsewhere, City aren’t flush with regular goalscorers and more a number of players who are capable of stepping up. That includes Kevin De Bruyne, who has reached double figures for the season in all competitions, and Ilkay Gundogan, who has stepped up just at the right time, scoring two braces to help secure the league title and another in the FA Cup final last weekend.
The challenge for Inter won’t just be stopping an imperious City attack but also scoring – City have not conceded more than once in a Champions League game in 2022-23 and in any competition since mid-January. If you’re backing them to score, you should back their strikers Lautaro Martinez, who has scored three Champions League goals, and former City hero Edin Dzeko, who has averaged a goal just shy of every 2 90’s in all competitions this season.
🥅 Load Erling Haaland to score anytime on Paddy Power
🎯 Shot on target: Haaland to stretch Inter back-three
Strikers on both sides lead the way for shots on target, perhaps unsurprisingly given both teams play to serve their high-profile forwards. When you have finishers like Erling Haaland, Lautaro Martinez, and Edin Dzeko, it just makes sense. However, while Haaland and Dzeko have thrived in Europe, it’s worth noting that Martinez’s finishing has been more than under par.
Other threats for City again include the two attacking midfielders with Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan often close by for anything that drops in and around the area. They are averaging 0.8 shots on target per game in the Champions League and nearly two shots apiece.
Inter like to attack with strikers and wing-backs so it makes sense that both Federico Dimarco and Denzel Dumfries are taking over a shot apiece but their accuracy can be limited. Hakan Calhanoglu has always had an eye for the spectacular and it’s worth remembering that he will be on free-kick and penalty duty.
🎯 Load Erling Haaland to have 2+ shots on target on Paddy Power
🛑 Fouls: Dumfries v Grealish is the battle to watch
Inter are very happy to stop the opposition by whatever means necessary and that involves a lot of different players making a lot of fouls – there are more than just the five on the cheat sheet committing more than a foul per game both domestically and in Europe.
Calhanoglu is a consistent threat to ankles, committing 1.75 fouls per game, and he, plus his midfield partner Nicola Barella, will have their hands full with City’s box midfield as they bid to stop their dominance in possession. City’s width means that Inter’s wing-backs may be forced to do more defending out wide than they would like and Denzel Dumfries will have his hands full with Jack Grealish.
However, that also goes the other way. Part of City’s defensive approach is that they try and stop the opposition at source and that sees Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva commit fouls when the opposition attempt to get around them. Grealish will be tasked with Dumfries, who is fouled more than twice per game in Europe while Silva is up against Dimarco. A word for Rodri too, City’s midfield bouncer who will be contending with the forward running of Barella.
🛑 Load Jack Grealish to commit 1+ foul on Paddy Power
⚽ Passes: Hakan to be Inter’s outlet
There’s little debate about who will dominate the ball in the final. Inter Milan have only managed more of the ball on three occasions in the Champions League this season, and two of those came against Czech outfit Viktoria Plzen. City, meanwhile, have seen more of the ball against everybody but Bayern Munich.
Their domination starts firmly in the centre of the pitch with centre-back Ruben Dias and defensive midfielder Rodri being the central pivot for almost everything that happens in their game. Both are averaging over 90 passes per 90 in the league and the latter is doing the same in the Champions League, making over 80 in the first leg at the Bernabeu before making over 100 in the 4-0 win.
Inter are comfortable without the ball and the player in their ranks most likely to reach City-esque numbers is Marcelo Brozovic, who is unlikely to start. With Haaland likely tasked with staying close to Francesco Acerbi, as Olivier Giroud did in the final, Inter will likely look towards Alessandro Bastoni and Hakan Calhanoglu to get on the ball and make them tick when the opportunity arises. Calhanoglu will also be on most set pieces, making him a decent candidate to make 50 or more passes, just as he did in the semi-final second leg v AC Milan.
⚽ Load Hakan Calhanoglu to attempt 50+ passes on Paddy Power
Haven’t got a Paddy Power account? You’re in luck…
Sign up to Paddy Power and get a full refund if your first bet loses. Grab an account through the offer below and place £30 on the ANY of our Champions League Final Bets. Here are the two possible outcomes:
18+ please gamble responsibly.