Underdogs Can Prevail: Making The Case For Inter To Win Champions League Final

Inter face Man City in Saturday's final
12:01, 08 Jun 2023

Manchester City are going to win their first ever Champions League on Saturday, right? It seems a pretty sure thing. Arguably, if they were to play Inter Milan in 10 games they’d win at least eight of them.

They will return from Istanbul on Sunday to scenes of incredible rapture as they celebrate a historic treble with their supporters. The Abu Dhabi project will reach its absolute peak, with Pep Guardiola confirming himself as one of the greatest managers in modern football history.

Only, it might not turn out that way. What if this is one of those one or two occasions out of 10 that they don’t beat Inter? After all, football matches are played rather than imagined for a good reason… sometimes they don’t work out how everyone suspects.


And Inter aren’t a complete pushover, no matter that they are 6/1 underdogs with Betfred and considered one of the least likely winners of a European trophy in some time. They proved their big-match prowess in overcoming neighbours AC Milan over two legs in the semi-finals, and they have more than enough potential match-winners to have Guardiola second-guessing himself like only he can.

What is fairly certain is that City will dominate possession, but Inter will be more than comfortable with that. They’ll enjoy being compact and frustrating the Cityzens’ attempts to find gaps. If it comes down to resoluteness and concentration, Inter can be very good at that.

Simone Inzaghi has insisted in the build-up that he won’t try too hard to alter the formula which has got the Nerazzurri to this point. “We won’t change our approach,” he told reporters. “There’ll be moments during the match where we need to be more attacking, and others where we need to be strong defensively.”

While much of that goes without saying, it’s important to note that Inter have form for doing exactly that. In both legs of the semis they had just 43 per cent of possession, indeed they haven’t had their fair share of the ball in the Champions League since the first of their two encounters with Porto in the round of 16. They had just 35% of the ball in the second leg of that tie, then 43 and 41 against Benfica in their 5-3 aggregate success in the quarter-finals.


If they want even more inspiration, they only need look at the 2010 Inter team they are trying to emulate. Jose Mourinho’s side saw just 30% of the ball against Bayern Munich 13 years ago yet they tested the keeper more than twice as many times as their opponents managed (seven to three).

The moral of the story is that they don’t need to boss the game to win it, and especially so when you consider some of their dangers. Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez up top, with Romelu Lukaku ready to come off the bench. Nicolo Barella coming from deep to make the most of the well-timed threats from either wing-back position.

It is not hard to imagine Inter getting something on the break, the trick is in them not giving anything away in those long spells during which they are inviting a multi-faceted Man City team into their half. If they can effectively contract and expand their defensive unit when the need arises, the Nerazzurri might be well placed to cause an upset.

Inzaghi’s side are 22/1 to win from behind, but then you’d expect that. If they are going to lift the trophy they almost certainly can’t concede the first goal given the way they are likely to set up. But 18/1 for a 1-0 victory is appealing to say the least.

The chance of an Inter triumph has to be taken seriously, because the longer City go without scoring the opener the more they could be forgiven for believing it’s not going to be their night and it might only take a few seconds for Inter to cause damage on the break and give themselves something to hold onto.

So while City are rightly huge favourites, it would be extremely dangerous to completely disregard Inter’s chances of a fourth European title.


*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject to Change

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