Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Four players who could make a difference for Inter Milan in the Champions League final

Four players who could make a difference for Inter Milan in the Champions League final

It has been well documented since the 2023 Champions League finalists were confirmed last month that Serie A side Inter Milan face an uphill task against Premier League and FA Cup winners Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s outfit go for a historic treble at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on June 10.

The three-time European Champions are huge rank outsiders to lift the prestigious piece of silverware in Turkey this weekend, with some bookmakers pricing I Nerazzurri as far out as 7/2 to get their hands on the cup compared to Man City’s incredibly short price of 2/9 in the Champions League winner odds.

Every single member of the Inter squad are going to have to up their game if they are to upset the applecart and stun the Sky Blues in the showpiece match as Chelsea did in 2021, so with that in mind, let’s take a look at four players who could have a massive impact in the iconic blue and black stripes.

Andre Onana – Goalkeeper

A position that is often overlooked, Andre Onana has been nothing short of inspirational in Inter’s run to the Champions League final. In fact, the Cameroonian is arguably the deserved recipient of the Best Goalkeeper accolade having made the most saves (45), kept the most clean sheets (8) and conceded the least goals (10) in the competition.

Onana is going to be in for a very long night in Istanbul as his goal will likely be peppered by Erling Haaland and co, but he has been solid enough this season to go into the final feeling confident against the Norwegian goal machine and his teammates.

Francesco Acerbi – Defender

While Inter’s back three are going to need to be a solid defensive unit over the course of the regulation 90 minutes and whatever comes next, they are going to rely heavily on the experience of veteran Francesco Acerbi when it comes to keeping Haaland at bay and remain watertight against Manchester City.

The 35-year-old has proven to be an inspired loan signing from fellow Serie A side Lazio as he has made 43 recoveries, nine successful tackles and 43 attempted clearances in his 11 appearances for I Nerazzurri. This will be his toughest task in the competition thus far, but this is the biggest game of his career and he could step up to the occasion.

Nicolo Barella – Midfield

All eyes are going to be on Nicolo Barella as there are several big clubs believed to be interested in the 26-year-old’s services this summer, most notably Liverpool. The European Championship-winning midfielder has been solid defensively, making 32 ball recoveries, eight successful tackles and nine clearances.

However, he has also scored crucial goals against Barcelona in the group stages and in both legs of the quarter-finals against Benfica. If he can get the right balance between defence and attack, which could be difficult in this midfield battle, then Barella can have a big impact on this game.

Lautaro Martinez – Attacker

Lautaro Martinez might not be as prolific as his opposite number Haaland, but the Argentine World Cup winner is just as important for Inter as the Norwegian is for Man City. Martinez has scored three goals, including the only strike in the second leg against San Siro rivals AC Milan in the second leg of the semi-finals, and has also contributed three assists in his 12 appearances.

Martinez’s responsibility on the night will be much bigger than just trying to score or set up goals as he is the Inter captain. It is his job to ensure that his teammates don’t let the occasion get them or begin to lose their heads should they fall behind to Manchester City.

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