When Manchester City plays Inter Milan in the 2021 Champions League final on Saturday, Pep Guardiola said that his team is ready to put their loss in the match behind them for good.
In the club’s lone prior appearance in the championship game of Europe’s premier club competition, City was defeated 1-0 by Chelsea in Porto.
When Guardiola unexpectedly left captain Fernandinho and Rodrigo out of the core of his midfield, he received criticism for making changes to a winning team.
“I am fairly convinced that two years ago, we prepared and had success versus Chelsea in mind. Just before his players exercised on the field at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium on Friday, Guardiola stated, “It didn’t work, and that’s why everyone believed the decision was wrong.
“Tomorrow will be the same; have a strategy in mind, share it with the players. We are prepared.
Kevin De Bruyne’s bittersweet encounter also came to an end when the City playmaker was carted off in tears after colliding with Chelsea defender Antonio Ruediger.
“We were not good enough on the day and you have to accept it,” De Bruyne said on Friday. “Luckily we have another chance, another opportunity to prove we can win this competition.”
City are looking to complete a remarkable treble by winning the Champions League for the first time in their history, after retaining the Premier League title and then beating Manchester United 2-1 in last weekend’s FA Cup final thanks to two Ilkay Gundogan goals.
They are the overwhelming favourites to complete the job against Inter, having seen off RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, all in comprehensive fashion, in this season’s knockout rounds.
The goals of Erling Haaland, who has scored 52 in all competitions since joining City from Borussia Dortmund, have helped elevate Guardiola’s side to new heights this season.
The Norwegian did not score in either leg of the semi-final against Madrid and has not found the net in his last four appearances, which constitutes a veritable goal drought for such a prolific player.
De Bruyne, who has enjoyed providing goals for Haaland this season, jokingly denied that it was a case of love at first sight between the two, as he expressed hope the striker will be back on form against Inter.
“I am happy with my wife,” he replied when asked about the chemistry between them.
“Sometimes you have a feeling with a player, you understand what he wants and he understands what I want or what I can do.
“It really worked incredibly well, and he began scoring at an unbelievable rate. That is beneficial, and he adapted to the team really quickly. I’m hoping he can accomplish his goals tomorrow.
Despite this, De Bruyne is aware that City may need to exercise patience in order to defeat a stubborn Inter team that has exceeded all expectations by making it to its first Champions League final in 13 years.
We know what Inter is, he continued.
They play outstanding defense. It won’t be a free-for-all, we anticipate. That rarely occurs in a final, anyway.