Who Will Triumph In Istanbul? A Prediction Of The Champions League Final

Louis Park ’26 in Sports | May 28, 2023

The stage is set for the culmination of one of the biggest tournaments in the sports world as Manchester City (Man City) from England and Inter Milan (Inter) from Italy will head to Istanbul on June 10 to compete in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League final. For more than 60 years with the most elite soccer clubs from the English Premier League, La Liga in Spain; Serie A in Italy; The Bundesliga in Germany, and from all across Europe have battled for the Champions League throne and the coveted “Big Ears” trophy. 

Manchester City F.C. and Inter Milan both faced tough opponents en route to the final. Inter Milan battled against their Milan rival, AC Milan in the semifinals. The game between two traditional rivals was expected to be very intense. However, these expectations were subverted early on. Inter led the defending Serie A champions by 2-0 less than 15 minutes in, with senior players Edin Džeko and Henrikh Mkhitaryan each finding the net in the eighth and 11th minutes respectively. With AC Milan’s key player Raphael Leao—Serie A MVP last season—injured, AC Milan’s firepower could not match Inter’s. In the second leg, the game remained very even, which kept AC Milan’s dream alive until World Cup winner Lautaro Martinez sealed AC Milan’s fate and Inter’s way to the final with a goal in the 74th minute. After a 3-0 aggregate victory, Inter Milan’s underdog story will continue in Istanbul.

Man City once again clashed with defending champions Real Madrid C.F. in this season’s semifinal. Not only have Real Madrid won the Champions League a record 14 times, but they also eliminated Man City in last year’s semi-final. In last season's first leg, Man City won 4-3 in their home stadium, the Etihad. In the second leg in Madrid, Riyad Mahrez scored in the 73rd minute, making the aggregate score 5-3. Real Madrid couldn’t find a breakthrough, with broadcasting statistics giving them a winning probability of only 0.1 percent by the 90th minute. However, a miracle occurred in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Real Madrid substitute Rodrygo Silva de Goes scored two goals within mere minutes of each other, one coming off of a cutback from Karim Benzema, and the other being a header after a cross from right-back Carvajal, to equalize the aggregate score at 5-5. The drama continued when Man City defender Ruben Dias committed a dangerous tackle on Benzema and conceded a penalty only two minutes into extra time. Benzema iced the game from the penalty spot, finalizing Madrid’s insane comeback that started at the end of regulation. 

City again met their old opponent once again in last week’s semi-final. The first leg between the two ended with a 1-1 draw, with Kevin De Bruyne and Vinicius Jr. each scoring goals from beyond the 18-yard box. Real Madrid entered the second leg at the Etihad poised to repeat last year’s triumph, but this season’s City team was different from the one that lost a year ago. Sitting in first place in the Premier League with Arsenal slipping from the top of the table, and with a place waiting in the FA Cup Final, City’s hope of a treble, winning three major trophies in a single season, seemed possible, in large part because of the machine that is Erling Haaland. As a new signing from Dortmund this summer, Haaland broke the record for most goals in a single Premier League season with 36 goals and counting. With Haaland as a final piece to City’s squad, they have seemed unbeatable this season, and the squad peaked in the second leg against Real Madrid as they demolished the defending champions 4-0. Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva’s double, center-back Manuel Akanji’s header, and Juilan Alvarez’s 91st-minute goal helped City reach their second Champions League final in their history, avenging the pain of last season.

Man City has always been considered one of the strongest teams in the Champions League, as they won the Premier League—the most competitive league in the world—five times in the last six years, along with winning numerous domestic competitions in the same time frame. On the other hand, not many fans expected Inter Milan to reach the final. Despite Inter’s illustrious history, they have been going through a relatively tough season. Currently placed in the fourth place in Serie A, Inter is only two points clear of the sixth place with two games to go, meaning they could potentially fail to qualify for next year’s Champions League. However, their experience and teamwork brought them to the final. Statistically, a Manchester City victory seems more realistic. Will Manchester City redeem their 2021 loss to Chelsea F.C. and finally win their first Champions League? Will Inter Milan pull off one of the greatest upsets in history? These questions will be answered on June 10 in Istanbul.

Prediction for the Final:
Man City 3 - 1 Inter Milan