With Inter and Man City on a collision course in the UCL final, it was the perfect time to check in with our SB Nation sister site Bitter and Blue. Co-managing editor Saul Garcia, who you can follow on Twitter here, was kind enough to answer my Man City-related queries and went over everything from playing style to how to stop Erling Haaland (hint: you can’t).
Q: What is City’s general play style and tactics under Pep Guardiola?
A: It has evolved and just this season we went from the classic Pep 4-3-3 to a hybrid formation with John Stones serving as a central midfielder and it has worked like a charm. We add the wingers who pinch in and a pitch extender in Erling Haaland, it facilitates Kevin De Bruyne who has free rein. The team has been malleable to whatever Pep has needed and it has worked.
Q: What are City’s strengths and weaknesses? Which players will decide the final?
A: Our biggest strength is Pep Guardiola who has the players in fine form as City look to win UCL. The star players as well who can change matches on a dime and will step up. Two players who could decide the final are Erling Haaland for obvious reasons and Ilkay Gundogan who is on a purple patch of form the last few months. Gundogan, especially, has been key with goals, assists and leadership taking City to already winning the league and FA Cup.
Q: Speaking of star players, how has Erling Haaland changed City since his arrival? How can Inter stop him?
A: He has made them as deadly as ever. From stretching teams to scoring from all kinds of positions, he has been a killer up front. To stop him, follow Madrid, almost a double marking that suffocates him, but be warned as that could free up one of the wingers, KDB or Gundogan to score in the space he opens up.
Q: What would winning the UCL mean to City, from the players to fans?
A: It would be massive, Pep Guardiola has said as much. The cub has been working towards this since the takeover and now have an incredible chance to make it a reality. Supporters here would treasure it, yet know it does not change that City have the best manager that ever lived already in their ranks. For the players, this is why they play right? For a chance at imposing themselves in the biggest club game in football. One that few players on City have won. So, it will mean a lot for everyone.
Q: And lastly, what’s your prediction for Saturday?
A: City will win based on the manager, star players, and this has been the season everything has bounced their way. It is time they claim the first UCL in club history. City 2-0 Inter.
A big thanks to Saul for his time!