He sweated but he made it. He chipped stone like never before but he got ahead. He suffered but he won. Manchester City were justly crowned in Istanbul with the first Champions League in their history to complete a sensational treble. As in 2009 with Barça, Josep Guardiola led his team to victory in all three top competitions. The one that cost him the most, this Saturday against a seasoned Inter. It won't be a match for football lovers to revisit over and over again, quite the contrary, but it will certainly be an unforgettable encounter for a team that has made good play its hallmark. In the final he could not put it into practice as he would have liked but a flash from the Spanish Rodrigo in the second half helped him to tread the pinnacle he was missing. Nobody can argue with City as the current king of football, as the boss to watch and admire. Although in the final it was his turn to row, fight and even ask for the time. That's how you win too.
The British team appeared as the clear favorite. Guardiola assumed it and also Simone Inzaghi, delighted with the covert label with which Italian football has lived since ancient times, a specialist in finding antidotes for any magisterial formula.
Inzaghi's, to advance the pressure more than expected, not lock himself back so as not to feel a possible overwhelm from start to finish and play with time. That is, if you could go little by little better than fast. If there are stops, ideal. If there is no rhythm, honey on flakes. This approach from the Lombard team surprised a City that entered the flour with the nerves of those who feel the responsibility.
Sometimes what is most difficult is doing something for the first time and Guardiola's team was looking to open its showcase as far as the Champions League is concerned. Perhaps for this reason, only a Herculean Ruben Dias was impeccable when cutting while goalkeeper Ederson hesitated and Rodrigo, ultimately the protagonist, did not finish taking over the reins of midfield.
Between the fact that Inter neutralized the spaces in accordion mode and that City was afraid of making some fatal mistake, the game was passing in offensive nothingness. Only from time to time the Istanbul night was peppered with some isolated brushstroke. Like a poisoned shot from Bernardo Silva that passed close to the squad. The only real chance, though, came around half an hour when De Bruyne flipped the switch and activated Haland, who until then had been just a latent threat. The Norwegian's hard shot broke it up, watch out, Onana.
It seemed that the game was on but De Bruyne, after a long attempt, injured his right thigh. He tried to continue but failed. Just like two years ago, the Belgian had to leave the Champions League final early due to a physical mishap.
A hard blow for the interests of Guardiola's team that lost its greatest creative focus and the main feeder of balls for Haland. Foden left and the game didn't change much.
Inter, which is true that hardly generated any danger, was forcing City to chew dirt. Nothing to do with the fur of the game with the semifinals in which the English passed over Madrid with good football rock and roll.
Here the dance was different, of short distances and a lot of breaks and tears because the referee allowed contact.
Guardiola had work for the intermission. The man from Santpedor had to shake the tree of his team because he was not seeing the theoretical superiority of City anywhere.
However, going through the changing rooms did not activate the ideas of the skyblue team, less and less clairvoyant with the ball. Only Stones with his snatches generated superiorities. Meanwhile, Inter continued to feed their faith and Lautaro Martínez was close to taking advantage of a lack of understanding between Bernardo Silva and Akanji. Ederson had to appear with his body to cover the Argentine's shot. Not even Dzeko's injury, which gave way to Lukaku, seemed to worry Inter.
The game was on the sill, as the Italians wanted, but the one who gave the knock was City. In an incursion down the right, Akanji filtered a ball towards Bernardo Silva, whose cross went into the heart of the box. Rodrigo emerged from there to connect an unappealable shot, which freed City and the parish from him.
Of course, the goal had not yet been digested as Inter was on the verge of equalizing with a parabolic header from Dimarco that hit the crossbar.
At last the party was agitated. At last the show was growing and Lukaku was also testing Ederson. In the other area Foden squandered the sentence with a shot that was too focused, although it was stopped by a header from Lukaku that the citizen goalkeeper kicked out. That was where Inter had the draw. But it didn't come. History embraces City.