The Hard Tackle lists three players who can singlehandedly influence the tie when Manchester City and Inter Milan clash on Saturday.

The 2022/23 season ends this weekend with the UEFA Champions League final. The showpiece event of Europe’s premier club football competition will take place on Saturday, with Manchester City and Inter Milan locking horns at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul.

Manchester City will look back fondly upon the 2022/23 season. And they can go into the history books if they go all the way in the UEFA Champions League. Not only will they break their duck in the competition but also become the second English team to complete the elusive treble. And judging by the way they have played lately, Pep Guardiola’s men are the odds-on favourite for Saturday’s game.

On the other hand, Inter Milan might be the unlikely success story if they win the UEFA Champions League. The Nerazzurri finished second in the group stage behind Bayern Munich. But they have built their European success this season on the back of a fortified backline. However, Simone Inzaghi’s men are the underdogs heading into the clash.

Saturday’s tie will be the first-ever meeting between Manchester City and Inter Milan. And with a few hours remaining for Szymon Marciniak to blow his whistle for kick-off, The Hard Tackle lists three players who can singlehandedly influence the UEFA Champions League final.

Nicolo Barella

The two star strikers will be under the spotlight on Saturday. But before we move on to the duo, we start the list with a player whose creative output will hold the key for the underdogs. So while Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan will be pivotal for Manchester City, Nicolo Barella is the first candidate.

The Italian international has not been at his consistent best in the 2022/23 season. But he remains an instrumental performer for Inter Milan. And if he rises to the occasion, the Nerazzurri can exploit the weaknesses in the Manchester City defence.

Manchester United showed in the FA Cup final last weekend that the Manchester City defence can be the Achilles heel for Pep Guardiola’s formidable side. That is where Barella comes into the equation with his potential to slice open the opposition’s backline.

A game-changing performance can also attract prospective suitors like Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Liverpool. But a summer move is unlikely, with Barella having his sights set on the captain’s armband amid uncertainties surrounding Samir Handanovic’s future.

Erling Haaland

As promised, we are moving on to the players who will hold the key in the final third. And we begin with the most prolific attacker in the world in the 2022/23 season. We are, of course, talking about Manchester City talisman Erling Haaland.

The Norwegian international showed no teething problems after arriving from Borussia Dortmund. So contrary to popular belief, the youngster took the Premier League by storm instead of struggling in the early stages of his Manchester City stint. And he is ending the season with over 50 goals and nearly ten assists.

That said, goals have dried up for Haaland in the last few weeks. And the 22-year-old has managed to find the back of the net only two times in eight games since the start of May. But that does not bother Haaland, who remains unfazed.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker has insisted that he is “not stressed” about his recent drought. And that is the attitude he will need to keep to guide Manchester City to the pinnacle of European football on Saturday. Expect a dominant performance by the youngster.

Lautaro Martinez

We move on to the other facet of the battle between the two star strikers as we end our list. And while Erling Haaland will hold the key for Manchester City, Lautaro Martinez will need to be sharp in the final third for Inter Milan.

The Argentine international has had phases where he has gone missing. But he has been in phenomenal touch in the last few weeks, playing a pivotal role in Inter Milan clinching a top-four finish. And he has racked up 28 goals and 11 assists in all competitions thus far this season.

Speaking of his recent record, the 25-year-old has amassed seven goals and three assists since the start of May. That is the polar opposite of Haaland’s record in the last 40 days, meaning he is the in-form attacker heading into the UEFA Champions League final.

Meanwhile, unlike Haaland, Martinez does not have the luxury of having many other alternatives to him in the Inter Milan lineup to find the back of the net. So it is imperative that he rises to the occasion and delivers the goods. And he can script history by winning the World Cup and the Champions League in the same season.

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