After a 14/1 winner in the Champions League semi-final, Tom Carnduff returns to select three best bets for the final, with a focus on Manchester City and a headline 25/1 tip.
1pt John Stones to be UEFA Player of the Match at 25/1 (bet365)
1pt Rodri to score anytime at 9/1 (Sky Bet)
1pt Jack Grealish to score anytime at 11/2 (Unibet)
Patience is a virtue, or so the proverb tells us anyway. Despite all the success delivered under Pep Guardiola, and indeed in the years before his arrival, the Champions League is the one trophy that's evaded Manchester City. It's odds-on to arrive on Saturday night.
This isn't painting them as some kind of heroic underdog by the way, far from it, but the potential for the European crown completing an historic treble just adds to the significance of what was already a massive occasion.
In just their second Champions League final, City are the 1/5 favourites to lift the trophy. The road to Istanbul has been a difficult one - they've seen off Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the knockouts - yet this is truly the best opportunity they'll ever see to become champions of the continent.
There's already been English success in Europe this week, with West Ham lifting the Europa Conference League trophy after victory over Fiorentina in Prague.
Social media has since been active in highlighting that the 'last time' West Ham won a European final (1965), so too did Inter. That is definitely going to have some impact here, isn't it?
Counterpoint, the internet tells me that West Ham won the Intertoto Cup in 1999, the same year a team from Manchester did the treble. Also, THREE teams won the Intertoto Cup every season? What is all that about? Maybe it's my age here.
Essentially, don't get drawn into narratives around big occasions. The past is the past, live in the moment, travel the world, focus on the here and now.
Errrr, sorry, yes, back to the football. This Inter side has an 'all or nothing' feel about it in terms of the results. They drew just three of their 38 Serie A games this season - even City were held on five occasions in the Premier League.
Guardiola's side should be on the front foot here given the difference in quality which justifies the match prices.
As such there are a couple of goalscorer prices that jump out and, at 9/1, I'm happy to back RODRI TO SCORE ANYTIME again.
Despite a 'defensive' position in the starting line-up, the midfielder contributes in attack with a decent tally of shots. Across 47 league and Champions League appearances, Rodri has posted a total of 66.
That is all games, with three of those being appearances from the bench. It will also include contests where he has been a centre-back at times. When featuring in midfield, he is seeing chances on goal.
It's also slightly surprising to see prices of 11/2 available for JACK GREALISH TO SCORE ANYTIME given his performances throughout the second-half of the campaign.
In his 20 games following the World Cup break, Grealish has averaged 1.90 shots per 90, leading to an average of 0.19 xG. Compare that to Kevin De Bruyne - 3/1 for a goal - who is on 2.00 shots but 0.14 xG.
Five of Grealish's final six starts in the Premier League saw at least two shots, with four of those having three. He found the net in back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Southampton.
It depends somewhat on how adventurous Inter will allow Denzel Dumfries to be, particularly if they are trailing, but Grealish should see opportunities to strike with ex-Manchester United man Matteo Darmian holding a 'defence first' approach on the right side of the back-three.
The last of the three selections is the biggest price of them all, and I'm intrigued by the 25/1 available on JOHN STONES TO BE PLAYER OF THE MATCH as awarded by UEFA.
Stones picked up this accolade in their 3-0 win over Bayern at the quarter-finals stage, and it's not necessarily a prize that solely favours the attacking players. Thibaut Courtois won last season (understandably given his saves), N'Golo Kanté in 2021 and Virgil van Dijk in 2019.
He has flourished in the new defensive midfielder role, and while Ilkay Gundogan scored twice in the FA Cup final, Stones' performance was superb. A repeat would certainly catch the eyes of the technical committee who make the decision.
City should be largely untroubled but there will be a spell where Inter push if they are behind late on. A composed performance throughout the 90 minutes should see Stones high up on the shortlist and he's considered good value.
Ultimately, City should have more than enough to lift the Champions League trophy and complete the treble.
They are a class above the large majority of all opponents, let alone those who failed to win their domestic leagues. Backing GREALISH, RODRI and STONES in their respective markets delivers much better value.
Patience is indeed a virtue, as Guardiola and his squad will understand come the early hours of Sunday morning.
Score prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Inter (Sky Bet odds: 6/1)
Odds correct at 1145 BST (08/06/23)
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