November 28, 2023
Key eventsShow key events onlyPlease turn on JavaScript to use this featureAnd that concludes the blog for the day. Plenty of preview features to come.......

Key events

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And that concludes the blog for the day. Plenty of preview features to come before kick-off.

Pep was asked about Erling Haaland’s goal drought.

🗣 “If you have doubts about Haaland scoring goals, you will a lonely person.”

Pep Guardiola refuses to look into Erling Haaland’s conversion statistics 😂

— Football Daily (@footballdaily) June 9, 2023

Dangers from Inter, according to Pep.

Onana is a great goalkeeper, the processes, Bastoni on the left side. The quality to link with the strikers, the ability for an extra pass. We have to try to defend, I don’t know how, but defend these connections. With the ball, try to attack. Difficult against five at the back, we try to find a solution to be more effective to find a solution.

🗣 “It’s a day to be happy, to celebrate being here.”

Pep Guardiola highlights the importance of a positive atmosphere from the Manchester City fans 🙌

— Football Daily (@footballdaily) June 9, 2023

Updated at 18.04 BST

Pep on playing in finals.

You have to be stable in finals. Lots of control, they are a master to defend. You have to be patient. The most important is that at 0-0 thinking we are losing, we are not losing. Italian teams think they’re winning. Be stable, in the bad moments step forward. Never know what will happen, 1-0 down or up. In both circumstances, be stable.

Pep on comparisons with 2021’s final.

I would like to tell you the lessons but I don’t know. It’s a different game, two years, different players. Two seasons ago, what we planned was try to do a good game vs Chelsea. It didn’t work, people say the decision was wrong. I have a plan tomorrow, communicate to the ideas. If we have success will be good. We are ready the players will give everything, knowing and respecting the opponents. Go for it.

Pep on booing the Uefa anthem. This one may not fly with the City fans.

Inter fans, City fans, a day to be happy. Celebrate being here. Finish, what happens in the past is the past. It’s an incredible competition, UEFA organise it, we support unconditionally what they’re doing. We aren’t going to boo again and have fun.

Pep on the historic legacies of Inter and City.

I saw as many Inter games to see what we have to do. At the end it’s a football game. The team who perform better over 95 minutes will win. Over history, Inter are bigger than us. It’s not important. Important is tomorrow at 10pm Istanbul time we do the best performance as possible.

Pep Guardiola now takes centre stage. And starts off strongly.

It’s absolutely a dream. Absolutely. To achieve things always have to have the correct portion of obsession, desire. Obsession is a positive word. It’s a dream for all of us.

More Kevin De Bruyne, making the comparison with the 2021 final lost to Chelsea.

I don’t feel a lot of difference, maybe the difference is we have to play the final last week. Was a different prospect than 2021 when we had a long two weeks in preparation. Maybe a good thing to play 90 minutes against United. How I prepare myself I don’t want to do too many things different. It’s a more hectic week but the rest I maintain as normal as possible.

Jamie Jackson captured the mood in the Inter camp.

Hakan Calhanoglu, who is expected to start for Inter, was born in Germany but opted to play for Turkey owing to his heritage. Ilkay Gündogan, who was also born in Germany and has Turkish antecedents, plays for Germany. Calhanoglu suggested Turks may prefer him to win the final rather than Gündongan.

“I love Ilkay,” he said. “I respect him so much. I respect his decision to play for Germany. I know it’s very important for two Turks to play in this final. I know Turks will be supporting me. Perhaps for my people it is important that I win.”

KDB on Inter’s formation.

We understand Inter, they are compact, play a 5-3-2, the two strikers hold the ball well and they have runners from midfield. They defend incredibly well. We don’t expect an open game, that doesn’t happen a lot in finals. We shouldn’t get too nervous too quickly. Maybe there won’t be a lot of early chances. We have to play the way we do, be comfortable, and hopefully find openings and score goals.

Obsession or dream fulfilled in Istanbul?

Maybe both, depends who you ask. Every professional player wants to win the CL, with their teams and individually. If you win it, it’s one of the biggest things you can do as a player and a team. To compete year in year out is amazing, Ive competed against the best players.

Kevin De Bruyne is next up, and he’s describing the mood in the Manchester City camp, the classic first question dolly-up.

I’ve been here a long time, for me it’s been incredible the eight years I’ve been here. Lots of high moments, obviously we’ve competed in this competition but not been able to win it yet. It’s the only remark people can give us. We’ve been consistent, good in this competition. We need to find a way to win the first one. It would be immense for the players, club, fans. It would be amazing.

Ruben Dias giving it some High Performance.

We love the pressure since a long time, we love it. In the right measure it will make you run faster, jump higher, be more focussed. It’s what these games need, we embrace it. We enjoy the moment, know what it means to our club and fans and our families. We never forget to enjoy it.

The Manchester City MD-1 press conference has begun, with Ruben Dias leading the way.

The biggest mistake we can make is to forget that this is a final. People can say whatever they want but in my mind, and our minds, there are no favourites in this game, no matter what you have done to reach it. When you are here you can only be a favourite on the pitch when you get on the pitch and start doing things.

Not just now in these final moments, but I’ve been saying for a long time, it’s the sweet spot. You can see the character of a team in these stages. You can see whether they want to move forward or starts hiding. Our team shows up every time and tomorrow will be no different.

Updated at 17.30 BST

Louise Taylor on that highly competitive Newcastle sponsorship deal.

Football Daily has dropped. Do make sure to sign up for more.

David Hytner spoke to Erling Haaland.

Haaland is asked whether he would have believed all this at the start of the season – the possibility of the treble, the number of goals he has scored. His first reaction is no. But then he rows back.

“When you look at the team and how close they’ve been with every single trophy, every single season … it’s not like it’s been not possible,” Haaland says. “We have been believing in ourselves ever since I came here.

“I didn’t expect to score this many goals but, again, I could have scored more. I’ve been missing a lot of chances, so I could have scored more. That’s the truth.”

Jamie Jackson, our man in Manchester runs down City’s journey to destiny in Istanbul.

Manchester City’s journey to the edge of football immortality – video explainer

More Simone Inzaghi, on Erling Haaland for starters.

We all know what a great player he is and how strong City are. We will be marked tightly, however we will keep a close eye on all the City players, We need to stop Haaland and also the other players.

We have practiced penalties all season long. We will practice and prepare for penalties. City have a solid defence, they afford a few chances. We need to be our best to beat them. They are a complete side, we know what team we will face tomorrow. They are a respected side, we need to be up to standard.

We want to fly the flag for Serie A tomorrow. We need to focus on ourselves and our match. Serie A sides have done well to reach finals.

Inzaghi on where the final will be won and lost:

“The midfield will be key tomorrow but all areas will be important. We will need to run and we need hearts and minds too. We need to go the extra yard tomorrow. We need to stay sharp and focused, we need to give our all, we need heart to get over the finishing line.”

Inzaghi has spoken about the final test against City. Photograph: Michael Regan/UEFA/Getty Images

Updated at 16.38 BST

Simone Inzaghi on Champions League final

The Inter manager is ready for his big moment.

“We know the match we need to play, we know City are a top team. They are the best team in the world right now. They have proved this even when they have lost. We are proud to be at this stage, we will give our all. We will play with total focus, we will need to limit our errors.

“This is the 57th game of the season. It has been a very long season – we have had highs and lows. In the lows, we improved and grew. We have learnt from our defeats, we have had our share of injuries too.

“The players have dug deep and worked hard. Our efforts have brought us here to this moment.”

Lautaro Martínez, a World Cup winner in December.

These are the two major finals a footballer can play. You know you have made it to the end thanks to all the hard work you have done throughout the year and teamwork. If you want to achieve your goal this is the very last step and we must be ready to take it. It will be a very important game for everyone at Inter and the club. We deserve to be here. We have worked hard to be here with the staff.”

Updated at 16.33 BST

Inter’s MD-1 press conference has been taking place after some traffic problems. It’s not been scintillating stuff, lots of “we want to win” but more follows.

Inter’s Lautaro Martinez in the #UCLfinal press conference:

“ I haven’t spoken to [Argentina team mate] Julian Alvarez. I got married recently but he was unable to attend. That was the last time we spoke.”@dw_sports

— Matt Pearson (@thisismpearson) June 9, 2023

Everton news. Feels like Sean Dyche is keeping on senior pros for another push at…survival.

Petr Cech, no longer a suit at Chelsea, is back in a net-minders’ jersey.

Daniel Boffey

Daniel Boffey is on the ground in Istanbul.

“We’ve nothing to lose”, said Francesco Camisso, 50, a banker from Milan, as he posed by giant football on Taksim Square. “We have heart but Manchester City are a very powerful team”, added Stefana Mattero, 27, an electrician, with a shrug.

Yet, the diagnosis by Joe Royle, City manager in the tumultuous 1998-2001 period, of “City-itis”, that fear held deep within the club’s fanbase that if something can go wrong that it will go wrong and that even things that shouldn’t go wrong, still tend to do so, lingered in the humid air of the Turkish city on Friday.

“They don’t remember”, said Chris Danson, 57, an NHS worker from Wigan, pointing to his 29-year-old son Nathan, who had flown in from Vancouver for the match, and his friends.

My score was 15/16 on this. Beat that.

David John Watton adds to the Perleberg decrees.

  • David Moyes’ West Ham, champions of (some of) Europe

  • The hilarity of Man United’s early season, then the extra hilarity of a 5’9” centre back being laughed out of the league before he’d even started – then becoming the best defender in the league

  • Ivan Toney, taking the sportsperson’s mantra of “I bet on myself” all too literally

  • Nathan Jones

Ange Postecoglou has issued a video to Tottenham fans.

It’s great to finally get started as manager of this great football club. I’m really looking forward to our task ahead. I think it’s an exciting opportunity for us to now set off on a new direction, play football and create an environment that embodies the values and traditions of this fantastic football club.

Hopefully a team that you can all be proud of, and more importantly get excited by.
I can assure you that right through pre-season we won’t leave any stone unturned, myself, the staff and the players, to make sure that when the league comes around you will be as excited as I am about the season ahead. So I really look forward to seeing everyone at the stadium, in particular at our first home game, and I look forward to the journey ahead.

Word has it that this is Ange’s favourite painting.

Updated at 15.16 BST

Kurt Perleberg has decided to sum it all up for us: “Is it just me or that the club football season has been so wild?”

  • Erling Haaland

  • Drama at Chelsea

  • Arsenal throwing the title away

  • Fulham’s rapid rise

  • the World Cup

  • Wrexham

  • Newcastle’s rapid rise

  • Napoli’s rapid rise

  • Drama with Gregg Berhalter & the USMNT

  • Cristiano Ronaldo’s disastrous interview with Piers Morgan

  • Wolves in last place on Boxing Day

  • Ronaldo’s transfer to Al-Nassr

  • FC Barcelona winning La Liga under Xavi

  • Messi’s disastrous trip to Saudi Arabia

  • Drama at PSG

  • Juventus & its many scandals

  • Manchester United sale drama

  • Liverpool’s up and down season

  • Rise of Aston Villa

  • Downfall of Leicester City

  • Jamie Vardy’s MLS Next Pro team going defunct

  • Luton Town getting promoted to the Premier League

  • Saudi Arabia taking control of the top 4 clubs in that country

  • More Ronaldo drama in Saudi Arabia

  • Karin Benzema leaving Real Madrid

  • Jordi Alba & Sergio Busquets leaving FC Barcelona

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic retiring

  • & Lionel Messi’s massive transfer to MLS side Inter Miami.

English FA win tussle over World Cup 2023 players release

From 19 June, Sarina Wiegman will be able to call up her players, the only doubt being Georgia Stanway at Bayern Munich. More to follow but an FA Statement below:

‘We are grateful for the mutual understanding of the clubs, as we have collectively worked towards a solution with the wellbeing of players at the heart.

All parties recognise we are not only preparing them to be fresh and fit for the intensity of a World Cup, but that a thorough preparation phase, including vital downtime with family and friends, will also benefit the players after the finals.

We look forward to welcoming them to St. George’s Park when they return from a well-earned rest.

In the meantime, it is important the whole game comes together to address and solve the wider issues of the fixture calendar.

Updated at 14.47 BST

Bad news for the Fun88 admirers among the Toon Army but good news that this was such a competitive process to deliver a Saudi Arabian events company and £25m per season.

⚫️⚪️ BREAKING: #NUFC confirm major new shirt sponsorship deal with Saudi Arabian events company Sela….

🗣️ Darren Eales: “This partnership follows a highly competitive commercial process and we believe we have found the perfect front of shirt partner.”

— Scott Wilson (@Scottwilsonecho) June 9, 2023

Handing over now, to my esteemed colleague John Brewin, who will take you through the afternoon while I grab a chicken wrap. The pre-Champions League final press conferences are coming up later today, I believe.

Over to you, John.

Updated at 14.09 BST

Shane Duffy has gone to Norwich from Fulham, in a transfer that feels entirely right. (Has he been there before? Answer: somehow not)

Welcome to Norwich City, @shaneduffy 💪

The Republic of Ireland international has signed for the club on a three-year deal, effective from July 1 🇮🇪

— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) June 9, 2023

Manchester United takeover news, now. And, bing bong, this is an announcement for the attention of the Glazer family … Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani’s final bid of no more than £6bn will stay live even if the Glazers fail to respond to it by the Qatari’s self-imposed deadline – which is today.

Jamie Jackson has the full story, the latest in what is becoming a protracted saga.

Updated at 13.53 BST

On that news that Konraid Laimer has joined Bayern … an email from Paulo Biriani:

It’s must be so depressing for fans of other German clubs. And it just makes their league even more boring.

Thank god it doesn’t happen in England.

Inter fans have descended on Istanbul. They’ll be viewing tomorrow night’s game as a shot to nothing, while secretly believing they can pull off an upset. They are the cup kings under Simone Inzaghi after all.

Inter fans enjoy themselves in Istanbul. Photograph: Ümit Bektaş/Reuters

Maddison and Rice transfer news

Some big transfer stories today from The Guardian’s team of dedicated football correspondents:

  • Tottenham and Newcastle are battling to sign James Maddison from Leicester, writes Fabrizio Romano

  • West Ham, meanwhile are targeting Ajax’s Edson Álvarez as a replacement for the outgoing Declan Rice, according to Jacob Steinberg

  • The Rumour Mill also includes speculation on Kalvin Phillips (West Ham), Riyad Mahrez (Saudi Arabia) as well as Harry Kane, Kim Min-Jae and Benjamin Pavard (all Manchester United, apparently)

James Maddison is attracting plenty of interest this summer Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Quiz time! How is your knowledge of Champions League and European Cup finals?

I tested this one out yesterday before it was published and scored a disgraceful 10/16. Some ropey answers in the pre-1992 questions. My colleague John Brewin fared much better with 15. Have a go and let us know your scores.

An email. This one comes from Kurt Perleberg and it’s hard to argue with, unless you’re a Manchester City or Inter fan of the Milan kind, of course.

As you and me all know the biggest story in not just football but all of sport this week is Lionel Messi’s shocking transfer to Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami.

Updated at 13.01 BST

Another Bundesliga related transfer titbit for you, here, with Konrad Laimer’s move from RB Leipzig to Bayern Munich confirmed. The 26-year-old joins on a free transfer.

Not like Bayern to sweep up all the talent from German football’s lesser lights, is it?

Incidentally, you can keep up to scratch on all this summer’s transfer deals from Europe’s big five leagues on The Guardian’s interactive transfer tracker.

Keïta joins Werder Bremen

Naby Keïta has a new club. After his release from Liverpool, the midfielder has returned to the Bundesliga and joined Werder Bremen. He should do well there.

Updated at 12.45 BST

Thanks Will. A nice busy pre-Champions League final day to get me going then.

The question many are asking is: do Inter have any chance whatsoever in Istanbul? Our resident Italian football expert Nicky Bandini picks out five players in Simone Inzaghi’s team who could cause Manchester City some problems.

(And I for one am shocked that Romelu Lukaku hasn’t made the cut).

Updated at 13.52 BST

Right, that’s yer lot from me. I’m handing over to Dominic Booth, who’s making his debut on the blog. Remember to be kind online, please.

Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, Kyle Walker has reiterated his desire to match the United side which overcame Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou 24 years ago to secure an unprecedented Treble. “I think when we won the Premier League we didn’t want to talk about the Treble because you’ve still got a game at Wembley against your arch rivals,” he said.

“Now, when that win came, you can’t beat about the bush – it’s there. If us players want to go and be associated with the team of Manchester United [in 1999] we need to take this opportunity. Hopefully we can do it, walk out from Istanbul with a beer in our hands celebrating and be Treble winners.”

Kyle Walker applauds the Manchester City fans following victory in the FA Cup final. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Updated at 12.45 BST

You can never have too much Jonathan Wilson, can you? Here he is with the tactical lowdown on Inter, whose front two, back three, attacking wing-backs and muscular midfield could all cause problems for City.

Back to the Champions League final, then. City fans have started to arrive in Istanbul and they’ve brought their giant banners with them.

Manchester City fans pose in front of an oversized replica Champions League trophy. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Here’s a little reminder of Foster’s heroics as Wrexham clinched the National League title, thanks in no small part to his penalty save to deny Cedwyn Scott as the Welsh side won 3-2 against their nearest rivals, Notts County, at the Racecourse Ground.

Let’s take our tatty old Champions League hat off for a second, and replace it with the shimmering tiara of League Two. In news that will come as sweet music to the ears of Wrexham fans, Ben Foster has signed a one-year contract extension and will stick with the newly promoted side for their first season in the Football League for 15 years. “At the end of last season it was obvious that I enjoyed being at the club, I loved being part of the team and everything that Wrexham stands for,” he said. “I’d decided before the end of last season I wanted to do it, because it feels like home. I’ve never joined a football club and felt at ease so quickly.”

Chelsea sign Macario

More transfer news? Oh, go on then. Over in the WSL, Chelsea have signed Catarina Macario from Lyon on a three-year contract. “I can’t wait to get started here,” the USA forward told the club website. “I’m really happy to sign for Chelsea and I hope to represent the jersey well over the next few years.”

Updated at 12.46 BST

Some transfer news for you now. Having moved to France last September, Ross Barkley has been released by Nice and is now a free agent. Nicolas Pépé and Joe Bryan will also depart the club, having spent the season on loan from Arsenal and Fulham respectively.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live before making the trip to Turkey, Erling Haaland has raised the terrifying prospect of getting better at football. “I am still young and can improve a lot,” he said. “There are a lot of things I can do as there is a lot to improve.

“But I am in the perfect place, working with the best coach and the best players in the world. Pep is a details freak and all about developing them.”

Erling Haaland disembarks in Istanbul. Photograph: Oliver Hardt/UEFA/Getty Images

Updated at 11.26 BST

Here’s one more to be going on with: John Stones on his standout season and how he has turned things around under Guardiola’s guidance.

Phil Mongredien isn’t as impressed by City’s relentless onwards march. “Many football fans actively loathe the way that City’s financial muscle has distorted the English game over the past 15 years,” he notes. “Having succeeded in making the Premier League so boringly predictable, extending that chokehold to Europe by beating Inter on Saturday would hardly be something to celebrate.

“And that’s before we even get to the more than 100 financial doping charges brought against the club by the Premier League earlier this year – which they vociferously deny. As long as this enormous question mark is hanging over whether they reached their position of dominance by effectively cheating, why would any neutral want them to (further) prosper?”

Updated at 11.19 BST

Karen Carney feels City’s success is symptomatic of the strength of the Premier League more broadly. “The competitive nature of the Premier League is helping its clubs in Europe,” she writes. “City rarely had an easy weekend this season and had to fight for their points, regardless of who they were playing. There is strength throughout the league, which means the best teams have to push themselves … the need to maintain standards benefits a club such as City when they face quality opposition in the Champions League.”

Jonathan Wilson has dipped into the 15th anniversary edition of Inverting the Pyramid, charting the rise of superclubs, mega-spending, celebrity players and modern managers. Contains added Guardiola.

Let’s kick off with some of our coverage from the past week, building up to the big game in Istanbul. First up, here’s what Kyle Walker had to say when asked about City’s ambition of emulating Manchester United’s 1999 Treble winners.


The countdown to the Champions League final has begun, with Manchester City and Inter fans no doubt veering between excitement, anxiety and deep, gut-wrenching nausea. This is it: the Big One, the Grand Finale, the Golden Goblet, the Destroyer of Worlds. Pep Guardiola laid out what’s at stake earlier this week when he said: “We must accept that if we want to make a definitive step as a big club, we must win in Europe. We have to win the Champions [League] – that’s something you can’t avoid.” No pressure, then, lads. Not that pressure has been much of a problem this season, given City have already won the Double and utterly crushed all challengers to their imperial dominance.

Updated at 11.25 BST

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