Soccer-Walker misses out for Man City, Inter starting lineup as expected

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Manchester City Training - Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey - June 9, 2023 Manchester City's Ederson during training REUTERS/Molly Darlington

ISTANBUL (Reuters) -Manchester City's Kyle Walker missed out on a starting place in the Champions League final against Inter Milan on Saturday with Nathan Ake slotting into manager Pep Guardiola's defence.

Simone Inzaghi fielded his expected Inter lineup with veteran striker Edin Dzeko forming part of a two-man attack alongside the dangerous Lautaro Martinez.

City also, not surprisingly, brought back first-choice goalkeeper Ederson after he was on the bench for last Saturday's FA Cup final victory over Manchester United in which Stefan Ortega was between the posts.

That win put City within one victory of emulating Manchester United's treble under Alex Ferguson in 1999.

Big favourites City's attack will be spearheaded by Erling Haaland who has scored 52 goals in 52 games this season.

The omission of Walker, who starts on a high-powered bench, was slightly surprising, although the England defender has been troubled by a back injury in the build-up to the game.

Explaining the move, Guardiola told BT Sport: "It was really tough because Kyle is so important. For the way we want to defend and attack we needed a different type of player.

"Italian teams are competitors. Inter have really good patterns. The way they play is so clear. They are incredibly stable and aggressive. To defend and defend, they feel comfortable. It's cultural in Italy. I admire it."

Guardiola, whose tactics and team selection were questioned when City lost to Chelsea in the 2021 final, has shown great faith in his first-choice players during his side's relentless charge in the final third of the season.

City are likely to deploy a four-man defence on Saturday although John Stones can be expected to step into midfield with Guardiola's team likely to have the lion's share of possession.

Rodri and skipper Ilkay Gundogan will anchor the midfield with Kevin De Bruyne again City's playmaker behind Haaland.

Inter line up in the tried and tested 3-5-2 formation that has made them such a tough nut to crack en route to the final, with the back three of Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi and Alessandro Bastoni expected to have a busy night.

Should the 37-year-old Dzeko find the net he would be the oldest player to score in a Champions League final.

Manchester City: 31-Ederson; 6-Nathan Ake, 3-Ruben Dias, 25-Manuel Akanji; 5-John Stones, 16-Rodri; 20-Bernardo Silva, 17-Kevin De Bruyne, 8-Ilkay Gundogan, 10-Jack Grealish; 9-Erling Haaland

Inter: 24-Onana; 36-Matteo Darmian, 15-Francesco Acerbi, 95-Alessandro Bastoni, 2-Denzel Dumfries, 23-Nicolo Barella, 77-Marcelo Brozovic, 20-Hakan Calhanoglu, 32-Federico Dimarco; 10-Lautaro Martinez, 9-Edin Dzeko

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris)

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