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The stage is set at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul where Manchester City will look to win their maiden Champions League against Italian giants Inter Milan. With everything on the line this could be a fiery contest where both sets of players go in hard and committed to win their team the trophy. With so much at stake then it makes sense to delve deeper into potential fouls and matchups. Some great value can be found in these markets if you know where to look.
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Man City fouls watch
Manchester City were one of the cleanest teams in the Premier League this season with only West Ham picking up more cards. City averaged just 1.18 cards per match domestically, but it’s been a different story in Europe where they’ve racked up 1.75 in each fixture. Their fouls rate in Europe (9.50) is also slightly higher than in the Premier League (9.10). The tolerance level for cautions in Europe are often far lower with stricter referees which might explain the difference in these numbers.
The other factor to consider is that this competition means everything to Manchester City. The Champions League is where City will be most committed and willing to play dirty. City will be at full strength for this clash and likely lineup in their 3-2-4-1 system. Because Inter play with two strikers there is a chance of a slight change. Rodri and John Stones should once again be in the midfield engine room with Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva out wide.
Ederson a goer if City deploy time-wasting tactics?
The Brazilian international goalkeeper was rested for the FA Cup final. He has produced just one foul all season in all competitions, although racked up four yellow cards. If Inter break the offside trap he could be called upon in a one on one situation.
Nathan Ake eager to impress on return?
The former Bournemouth player has obtained just three yellow cards all season in all competitions. He averages just 0.65 fouls per 90 minutes in Europe and is generally a very clean player. Starting on the left of a back three could see him come into contact with Denzel Dumfries though which is a dangerous matchup.
Ruben Dias to have company
The Portuguese centre back is probably going to be tasked with keeping a lid on either Edin Dzeko or Romelu Lukaku. His physical qualities make him ideal to fulfil his duties here. Dias averages 0.75 fouls per 90 minutes in Europe and 0.83 in the Premier League. He’ll be facing Dzeko who draws 1.53 fouls so it would be expected that he produces at least one foul. A price of 1.50 for 1+ fouls is mightily tempting in the Man City player fouls betting market.
Kyle Walker to nullify inter’s left flank
He has had limited starts in the Champions League this season with just two fouls in 198 minutes of action. In the Premier League he averages just 0.57 fouls per 90. Walker’s incredible pace and one on one ability combined with a great strength in recover means he does not stand out in the fouls market. He might have to contend with Lautaro Martinez, but you would back the England defender to get the better of him consistently.
John Stones learning on the job
At odds of around 1.62 he’s one of the biggest prices to produce a foul in the Man City player fouls betting market. This is justified because Stones has only committed one foul in 540 Champions League minutes this season. In his new midfield half back role he could come up against several different opponents with Nicolo Barella perhaps the most dangerous. The chances are that Stones plays a very clean game though.
Rodri always worth a look for fouls
The Spanish international will likely do most of the dirty work for Man City in the middle of the park. He is a very short price to produce at least one foul (1.17) and also odds-on to foul twice or more. This is fairly justified because he averages 1.29 fouls per 90 in Europe and will have to deal with the likes of Barella, Hakan Calhanoglu and potentially Dzeko if he drops deeper.
big game player Ilkay Gundogan
He actually leads Man City for yellow cards (4) in the Champions League this season, but his foul rate is quite low (0.60). Should Gundogan go in the book it could be for time wasting or something cynical. He is not a persistent fouler, so it probably makes sense to swerve him unless you are looking at the cards market.
Kevin De Bruyne wears his heart on his sleeve
The Belgian playmaker only averages 0.28 fouls per 90 in Europe this season. That rate does increase to 0.71 in the Premier League, and he can be known for producing some lazy tackles from time to time. His odds of around 1.44 for one or more fouls looks short, even considering the fact he may well lock horns with Calhanoglu and Barella from time to time.
Jack Grealish to retaliate?
The charismatic Englishman will have a tough matchup against Denzel Dumfries who is fouled 2.33 times per 90 minutes. With Inter operating in a wing backs system it might be up to Grealish to stop a potential counter attack early. He averages 1.17 fouls per 90 and has a similar rate in the Premier League. Grealish is an emotional player who could get hyped up for the occasion. He produced a whopping four fouls in the FA Cup final and could be of great value in the Man City player fouls betting for either one or multiple cautions.
Fiery Bernardo Silva one to lookout for
The Portuguese winger has a really high average foul rate in the Champions League this season (1.65) and has played relatively dirty this year. Along with Rodri, he has racked up the joint-most yellow cards in all competitions for City by getting cautioned nine times. Facing an Inter team who focus on wing backs then he could be in for a tough test against Federico Dimarco.
eyes on Erling Haaland
The Norwegian goal machine averages roughly one foul per game in most competitions this season. He is a physical forward, and that type of player can often get penalised. If Inter do manage to frustrate him then he could be a candidate for multiple fouls depending on the match situation. His odds of around 1.36 for one foul seem fair considering the occasion.
Inter fouls watch
Similar to Man City, Inter have been more dirty in Europe this season averaging 1.83 cards per match. In Serie A that number was just 1.60 and they played a very clean campaign. The Italian side average more fouls than City in the Champions League (12.50) and there are several contenders to test the referee here. Inter will lineup in their familiar 5-3-2 formation which can put extra pressure on the midfield if the wingbacks are high up the field.
busy night for Andre Onana?
The Inter keeper has only produced one foul all season and obtained two yellow cards. He is an obvious candidate for a card if Inter are in a time wasting situation. Simone Inzaghi’s men are likely to defend deep and probably won’t leave him exposed.
Towering Alessandro Bastoni
Averages 1.29 fouls per 90 in the Champions League this season and is a clear candidate to produce at least one foul in this final. That foul figure drops to 0.75 per 90 minutes in Serie A but he is up against the likes of Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva here. His odds around 1.62 for one or more fouls looks appealing in the Inter player fouls betting market.
Commanding Francesco Acerbi
Statistically, Acerbi is one of cleanest players on the field in this final averaging just 0.49 fouls per 90 mins. He also only picked up five cards all season in Serie A and UCL combined which is impressive for a centre back. Acerbi will be tested more v Man City, but he is one of the biggest prices out of any player to commit one foul or more for good reason.
Former Manchester UNited man Matteo Darmian
In Europe this season Darmian has averaged over one foul per 90, and he has a similar rate in Serie A. Darmian could be dealing with Haaland and De Bruyne but also Jack Grealish cutting inside off the left wing who is a foul magnet. You could definitely consider adding him to your Inter player fouls betting slip.
Ever-improving Federico Dimarco
He will come under pressure at left wing back from either Bernardo Silva or Riyad Mahrez, but Dimarco looks to have the skills to cope fairly well. He is not a persistent fouler only averaging 0.56 per 90 in the Champions League and even less in Serie A. He is one of the biggest prices of anyone involved to have one foul or more and will likely have a clean game.
All-Action Denzel Dumfries
The Dutch wingback averages roughly 1.30 fouls per 90 minutes in both the Champions League and Serie A. It will be very difficult for him in this final against Jack Grealish who is a total foul magnet (3.09 per 90 mins). It is no surprise to see him priced very short for at least one foul. In the Inter player fouls betting market he is odds-on to commit two or more fouls which will certainly attract some interest.
experienced head Marcelo Brozovic
The tenacious Croatian midfielder actually averages less than one foul per 90 in Europe but is known for his combative play. That said, he is an experienced campaigner and knows when to commit a cynical foul if needed. Brozovic has picked up ten cards this season in Serie A and the Champions League combined. He is definitely worth looking at in the cards market because is the type of player who could go into the book for anything.
value on Nicolo Barella
He averages 1.50 fouls per 90 mins in the Champions League and he will have his hands full in midfield. City have a lot of elusive and tenacious players in this part of the field with the duo of De Bruyne and Gundogan especially giving him grief. Gundogan alone attracts 1.40 fouls per 90 in the UCL. It will be difficult for Barella to avoid being penalised and is well worth considering for either one or more fouls.
Dirty Hakan Calhanoglu
Despite only picking up three cards in both the Champions League and Serie A combined, Calhanoglu is the biggest serial fouler for Inter. He averages around 1.65 fouls per 90 in competitive matches and a master at committing small offences which go under the radar. The Turkish international is going to be up against the likes of De Bruyne, Gundogan and Rodri so it will be a busy and energy sapping final for him. He will likely commit at least two fouls here, maybe more.
Danger man Lautaro Martinez
The Argentine World Cup winner is sometimes a pressing forward and averages 1.39 fouls per 90 minutes in Europe. He is operating in a safe area of the field so can commit some offences without being particularly worried. He’s a very short price to commit at least one foul though and there are others out there representing better value.
evergreen Edin Dzeko
Similar to Martinez he is a very short price to commit one or more fouls and others might be of more interest. Dzeko is a very physical striker and will likely go in too hard on at least one occasion. However, there is no guarantee he will even last more than an hour on the field and if you need him to cover multiple fouls then it could be a risk.
Man City vs Inter referee watch
UEFA have dragged in a man for the big occasion ahead of this Champions League final. Polish referee Szymon Marciniak will take charge, and this will not even be his most high profile fixture this season. He was also the man in the middle for the World Cup final, in which he was soundly praised for his performance. Marciniak averages 4.15 cards per game in the Champions league this season and 25.29 fouls. He is the best referee of his generation and commands respect from the players. He tends to give cards when they are deserved and goes by the book.
Man City vs Inter fouls pack bet builder tips
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Manchester City vs Inter Milan
Nicolo Barella is just like Bernardo Silva: small but feisty.
He commits 1.50 fouls p/90 in the Champions League and committed 2 fouls in both the semi-finals. Not only that, but he’s now committed 2 in 4 of his last 6 games in all competitions.
He’s extremely prone to lunging into a tackle with way too much aggression and will often kick out in tackles and duels.
His performance against Milan in both legs of the semi highlights exactly that, kicking out at opposition, lunging into a tackle against Saelemaekers, and refusing to let Theo Hernandez dribble past him after cutting in off the left flank.
Barella’s heat maps show that he mostly covers the right side of the pitch, often defending deep. He found himself against Saelemaekers and Hernandez in that match-up but will have Jack Grealish to deal with here.
Grealish is the best in the business at attempting dribbles and drawing fouls, attempting 4.36 take-ons and drawing 3.09 fouls in the Champions League.
He’s been fouled two or more times in 10 of his last 11 games, and his record in the Champions League this season for being fouled is tremendous: 5, 3, 3, 3, 2, 5.
I can see an identical situation to that of Hernandez in the Milan match.
Calhanoglu is slow to say the least, and he’s going to have real problems up against the technical dribbling of Kevin de Bruyne and the agility of Bernardo Silva.
His foul averages are consistent across competitions, with 1.75 fouls p/90 in both the Champions League and Serie A.
Recently it’s been even more impressive though, with two or more fouls in 6 of his last matches in all competitions – 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2.
Then you look at his numbers in big games: 2 in each of the UCL semi-final legs against Milan, 2 in the Coppa Italia final vs Fiorentina, and 2 in the Supercoppa Italiana final.
Players that can turn him are his kryptonite. Brahim Diaz (a similar player to Bernardo Silva) did so 3 times in the semi-finals.
Diaz was pulled back on the first occasion, illegally obstructed on the second, and got clattered through the back of his legs on the third.
The fourth of Calhanoglu’s fouls across the two legs came from charging into Rade Krunic.
In the Champions League, Bernardo Silva (0.88), Kevin de Bruyne (0.92), and Ilkay Gundogan (1.40) are the most fouled players p/90 in the City side behind Jack Grealish (3.09) and will all find themselves in Calhanoglu’s vicinity, often looking to spin off him.
Jack Grealish may be the player you look to in terms of drawing fouls, but he’s also a serial committer.
He commits 1.17 foul p/90 in the Champions League, and 1.18 in the league.
But this average has increased in recent games, having committed 4 against United in the FA Cup Final, and 2 against Real Madrid in the semi-final second leg.
He’s been reinvigorated with some grit and poor discipline, with 3 bookings in his last 6 starts.
I particularly like this selection as I don’t think the bookies have accounted for his match-up against Denzel Dumfries and Nicolo Barella, who as mentioned earlier spends much of his game on Grealish’s flank.
Dumfries is the most fouled player in the Champions League for Inter, drawing 2.33 fouls p/90. He drew a combined 8 fouls across the two legs against Milan, 6 against Barcelona, and been fouled at least once in all bar two of his Champions League outings.
Barella adds to the equation with another 1.30 fouls drawn p/90 in Europe, and has been fouled at least once in all his last 4.
Bernardo Silva in big games, especially a knockout, LOVES fouls and a card.
A card against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the Champions League, a card against Arsenal in the league, and a card against Chelsea and Bristol City in the FA Cup.
The Portuguese international has the kind of bark and bite that you wouldn’t necessarily expect out of someone of his stature. He’ll constantly nip at his opponents heels and will trip and pull at every given opportunity.
That work rate and battle-hardened attitude is exactly why he finds himself in the side.
Silva averages 1.27 fouls P/90 in the league and 1.67 in the Champions League, yet his recent numbers are quite frankly staggering.
In his last 16 starts in all competitions, Bernardo Silva has committed at least 1 foul in all of them, and at least 2 in 13 of those games.
He committed 2 against United in the FA Cup final, and arguably should’ve been booked. 4 and 3 against Madrid in the UCL semis, 1 and 2 vs Bayern in the quarters, and 1 and 2 vs Leipzig.
Up against Inter, he’s going to find himself up against Hakan Calhanoglu who’s fouled 1.50 times p/90 in the Champions League, and Federico Dimarco who’s fouled another 0.99 times.