Bastoni, Barella, and De Bruyne: Who Makes Our Star-Studded Manchester City & Inter Milan Combined XI?

Published on 18 May 2023 at 20:00

And then there were two. English Champions Manchester City and Italian Underdogs Inter Milan: one of these teams will be the next winner of the UEFA Champions League in what is an intriguing tie set to take place in Istanbul on the 10th of June.  


Manchester City looked more dominant than ever in their Semi-Final demolition of defending Champions Real Madrid, emerging 5-1 winners on aggregate after a particularly spectacular performance at the Etihad Stadium.


Inter Milan meanwhile faced no trouble against their arch rivals AC Milan, as the Nerazzurri breezed to comfortable wins during both legs at the San Siro.


Now, with less than a month before the prestigious final, HL Division Sport is taking a look at both squads and seeing who would make a combined XI from these two star-studded squads, let us know who makes your lineup over on our official social channels and in the comments below.


Goalkeeper: Andre Onana

Although Ederson may have conceded 4 goals in the Champions League this campaign, he has an almost watertight defence in front of him to thank for this astounding achievement. 


Andre Onana however has become a goalkeeper Inter Milan have been able to rely upon at each stage of this season’s competition, as he can boast the most saves and clean sheets in the entire competition.


The Cameroonian keeper’s free transfer from Ajax is slowly showing signs of being one of the signings of the season! The 27-year-old will be looking to become just the 2nd goalkeeper from Africa to win the UEFA Champions League (after Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy in 2021) and just the 3rd one overall (after Zimbabwe’s Bruce Grobbelaar way back in 1984).


Right Back: Kyle Walker

Doubts and concerns over whether Kyle Walker still had ‘it’ have emerged many times this season, particularly after Pep Guardiola publicly stated that the England international didn’t fit his system back in early April.


But these concerns have been firmly put to bed following Walker’s recent performances, particularly against brilliant Brazilian wingers like Gabriel Martinelli and Vinicius Junior, where the soon-to-be 33-year-old has shown just how incredible his speed and defensive capabilities can be. 


As we enter an era of full backs who focus on passing proficiency and being more de-facto midfielders than defenders, Walker is still starring as the last of the ‘old guard’ type of full backs. 


Centre Back: John Stones

Is there a player who has flourished and improved more under Pep Guardiola this season than John Stones?


Affectionately dubbed ‘The Barnsley Beckenbauer’ by fans, Stones has cemented himself as an impassable rock in the heart of City’s defence. 


With an exceptional pass accuracy, range and playmaking ability that perfectly suits the Pep Guardiola style of play, you would be hard pressed to find a better, more consistently brilliant CB in world football right now than the 28-year-old Englishman. 


Centre Back: Alessandro Bastoni

As the old Italian guard of Chiellini and Bonucci are set to retire, they can rest assured that a new formidable Italian CB is ready to breakout on the continental stage: his name is Alessandro Bastoni. 


Exuding confidence and composure every time he steps on the field, even when facing an unpredictable Benfica side and eternal rivals AC Milan in the knockout stages of this season’s competition, Bastoni epitomises everything we come to expect of your traditional Italian CB.


All set to sign a new contract with the side, Bastoni’s Inter Milan journey has seen him scoop a Scudetto and a Supercup already, could club football’s greatest prize be coming soon…?


Left Back: Nathan Ake

Who is regretting leaving their club more right now, Nathan Jones with Luton, or Joao Cancelo with Manchester City?


After the Portuguese star’s unexpected exit during the January transfer window in favour of Bayern Munich, Guardiola has had to rely upon his strong set of CBs to be a LB he can depend on. 


Whilst Aymeric Laporte and Manuel Akanji have served Guardiola well here, the nod for best LB between Man City and Inter Milan right now must go to the much-improved Nathan Ake.


A tall, physical presence that can still fulfil key passing and distribution duties, whether the Dutchman will play in the Champions League final following his ongoing fitness battles is a question for another day, but like the aforementioned John Stones, he’s become a player whom Guardiola is sorely hoping becomes part of his plans at such a crucial stage in the season. 


Central Defensive Midfielder: Rodri

Recent seasons have shown an increased emphasis on just how important a solid CDM is to a team’s overall success. 


Man City fans will be all too familiar to how poor their side was in their previous Champions League final effort without one to rely upon, as N’Golo Kante completely dominated the midfield battle in the 2021 final in Porto.


But Rodri has been absolutely imperious in the City midfield since he arrived in England, showcasing his excellence in maintaining possession, producing killer passes, and even creating the odd chance or goal of his own.  


Barring a poorly-timed injury between now and the 10th of June, is a lock to start not only in Istanbul, but for any game played by any team on the planet today. 


Centre Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne

From the best defensive midfielder in the world to the best midfielder in the world, Kevin De Bruyne has been against the very best in football this season and has outshone them all. 


The assist leader in each of the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup this season, there’s no telling just how amazing De Bruyne will perform every time he steps on the pitch. An injury at the hands of Antonio Rudiger cost him a key role in his last UCL final appearance, so he’ll be looking to make up for that this time around. 


The Belgian architect may not have many seasons left at Manchester City, but he remains truly unrivalled in 2023, and is likely to remain so for the rest of his City career.


Centre Midfielder: Nicolo Barella 

The man at the top of many a Premier League team’s Summer transfer list, Nicolo Barella is the prototypical Italian midfielder: a metronome on the heart of the pitch dictating the play in every performance. 


Similar to De Bruyne and Rodri, Barella’s greatest strength is his versatility: as effective further up the pitch as he in the centre of it, not many players in Europe right now can be both a box-to-box player, deep-lying playmaker, and attacking midfielder quite like the 26-year-old is showing he can be.


Nearing double digits for both goals and assists in club colours this season, Barella and compatriot Bastoni are the heart and soul of this Inter Milan team under Simone Inzaghi, and are arguably the catalyst for the club’s ongoing cup success.


Right Forward: Lautaro Martinez


After a highly-criticised World Cup campaign for Argentina, in spite of his country’s eventual win in the competition, Lautaro Martinez has been an attacker reborn following his return from Qatar.


A truly indispensable player causing chaos for defenders both domestically and internationally, the 25-year-old is just one goal away from making the 2022-23 season his best goalscoring season yet, with 25 goals scored so far in all competitions. 


If Lautaro Martinez was to spearhead Inter Milan’s attack to glory on the 10th of June, then he will become only the 11th different player to win both the World Cup and Champions League/European Cup in the same year, putting Martinez in fine company with such legendary forwards like Gerd Muller and Uli Hoeness. 


Left Forward: Jack Grealish


Jack Grealish missed a brilliant chance in last year’s Semi-Final versus Real Madrid that would have certainly seen the Cityzens through, in what was a negative debut campaign for the former Aston Villa attacker. 


This campaign however, Grealish has been nothing short of spectacular. Having recorded the most chances by a single English player in a UCL season (having surpassed Frank Lampard’s tally of 34 in 2007/08) with his strong performances against Real Madrid, Grealish has finally forced himself into becoming a near-constant starter for his club. 


It’s long been joked that a player’s ‘second season’ playing for Pep Guardiola is where they start to transform into a world-class player, but this joke is very much the truth for Jack Grealish, and he’s proving to be a delight to watch week in and week out. 

Striker: Erling Haaland


The tournament’s top goalscorer. The seemingly-constant record breaker. Soon to be the main star in the final act of City’s story of triumph and glory?


People are running out of ways to praise Erling Haaland, as the Norwegian will look to cement his legendary debut season by scooping the treble and finally helping City secure that ever-elusive Champions League trophy.


Whilst Dixie Dean’s domestic record might be a feat too great for Haaland to surpass (for this season at least, he still has some years left on his current contract), there should be no doubt that Haaland will continue to break records in both the Premier League and Champions League for years to come.


Who makes your combined XI between Manchester City and Inter Milan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and our official social media channels today! And as always, be sure to check out the rest of HL Division Sport for more insightful, cutting-edge sports content.

Image Credit: Shutterstock User Vlad1988


Add comment


There are no comments yet.