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  • Posted by Rayo Online
  • Date : 07 Jun 2023
  • Time : 12:08PM

John Stones and Manchester City are one win away from the treble; City take on Inter Milan in Saturday's Champions League final; Pep Guardiola and Kyle Walker say Inter will cause a lot of difficulties for the Premier League champions.Manchester City defender John Stones says he never thought he would make it as a professional footballer, let alone be on the verge of a treble ahead of his side's Champions League final this weekend.

The England international is likely to start the weekend's European showdown with Inter Milan, where City could add to their season haul of the Premier League and FA Cup - a feat no English side has managed since 1999.The prospective achievement is a far cry from the days when Stones was coming through the academy at Barnsley, the club the 29-year-old began his career at before leaving for Everton a decade ago.

Asked if, when he was coming through the youth ranks at Barnsley, he thought this reality was possible, Stones told Sky Sports News: "Definitely not, it's as simple as that."I never thought I'd be a professional, let alone playing for England, playing in the Premier League, never mind winning the Premier League."It's strange to say it sometimes. From where I came from, the journey and everything that made me who I am today, I can't put it into words sometimes."

Stones was part of the City team that lost the 2021 Champions League final to Chelsea in Porto - and the defender has vowed that a repeat of that outcome cannot afford to happen.Asked what he has learned from that, Stones added: "Don't [let it] happen again, first and foremost.

"It was somewhere where we had never been before and a situation we had never been in. With all the experience that we have and had, sometimes you can't just put it into words or put something on it or know what to do in a certain situation."Now, being through that difficult time, coming out on the losing side was super hard and hit home hard. That's one of the biggest feelings that sticks with you and you don't want to feel that again.

"We have seemed a lot calmer and confident going into this game. Knowing that we should believe in ourselves and in what we have achieved already and how we're playing, there are so many factors that come into play."

  Pep: Inter are dangerous | Walker: We can't just show up for final
City are heavy favourites for Saturday's final in Istanbul but manager Pep Guardiola says Inter Milan possess "a lot of difficulties" which can ruin their treble dream.

Simone Inzaghi's Inter have eight clean sheets in 12 Champions League games this season, including five defensive shut-outs in their six knock-out stage matches.

"They are a team with a lot of history, they have done really well with the shape, it's not just how good they defend," said Guardiola in a press conference.

"It's how good they are in transitions and linking with the strikers. They have a real good process, starting from [Andre] Onana, an exceptional goalkeeper in the build-up - one of the best in the world right now.

"That makes it difficult for our high pressing. They are a really good team, we have watched as much games as possible, I understand the reason why they are there.

"Inter will be a team with a lot of difficulties. It's not easy to attack the defensive system they use. We have to be with a lot of rhythm but be patient. We are not going to do it in three, four passes."We have to use the right tempo that we have to play in these type of games. As much as the game goes through, you become more anxious and that will be a problem.

"They are used to controlling all the games in Italy, they have good patterns and of course we have to defend really, really well.

"It's a final against a top team, we have to do it. We are confident and so optimistic, but at the same time I cannot deny the qualities of the opponents, especially in the final of the Champions League."

Guardiola's message was echoed by defender Kyle Walker, who has shrugged off concerns that he is a fitness doubt for the final.

"It's not 'turn up and Manchester City win the treble,'" Walker said. "Inter have not got there by luck, they've got there by defending well and getting the games through.

"We want to go there and win but I don't think it will be as easy as people are making it out to be. It's a final and anything can happen in 90 minutes of football."