Inter Milan will have an almighty task on their hands in the Champions League final, with the imperious Manchester City standing in the way of a fourth European crown for the Nerazzurri.
Somewhat surprising qualifiers for the final, Inter progressed after a well-deserved win over city rivals AC Milan in the semi-finals, winning 3-0 on aggregate having dispatched of Benfica and Porto earlier in the knockout phase.
Their defensive game plan was well executed against Milan, but Inter will face an altogether more challenging test against the champions of England on June 10.
At the heart of their defence will be Italian centre back Francesco Acerbi.
The defender, on loan from Lazio, has been almost ever present this season, and will form the crux of the back three that will be tasked with stopping the most dangerous striker in world football - Erling Haaland.
Haaland is currently on an astonishing 52 goals from 50 games in his first season with City, and has scored 12 in 10 in the Champions League.
It will be a tall order to stop the Norwegian in the final in Istanbul - but Acerbi got a hilarious helping hand from the Inter fans this week, as a "lucky charm" with which to stop the City number nine.
Inter fans gift Acerbi with fisihing net to stop Erling Haaland
In a clip shared to social media last weekend, Inter fans could be seen handing a fishing net to Acerbi through his car window, with one fan saying:
I have a gift for you for the final, if it helps - for Haaland.
A lucky charm - CATCH HIM!
Intanto un tifoso dell’Inter ha regalato ad Acerbi una rete da pesca da utilizzare in finale di Champions per acchiappare Erling Haaland.
TUTTO BELLISSIMO#Acerbi #Inter #Haaland pic.twitter.com/mZDUXkPIHi
— CALCIATORI BRUTTI (@CB_Ignoranza) May 20, 2023
Acerbi accepted the gift graciously, joking that he would indeed use it as a lucky charm.
They will need all the luck that they can get. Though Inter have been defensively excellent in the Champions League this season, Haaland has laid waste to almost every defence he has faced this season, racking up goals against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and RB Leipzig as Manchester City move ominously towards the elusive treble.
It will be a fascinating tactical matchup in Istanbul on June 10. Even though we've seen some unusual approaches to handling Haaland this season, we don't expect Inter's centre back to deploy the fishing net he received as a gift this week.