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FA Cup Final: Man City v Man Utd five key battles

Ahead of this weekend’s crunch FA Cup final between rivals Manchester United and Manchester City, we analyse the key battles that could define the Wembley showpiece.

Erling Haaland v Victor Lindelof

Having notched 52 goals and counting in a sensational first season in English football, Man City's Erling Haaland will have his sights set on adding to both his goal and trophy count in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

Picking up a Premier League winners medal in his first campaign at the Etihad and breaking the all-time goalscoring record in the process with 36 in total, the Norwegian is a vital component of a City side chasing a momentous treble ahead of the FA Cup final and Champions League final over the next fortnight.

Standing in Haaland's way in the FA Cup final is likely to be a centre-back partnership of Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof for neighbours Man United, with the former Dortmund hitman having struck a devastating hat-trick in the rivals' first meeting this season at the Etihad in which City prevailed 6-3.

As the less physically imposing of the centre-back pairing, Haaland may look to latch himself onto Sweden international Lindelof, who appears primed to deputise for the injured Lisandro Martinez at Wembley.

Lindelof is a very capable defender, but Haaland is a striker in a league of his own this season, and the Swede will have to be at the top of his game to live with the Norwegian if United are to keep City's primary danger man at bay.

Selected Erling Haaland FA Cup final odds:
To Score Anytime - 4/6
To Score First - 11/5
To Score 2 or More - 11/4
To Score 3 or More - 11/1
Player of the Match - 11/4

Selected Victor Lindeof FA Cup final odds:
To Score Anytime - 22/1
To Be Booked - 11/2
 

Kevin De Bruyne v Casemiro

Although a cliche, whichever team comes out on top in the midfield battle in a football match more often than prevails. It'll be no different on FA Cup final day as Kevin De Bruyne aims to inspire Man City to victory against a Man United side propped up by the wily Casemiro in the engine room.

With De Bruyne widely regarded as the best attacking midfielder in world football at present, and Casemiro largely lauded as one of the finest defensive midfielders around, this battle in the middle of the park could be a compelling watch at Wembley this weekend.

Both players will enter the FA Cup final in top form, too, with De Bruyne registering three goals and five assists in his last six starts in all competitions, and Casemiro also proving his attacking credentials of late with two goals in his last three games.

Selected Kevin De Bruyne FA Cup final odds:
To Score Anytime - 3/1
To Score First - 17/2
Over 0.5 Assists - 13/8
Player of the Match - 6/1

Selected Casemiro FA Cup final odds:
To Score Anytime - 12/1
To Be Booked - 1/1
Player of the Match - 12/1
 

Bruno Fernandes v Rodri

Another defining midfield clash in this weekend's FA Cup final will see Man Utd's chief playmaker Bruno Fernandes face off with Man City metronome Rodri.

Portuguese international Fernandes has registered a total of 28 goal contributions in all competitions for United this season from an advanced midfield position, with the departure of compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo in January appearing to provide the 28-year-old with renewed freedom in attacking areas.

Erik ten Hag's side will lean heavily on the creativity of Fernandes if they are to find a way through a stubborn City rearguard, which is protected expertly by Spain international Rodri in holding midfield.

Rodri has had an outstanding season for the Citizens under the auspices of Pep Guardiola, making 54 appearances in all competitions so far in this campaign, with the 26-year-old emerging as a real leader who the team rely upon to thwart opposition attacks.

The extent to which Fernandes can find space to cause City problems in the final third could prove to be a crucial factor in the FA Cup final, with the onus largely on Rodri to nullify the threat of his Portuguese counterpart and limit his influence on the match.

Selected Bruno Fernandes FA Cup final odds:
To Score Anytime - 9/2
To Score First - 12/1
Over 0.5 Assists - 11/2
Player of the Match - 14/1
To Be Booked - 9/4

Selected Rodri FA Cup final odds:
To Score Anytime - 15/2
To Be Booked - 5/1
Player of the Match - 20/1
 

Marcus Rashford v Ruben Dias

With Anthony Martial ruled out of this weekend's historic FA Cup final between Man United and Man City, Marcus Rashford appears primed to lead the line for the Red Devils at Wembley.

After an extended period of sub-par form, which prompted widespread concerns over the 25-year-old's future at Old Trafford, Rashford has enjoyed arguably the best season of his career to date under Erik ten Hag with an impressive 30 goals in all competitions.

England international Rashford has been a thorn in City's side in the past, notching on his Manchester derby debut back in 2016 and also on the scoresheet in United's most recent victory over their neighbours in a 2-1 win at Old Trafford in January.

Although Rashford is perhaps most effective running inside from the left flank, he can also be extremely dangerous through the middle where he is set to line up against Guardiola's charges at Wembley.

City centre-back Ruben Dias will likely occupy the central berth of City's innovative back three setup, and be tasked with ensuring United's main danger man Rashford is kept quiet on the day.

Portugal international Dias is an outstanding centre-back. but the pace and directness of Rashford at full throttle is a handful for anyone.

Selected Marcus Rashford FA Cup final odds:
To Score Anytime - 11/4
To Score First - 8/1
To Score 2 or More - 20/1
Over 0.5 Assists - 8/1
Player of the Match - 14/1

Selected Ruben Dias FA Cup final odds:
To Score Anytime - 12/1
To Be Booked - 5/1
Player of the Match - 33/1
 

Jack Grealish v Aaron Wan-Bissaka

After a difficult first season at the Etihad last term following his £100m transfer from Aston Villa, contributing just six goal contributions in the Premier League and struggling to become a permanent fixture in City's starting XI, Jack Grealish has kicked on in stunning fashion in his second campaign under Pep Guardiola.

The bonafide first choice pick on City's left flank, Grealish has marvelled as part of a scintillating attack led by Erling Haaland.

The 27-year-old has impressively broken Frank Lampard's 15-year record for most chances created in a Champions League season with a staggering 35, with the final against Inter still to be played.

Grealish's main asset is his dribbling, but in Saturday's FA Cup final he will come up against one of the best one v one defenders in the game in the form of United right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Although former Crystal Palace player Wan-Bissaka is not the most comfortable on the ball or dangerous going forward, he is a terrific defensive full-back who has a track record of frustrating even the most gifted of forward players.

Grealish's devastating dribbling met with Wan-Bissaka's destructive defending is an individual battle which could certainly make for fascinating viewing in this weekend's all-Manchester FA Cup final.

Selected Jack Grealish FA Cup final odds:
To Score Anytime - 3/1
To Score First - 17/2
Over 0.5 Assists - 3/1
Player of the Match - 7/1
To Be Booked - 8/1

Selected Aaron Wan-Bissaka FA Cup final odds:
To Score Anytime - 33/1
To Be Booked - 11/5
Player of the Match - 40/1
 

View all latest FA Cup final odds

All odds correct at the time of publishing and subject to change.

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