CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL: Preview of the Champions League Final
Manchester City will take on Chelsea in the third all-English Champions League Final in Porto for the right to be crowned European champions.
City, who have already won the Premier League and the League Cup this season, are aiming to win their first European title whilst Chelsea are looking to add to their Champions League from 2012, when they beat Bayern Munich on penalties
City will be playing in their first European final for 51 years, having been strong favourites for the Champions League for a number of seasons but having crashed out to the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco.
- City manager Pep Guardiola is looking to become only the second manager to win the Champions League three times with only Zinedine Zidane having achieved that feat.
- City are looking to become the 23rd different team to win either the European Cup or Champions League and the 6th different English side after Liverpool, Manchester United, Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and their opponents Chelsea.
- Chelsea’s top scorer in the competition is Olivier Giroud with 6 goals whilst Riyad Mahrez and Ferran Torres lead the way for City with 4 goals each
- Both Chelsea and Manchester City have only conceded 4 goals in the competition this season
- Guardiola has won 14 of his 15 major cup finals as manager whilst Thomas Tuchel has lost his last 2
City’s road to the final
Group Stage: City coasted through a favourable group with Porto, Marseille and Olympiakos remaining unbeaten with 5 wins and 1 draw.
Last 16: Another favourable tie was comfortably dealt with as City beat Borussia Mochengladbach 2-0 in each leg to set up a tasty quarter-final tie with Borussia Dortmund.
Quarter-Final: City fans must have been fearing another quarter-final failure when Marco Reus cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne’s strike to make it 1-1 at The Etihad in the first leg. However, Phil Foden grabbed a winner in the 90th minute to give Guardiola’s men a slender advantage.
There was another scare in the second leg as Jude Bellingham gave Dortmund a 1-0 half-time lead in Germany, a scoreline which would have sent City home. However, Mahrez and Foden scored as City produced a second-half fight back to go through 4-2 on aggregate.
Semi-Final: A stern test was to be had in the shape of PSG and in the first leg in Paris, City were under the cosh and conceded first. However, they showed more spirit with another second-half fight back with De Bruyne and Mahrez scoring.
They firmly dealt with PSG in the second leg, winning 2-0 and forcing the French side to lose their discipline, setting up the chance to win their first ever Champions League.
Chelsea’s road to the final
Group Stage: Similarly to City, Chelsea coasted through a group containing Seville, Krasnodar and Rennes under then-manager Frank Lampard, winning 4 and drawing 2.
Last 16: Given a tricky tie against Atletico Madrid, new manager Thomas Tuchel showed his defensive nous to secure a 1-0 lead in Spain. They then defended stoutly against an attack containing Luis Suarez at Stamford Bridge and countered efficiently, winning 2-0 and 3-0 overall on aggregate.
Quarter-Final: The reward was a more favourable tie against Porto although both games would have to be played in Seville due to coronavirus restrictions. Chelsea comfortably won the first leg 2-0 with Mason Mount starring.
The second leg was a little nervy but looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw until a stunning overhead kick by Taremi gave Porto a 1-0 win and made the tie look closer than it really was.
Semi-Final: Real Madrid had comfortably beaten 2019 winners Liverpool in the quarter-finals but Chelsea made them look very ordinary. Christian Pulisic scored a vital away goal as Chelsea held Madrid to a 1-1 draw in Spain.
In the second leg, Chelsea took a first half lead through Timo Werner and missed some glorious opportunities before finally Mount was on hand to tap in after good work from Pulisic and secure a 2-0 win that put Chelsea into the Champions League Final.
Manchester City are certainly favourites amongst the bookies having comfortably won the Premier League but Chelsea have become something of a bogie team for Guardiola since being in England.
3rd December 2016: City 1-3 Chelsea. Despite City taking a first-half lead, Chelsea came out in the second half and produced a stunning performance to win the game. The two sides were only separated by a point at the top of the table at the time and Chelsea went on to win the league comfortably.
25th June 2020: Chelsea 2-1 City. City needed a point to keep their title race with Liverpool alive but conceded a late penalty.
17th April 2021: Chelsea 1-0 City. Guardiola’s dreams of an historic quadruple were dashed as Thomas Tuchel set his team up very conservatively and won through a goal on the counter-attack.
In addition to those key clashes, City also lost in the league to Chelsea earlier this month after conceding in the 90th minute and Guardiola has admitted in the build up that Tuchel’s tactics are very difficult to play against.
He said, “Why Chelsea play so good? Because they have three central defenders close, the two holding midfielders, the ‘pockets’ close, and the distances are so close and yet in the same time they are so wide with the wing-backs ... that is why it is difficult to play against.”
Despite Chelsea’s solidity since Tuchel came in with his 3-5-2, City would still be many people’s favourites having added to their dazzling attacking football by becoming more solid themselves.
Either way, the third all-English Champions League final is likely to be a fantastic occasion.
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