By News Team
28th May 2021
For the second time in three seasons European football’s showcase event, the Champions League final, will feature two English sides battling it out for the most coveted prize in club football.
This season it will be Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, competing in their first European final, against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, who will be looking to lift the trophy for just the second time in their history.
With two evenly matched sides and so much at stake, we’re set for a fascinating encounter from Porto on Saturday night. We preview all the action below.
Chelsea confident despite recent run
After peaking under new boss Thomas Tuchel in March and April, Chelsea have fallen away somewhat in recent weeks after losing three of their last four matches in all competitions, including the FA Cup final. Whilst they stumbled into a top-four spot, the pressure of getting back into Europe next season is now off and the squad can focus fully on the task at hand this weekend.
What will give them confidence though is the fact they’ve beaten Manchester City in both of their last two meetings, including the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. Tuchel was able to use his solid back three as a base to press City high up the pitch and win the ball back. Although there were some risky one versus one defending at times, the Chelsea defenders won their battles on the day and played a huge part in the result.
Another key role was played by Timo Werner, who despite not scoring, caused havoc with his speed in the channel between the left-sided centre-backs and laid on the winner for Hakim Ziyech. If he is once again able to infiltrate these spaces on Saturday evening, Werner will cause the City defenders a lot of problems. The German forward is currently priced at 16/5 to score anytime in what would undoubtedly be his biggest moment so far.
Perhaps unlike Guardiola, it seems Tuchel still has some selection decisions to make in that forward line. Kai Havertz, Ziyech and Christian Pulisic have all made auditions to start the match, so it will be interesting to see which direction they go from the start on Saturday.
Man City can make history
The day Manchester City have been building towards for more than a decade finally arrives on Saturday as Pep Guardiola leads his team out in the Champions League final for the first time. This is actually the third consecutive season the final will feature a team making their first final appearance (after Spurs and PSG), with neither of the previous two emerging victorious. In fact, just one of the last 10 first-time finalists (Borussia Dortmund v Juventus in 1997) have gone on to win the tournament.
Whilst the previous defeats against Saturday’s opposition were damaging, City have bounced back well, winning each of their last three since then. They wrapped up their Premier League season as champions with a convincing 5-0 win over Everton and have as good as a fully-fit squad from which to choose from.
The departing Sergio Aguero looks unlikely to start this one, with Pep likely to deploy Phil Foden in the false-nine position he played in the League Cup final against Spurs. The Englishman has had an outstanding campaign and is now one of the first names on Guardiola’s team sheet. A goal in the final would be a dream story for City fans as well as Foden himself, and you wouldn’t bet against him to do so at 11/5 anytime.