It does not get bigger than this final!
The winner of Europe’s premier club competition will be decided this weekend at the Estadio do Dragao. All eyes will be fixed on this spectacle. It has been a season filled with excitement, drama and excellent goals.
One thing is certain; the title will be heading to England at the end of 90 minutes or maybe penalties. Manchester City takes on Chelsea in what is a second all-English Champions League final in three years.
Pep Guardiola’s men will look to win their first UCL title at their very first attempt in the final. While Chelsea will be gunning for a second title, Thomas Tuchel will be keen on his first as he competes in his second consecutive final.
The stakes are high for both teams. Hence, it is safe to anticipate a feisty encounter in Portugal when these sides head out of the dugout.
Manchester City’s Road To The Final
Both teams have been exerting forces, all the way from the group stages. Indeed, they are very deserving of being Europe’s last two.
It has taken three consecutive quarterfinal exits for the Cityzens to qualify for this stage.
Manchester City emerged top of group C with 16 points. They defeated all comers, home and away with their only draw coming against Porto at the Estadio do Dragao (the venue of this season’s final).
The Premier League champions drew Borussia Monchengladbach in the round of 16. They comfortably overcame the German side 4-0 to book a place in the final eight in both legs.
Manchester City faced a stiffer test in Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. However, they proved too strong for the opposition and plenty of the plaudits must go to the 20-year-old Phil Foden who scored at home and away. The tie ended 4-2 on aggregate.
While the eventual scoreline portrayed a comfortable win for the Manchester club, it was nothing close to that. They had to dig deep in a semi-final that had everything, including a red card in each game. Riyad Mahrez was however the star of the show as his goals ensured a 4-1 aggregate win against PSG.
Chelsea’s Journey To The Final
When Chelsea’s 2020/21 Champions League story is told in details, Thomas Tuchel must feature heavily in it. The German tactician managed to turn around the fortunes of the club in the shortest possible time having joined after the group stages.
Frank Lampard helped the Blues to the top of Group E with 14 points. The group included Sevilla, Krasnodar and Rennes. Olivier Giroud had the biggest night of his European career after scoring all four goals in the 4-0 defeat of Sevilla.
Giroud would then take his exploits a notch higher with an acrobatic finish against Atletico Madrid in the round of 16. Hakim Ziyech and Emerson finished off the tie in the second leg to make for a 3-0 aggregate win.
Tuchel’s men got a scare in the visit to Porto for the quarterfinals. After a comfortable 2-0 first-leg win, the Portuguese giants almost forced the tie into extra-time as they managed a 1-0 win.
The Londoners produced a masterclass against serial winners, Real Madrid in the semi-final. Ngolo Kante contributed immensely in midfield as they secured a final ticket with a 3-1 aggregate win.
What To Expect
Chelsea had their neighbours, Tottenham to thank for helping them qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League via the domestic front. They have managed to falter just at the business end of the season. First, they lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea before winning just one of three league matches.
Tuchel is seriously hoping for the doctors to pass a green light on the availability of Kante and goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy.
The former PSG manager will be keen to end the season on a glorious note as well as win his first European title. Having beaten Manchester City twice in recent weeks, the strategy will be similar. He will look to exploit the high-line of his opponent’s defence.
Pep Guardiola’s City will be brimming with confidence ahead of this final, especially after securing a third EPL title in four years.
The Catalan manager will likely retain the starting lineup that defeated PSG in the semi-final. Mahrez, Foden and Kevin De Bruyne will prove key for this final.
A first continental title in 11 years is on the cards for the City boss and he will be desperate to add this to his impressive number of titles.
This final is too close to call. It will boil down to the most clinical team on the night.