It’s an all-English affair as Manchester City take on Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League final at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto on Saturday evening.
Manchester City have won multiple domestic trophies in the recent past. However, they are yet to win the holy grail, the Champions League. They won the Premier League and the League Cup and now head into their first-ever European Cup final, after beating PSG in the semi-final. They become the third new team in the title clash in successive seasons, after Tottenham in 2019 and PSG in 2020. Manager Pep Guardiola will be looking for his third Champions League trophy after winning it twice with Barcelona in 2009 and -2011.
Throughout the season, City’s success has been built upon their striker-less system, with a rotating cast of midfielders filling the gaps and consistently retaining possession. Phil Foden has been effective in that role, both against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals and against PSG in the semi-finals. Moreover, the form of Riyad Mahrez is likely to be a major factor in the outcome of the match as he has scored 4 goals in City’s last three matches in the competition.
Unlike their opponents, Chelsea do have the experience of a Champions League final. This is their third appearance in European football’s premier competition after previously making it to the final in 2008 and 2012. They finished 4th in the Premier League, runners-up in the FA Cup behind Leicester City, and are coming here after defeating Real Madrid over the two legs of the semi-final. Manager Thomas Tuchel will be looking for his first Champions League trophy after finishing second with PSG last season.
Tuchel will likely continue to deploy three at the back with wing-backs, but it is difficult to know who will start, particularly in the forward positions. N’Golo Kante is doubtful to play ahead of the match, but if available, he will start, as will Mason Mount, in one of the forward positions. Christian Pulisic has a strong chance of starting after his performance in the semi-final against Real Madrid. The decision will be between striker Timo Werner or going striker-less with Kai Havertz.
In head-to-head meetings, Chelsea have won 70 matches and Man City have managed 59 victories. 39 games between these two sides have ended in draws. The last five meetings saw wins see-sawing between the two teams, with Chelsea being the winner in the last two.
The previous league meeting between the two teams took place at the start of this month and ended in a 1-2 away win for the Blues. Sterling opened the scoring for City, while Ziyech and Marcus Alonso completed the comeback for Chelsea in the game.
- Chelsea and Manchester City’s only previous meeting in the European competition came in the 1970-71 Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final. Chelsea won both legs 1-0 to progress to the final, where they beat Real Madrid and won the title.
- Manchester City are the 9th different English team to reach a UEFA Champions League final, with Germany and Italy providing 6 each. However, only one of the last 10 teams competing in their first final have won, with Borussia Dortmund winning 3-1 against Juventus in 1997. The last English team to win their first final was Aston Villa in 1982 against Bayern Munich.
- Both Chelsea and Manchester City have conceded only 4 goals in this season’s Champions League. This is the first time that both teams competing in the final have conceded 4 or fewer goals on their way to reaching the final since 2005-06, when Arsenal conceded 2 goals and Barcelona 4 goals before meeting in that season’s final.
- In his entire managerial career, Pep Guardiola has lost more matches against Chelsea in all competitions than against any other club (7). He has lost his last two games against the Blues, only losing three in a row against Real Madrid (2012-14) and Liverpool (2018).
- Match: Manchester City vs. Chelsea
- Venue: Estádio do Dragão, Porto
- Date & Time: May 30, 2021, at 12.30 AM IST
- Injured: None
- Doubtful: None
- Suspended: None
- Injured: None
- Doubtful: Edouard Mendy, N’Golo Kante
- Unavailable: None
Predicted Starting XI
Manchester City (4-3-3)
Ederson (GK); Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ruben Dias, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva; Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden
Edouard Mendy (GK); Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta; Marcos Alonso, Reece James, N’Golo Kante, Ben Chilwell; Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic; Timo Werner
- Manchester City form guide: W-L-W-L-W
- Chelsea form guide: L-W-L-L-W
Both the teams and managers know that form goes out the window when it comes to the Champions League final, and it could be either of them celebrating a continental title at the end of the evening.
Manchester City have had a history of failing to deliver on the European stage in the last few seasons, which should give the Blues some encouragement. Chelsea have been good against the top sides, but the meek FA Cup Final defeat and subsequent defeat at Villa Park will be a point of concern for them.
With neither side likely to start with a recognized center-forward, it could well come down to which defense deals with attacks better. City are favorites to win, but both teams have more than enough quality to lift the trophy on their day.
Howzat Dream Team
- Goalkeeper: E Mendy
- Defenders: J Stones, R Dias, A Rudiger, B Chilwell
- Midfielders: K De Bruyne, N Kante, M Mount
- Forwards: R Mahrez, P Foden, T Werner
- Captain: K De Bruyne/R Mahrez
- Vice Captain: M Mount/B Chilwell
NOTE: The Howzat dream team above is just a suggestion. You can select your own fantasy 11 by using your knowledge and fantasy premier league tips. Also, don’t forget to make any necessary changes to your team once the actual starting 11 is announced by each team (60 minutes before the start of the match) as some players you have selected might not be part of the fantasy 11.
Select your own team and play fantasy football on your favorite fantasy football app, Howzat!