Manchester City vs. Chelsea: Champions League Final preview
The biggest European soccer club competition will be decided on Saturday afternoon as Manchester City squares off with Chelsea in the Champions League Final from Porto, Portugal.
Manchester City are heavy favorites to win the match, with plenty of goals expected.
Sat, May 29 2021, 7:00 PM
Manchester City look to finally win Europe’s top trophy
Pep Guardiola was hired to bring Manchester City to European glory, and he is now on the doorstep of fulfilling that goal after finally getting past the quarter-final for the first time in his five years in charge. City rolled to a Premier League title this season, topping the table by 12 points and putting together a run of form in the second half of the campaign that has rarely been matched.
Now, they have a fully-healthy squad with Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan rested and fit. After losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final to derail their hopes of becoming just the second English club to win the "treble," they will have a tiny bit more motivation to defeat the Blues.
City shut down the lethal PSG attack in the semi-finals as they won 4-1 on aggregate, holding PSG without a single shot on target in the second leg. Riyad Mahrez was the man in form, scoring three of City’s four goals in the tie, and now has four goals and three assists in his last eight matches.
In their final match of the Premier League season, they showed they are firing on all cylinders as they steamrolled Everton 5-0 with departing Sergio Aguero coming off the bench to bag a pair of goals.
While Aguero could very well feature in the final given his terrific form, it will likely be De Bruyne playing as a false-9 with Mahrez, Phil Foden, Gundogan, and Bernardo Silva all flowing freely around him. With key players possibly missing or injured for Chelsea (more on that later), it will make it even tougher for the Blues to shut down City’s interchanging attack.
Chelsea hope to upset City yet again
In three matchups between the two clubs this season, Chelsea has twice found a way to defeat City—both in the past two months. First, they eliminated City in the FA Cup semi-finals with a 1-0 victory, and then defeated City 2-1 at the Etihad earlier this month as they overturned a 1-0 halftime deficit with a stoppage-time winner from Marcos Alonso.
However, after barely hanging onto a Champions League spot and losing to Leicester in the FA Cup Final, the season will feel like a failure for the Blues if they do not raise the trophy on Saturday. After a long string of clean sheets, Chelsea have conceded in each of their last five matches, and have lost three of their last four.
A major reason for their poor form has been their inability to score goals, in large part because of Timo Werner’s wasting of chances. The German forward was brought in last summer to be the main man in attack, but after a season where not a single Chelsea player scored more than seven goals, his six goals were a glaring failure. When he does find the back of the net, it seems to always come from an offside position, adding further to the frustration.
If Chelsea are to pull off yet another upset, they will need to get their lineup correct, something they did not do against Leicester in the FA Cup Final. Furthermore, they will need both N’Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy at full health. Mateo Kovacic replacing Jorginho in the midfield will be a big help, but it might not be enough.
Manchester City vs. Chelsea trends
Manchester City have won their last seven Champions League matches outright, and have scored at least two goals in each of those contests. Manchester City have not been held scoreless since their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, a span of nine matches.
Chelsea have lost just once in their last 12 Champions League matches, but they have just one win in their last four in all competitions. There have been fewer than three goals scored in each of their last seven matches in Champions League as well.
While Chelsea beat City 2-1 in the league, the City lineup was nowhere near their normal strength, as Gundogan and De Bruyne were both out. Furthermore, their FA Cup defeat also saw them without Gundogan, Mahrez, and Silva. At full strength, City is just too good for Chelsea, especially given the Blues’ inability to consistently finish chances of late.
At the end of the day on Saturday, it will be Pep ending a 10-year drought and once again lifting the most famous trophy in club football aloft, as City sends Chelsea home to figure out how things fell apart in the final month. Take Manchester City to win in regulation, with multiple goals scored.