Chelsea will take part in their third Champions League final in 15 years and their first since winning the competition in 2012. The Blues face Premier League Champions, Manchester City, who will be making their first appearance in the UCL final. Despite this, City are the favourites to lift Europe’s most prestigious club trophy.
Despite Chelsea’s recent wins, Manchester City are the favourites for this game with odds of around evens. Given Chelsea are two for two against Manchester City under Tuchel, if you’re a Chelsea fan you may fancy betting for your football team at odds of around 4/1.
Chelsea’s Road to the Final
The London club started this season’s Champions League journey with club legend, Frank Lampard, at the helm. The former England international did a good job of navigating a potentially tricky group with a 4-0 away victory over then Europa League holders, Sevilla, the highlight of the group stage.
Having topped the group, Chelsea were unfortunate to draw arguably the toughest 2nd placed side in Atletico Madrid. By this stage, Lampard had been replaced by former PSG boss, Thomas Tuchel, who oversaw a professional 3-0 aggregate win. Atleti would go on to win their domestic league ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Chelsea then faced rank outsiders, Porto, who had knocked out Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus. The Blues once again were comfortable throughout the tie and progressed to the next round where they would meet Real Madrid. Los Blancos put up a fight but Chelsea were once again the better side over two legs and deservedly progressed after a 3-1 aggregate win.
Manchester City’s Road to the Final
Pep Guardiola’s side made light work of a rather weak group. Man City won five of six games and conceded just a single goal as they walked into the knockout stages ahead of Porto. Borussia Monchengladbach were no match for City in the round of 16. Goals from Silva, Jesus, De Bruyne, and Gundogan gave Man City a 4-0 aggregate win over the German side.
Another German club followed in the quarter-finals, this time the much more stubborn Borussia Dortmund. Heading into the second half of the second leg, Dortmund were ahead on away goals but goals from Mahrez and Foden ended their hopes of an upset.
Manchester City met one of the pre-tournament favourites, PSG, in the semi-finals. The Parisians took the lead through Marquinhos but their tie quickly unravelled in the second half when they conceded two goals and received a red card in a disastrous 15-minute period. Another red card followed in the second-leg as City turned the screw and eased to a 4-1 aggregate win.
How Do These Sides Match-Up?
Chelsea and Manchester City have faced each other three times this season. The first encounter was a comfortable win for City at Stamford Bridge with a late consolation from Hudson-Odoi in a 3-1 loss for the Blues. In their second meeting, Chelsea won 1-0 in the FA Cup semi-final with Tuchel now in charge. Lastly, a late Alonso winner gave Chelsea a crucial victory in the league with that game-ending 2-1.
Team News and Line-ups
Mendy and Kanté are doubts heading into this game for Chelsea but both are expected to be available. That is unquestionably huge news given Mendy’s stellar debut season in goal and Kanté’s transformative impact in midfield during the semi-final.
The Blues are expected to start with a back three as has become customary under Tuchel. Veteran, Thiago Silva, will be hoping to finally get his hands on the elusive Champions League trophy as he lines up alongside Rudiger and possibly James. Azpilicueta may continue in his more advanced wingback role with Chilwell on the opposite flank and a midfield duo of Jorginho and Kanté. The front three is likely to feature Mount, Werner, and one of Pulisic, Ziyech or Havertz.
Manchester City come into the final with a full complement available to them. Ederson will naturally start in goal with a centre-back partnership of Dias and Stones very likely. Two of Walker, Cancelo, and Zinchenko will occupy the full-back spots in the back four. The midfield will likely feature Rodri in a holding role with Bernardo Silva and Gundogan on either side. A fluid front three of Foden, De Bruyne, and Mahrez is expected although Sterling, Jesus, and Aguero are notable bench options.
Image from: www.unsplash.com