Coach Pep Guardiola, Manchester City, enters the Champions League final as a favorite against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea this Saturday (29th), at the Estadio do Dragao in Portugal, at 4pm. However, anyway. The confrontation between the two English teams promises strong emotions.
The final was to be played in Istanbul, Turkey, but due to epidemics and current restrictions the venue changed and the stage would be home to the second largest Portuguese city of Porto.
In the stand, yes, there may be a taste of ‘old football’. After months of empty stadiums, 16,500 fans, including 10,000 from the UK, will be able to watch the grand final live and on the spot.
The two finalists were part of the failed project of the European Super League, which generated considerable controversy, but they were soon disconnected and returned to UEFA discipline.
In Portugal, under ‘Sky Blue’ or ‘Blue’ skies, football will try to dispel any signs of controversy and will certainly change the page of that uncomfortable episode.
For Manchester City, it is an encounter with sporting history as they dream of becoming the 23rd club to win the most prestigious trophy in European football.
For Guardiola, it will be a five-year cycle, which seems inconclusive if he is not crowned with the Champions League despite having ten titles in the national tournament.
The Catalan coach has already earned Barcelona the title in 2009 and 2011, but has accumulated disappointments in Europe over the past decade, especially since he took over as City, with Monaco (round 16 of 2017), Tottenham ( Quarter-finals) in 2019) and Lyon (quarter-finals in 2020).
Among the “new rich”
“Many important things have changed since those defeats. We are more stable, they create fewer chances against us”, analyzes midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. This season, the team was strengthened by hiring Portuguese Ruben Dias for defense.
The presence of young Phil Foden (20 years) made him forget that Argentina Sergio Aguero, the greatest scorer in Manchester City history, would end a long leg after the final.
Manchester City have been influencing since December and have won the Premier League and English League Cup this season.
The very affluent owners of Citi in the UAE now have a close look at the victory of the tournament that has troubled them since their arrival in the organization in 2008.
His Chelsea counterpart, Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, already knows what it’s like to win a European title: the Londoners picked up the cup in 2012.
The ‘Blues’, bought in 2003, then became the first ‘new rich’ club to win the Champions League. After nine years, Chelsea could secure their second win in the Grand Tournament. Counting up to the finals, his fans seek an equal base between the current generation and the winning group of Didier Drogba.
2012. Similarities with
Like 2012, Chelsea do not present themselves as favorites, before facing Bayern in Munich in the final. Midfielder Matteo Kovacic defended, saying “we may be outsiders. But it is decided in a game.”
Another similarity to the 2011/12 season is that Chelsea’s coach was changed in the middle of the season. Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in January. In the only title triumph, it was Italian Roberto Di Mateo who led the Londoners to the title in place of Andre Villa-Bose.
Despite some signs of fatigue in this final leg of the season, with three defeats in the last four matches – including the FA Cup final against Leicester, Chelsea are confident of defeating Manchester City twice in the past weeks: April 14 in the FA Cup and again in the Premier League on 8 May.
“This is another competition,” Guardiola warned.
“Cities are the benchmark. Perhaps they are the best team in the world at the moment,” Tuchel says.
Portugal will have one of the two champions on this Saturday.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Stones and Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Gundogan, Silva and Mahrez; De Bruyne and Foden. Coach: Pep Guardiola.
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Rudiger; James, Kovacic, Thorn and Chilwell; Mount, Werner and Havert. Coach: Thomas Tuchel.