Inarguably the biggest game in their entire club’s history, Manchester City will lock horns with Chelsea in an all-English UEFA Champions League final at the Estadio do Dragao Stadium in Portugal on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City advanced to the Champions League final after eliminating Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-finals, while Real Madrid tasted defeat at the hands of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.
Manchester City have enjoyed an exceptional season, winning both the Premier League and the Carabao Cup under Pep Guardiola. The 50-year-old Spaniard’s City side won the Premier League title in a spectacular fashion as they finished 12 points ahead of second-placed Manchester United.
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The Sky Blues are on course to complete the rare treble but the Champions League is one trophy that has eluded Guardiola so far at the Etihad Stadium.
Regardless of taking their foot off the gas in the league since the start of May, which hardly mattered as far as the overall picture is concerned, the Cityzens have been the most ruthless and relentless side in Europe. City’s richly-built, wonderfully coached side have ripped apart some of Europe’s best defences left, right and centre this campaign.
However, now is the time for the showpiece event in Portugal, where Guardiola and co. will arguably face their campaign’s most difficult task.
Chelsea have improved leaps and bounds under Thomas Tuchel, and despite narrowly making it to the top four in the Premier League, they have the attacking flair to truly cause City problems.
Tuchel’s Blues dumped City out the FA Cup semi-finals, before enjoying a 2-1 comeback success at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League which proved vital in their top-four qualification. A couple of wins has given the German manager the recent edge over Guardiola heading into the biggest game of the season, thus making the Champions League final now even more challenging for the team from Manchester.
The weight of expectations will definitely be upon Guardiola’s shoulders to right the wrongs of the years’ past. The Spaniard’s team thrashed Everton 5-0 in their last game, so City players will certainly be high in confidence at the moment.
In contrast, Chelsea scrapped into the top four despite losing 2-1 to Aston Villa in their final game of the season. Before the game against Aston Villa, the west Londoners also lost the FA Cup final to Leicester City, which means Tuchel’s side do not have the wind in their sails ahead of Saturday’s gigantic clash.
Manchester City have been the best team in England by a country mile this term and have a glorious chance to become the best in Europe. Having performed very well throughout the season, it all now lies on how the City players execute the manager’s plan in what will be the biggest game of their club’s history in Porto.
Come what may, the all-English Champions League final has all the makings to be a true spectacle.
Predicted XI: Ederson (GK), Kyle Walker (RB), Ruben Dias (CB), John Stones (CB), Oleksandr Zinchenko (LB), Fernandinho (CDM), Ilkay Gundogan (LCM), Bernardo Silva (RCM) Kevin De Bruyne (CF), Riyad Mahrez (RW), Phil Foden (LW)