Manchester City have done almost everything right this season.
Well, except for the disastrous start to this season, almost everything has fallen right into place for the Premier League champions.
In what promises to be a very exciting end to a rather unusual season, it is going to be an all-English affair at Porto, Estadio do Dragao, in the sport’s pinnacle event: The UEFA Champions League final.
Manchester City have managed to give themselves a realistic shot at finishing this season with a treble but must cross the final hurdle to make sure that it happens. Thomas Tuchel, Pep’s counterpart, and newly-appointed Chelsea manager has got the better of the Spaniard two out of two times and that is what makes this contest even more interesting.
Will it be a third-time charm for Pep Guardiola or will Tuchel find a way to get the better of the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss.
Though it may be argued that Pep never played his strongest XI when his side faced off against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final and the return leg in the Premier League, he is bound to play his strongest XI of this season in perhaps, the most important game of his managerial career. Mind you, it is the first UEFA Champions League final for Pep Guardiola in a decade and the second for Tuchel, in as many years.
There are many questions to be answered before the final kicks off but the all-important one will be about the XI that Pep chooses to make his dream of lifting a UEFA Champions League trophy with Manchester City, come true. Having said that, let us have a look at the possible combination that Pep is likely to go with for this high voltage clash.
We are going to go with a 4-1-2-1-2 formation for this hypothetical team.
Goalkeeper: Ederson Moraes
Ederson is one of the undisputed starters for this all-important clash. The Brazilian keeper has pulled some top-drawer performances this season. The 27-year-old has kept 19 clean sheets this season in the Premier League and 26 overall.
Pep has shown a massive amount of faith in the Brazilian who is currently flying high on confidence. Ederson’s ball control skills apart from his usual Keeping skills make him a touch more reliable than some of the other goalkeepers in the game.
Left-Back: Oleksandr Zinchenko
Last summer, it was understood that Zinchenko was offered to leave Manchester City as Pep Guardiola couldn’t guarantee him games this season. In other words, the Ukrainian had been pushed down the pecking order and had to fight hard for a place in the XI.
The 23-year-old decided to stay in Manchester and fought hard for his place and now he is likely to start in Porto. Though the left-back has got no assists or goals to his name this season, he has been instrumental for City’s progress to their maiden UEFA Champions League final, in the past few weeks.
Pep trusted Zinchenko to start in the second leg against Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-final and it is hard to understand why he wouldn’t start Zinchenko in the final.
Centerback: Ruben Dias
This one is a no-brainer really. Dias recently bagged the prestigious FWA award and has been the signing of the season. The Portuguese center-back has transformed City’s defense and is one of the main reasons why City won the Premier League, Carabao Cup, and are now in their maiden UEFA Champions League final.
Playing in only his first season at the Etihad, Dias has played like a veteran and has done superbly for City across all competitions. While the 24-year-old has had a fantastic season from an individual standpoint, what is even more impressive is that the former Benfica man’s presence has managed to bring the best out of John Stones.
Center-back: John Stones
John Stones has managed to revive his career this season and is currently enjoying the form of his life. The Englishman has formed a formidable partnership with Ruben Dias at the back and has even managed to score four times this season.
John Stones and Ruben Dias will have a huge role to play tomorrow.
Right-back: Joao Cancelo
Playing in a tactical setup, Cancelo has managed to show how good an attacking player the Portuguese International can be. The 27-year-old has been given a double-pivot role which has allowed him a lot more flexibility with regards to his role. Cancelo has featured in the midfield this season, something that has never happened before, and is easily one of the best RBs this season.
With 7 goal contributions (3 goals and 4 assists), Cancelo’s inclusion in the XI is imminent.