Date: Saturday 29th May 2021
Venue: Estádio do Dragão
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Here we go then, our final game of the 2020/21 season and it’s the Champions League final – who’d have thought it? It has been an up and down season again – and we’ve had plenty of them at Chelsea – but we’ll be ending it on the biggest stage and with at least some supporters inside Porto’s Estádio do Dragão to see it.
Having failed four times previously to break their quarter-final duck, Pep Guardiola gets to lead Manchester City out for the Champions League final against us and by all accounts he intends to win, in fact, in the last week, he’s been the smuggest we’ve ever seen him. To be fair, the Premier League champions are looking by far the better side and will come into the game off the back of a 5-0 mauling of Everton, whilst our last game of the season was a dire defeat to Aston Villa, so you could understand his confidence. In fact, we’ve lost 3 of our last 4 games, so our preparation for a Champions League final is unlikely to have put the wind up him.
Manchester City beat Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-finals, whilst a win over Real Madrid saw us make the final and whilst this is new territory for City, we lost to their noisy neighbours in the 2008 final before beating Bayern Munich in their own back yard to become the Champions of Europe in 2012. Oh, and Tuchel lost in the final last season, with PSG.
I’s 51 years since City last played in a major European final and they haven’t delivered in Europe when they’ve needed to in recent times. This season though, they’ve won 11 Champions League games on their way to the final and have the experience behind them now to hold their nerve. For Chelsea, we’ve had four consecutive last-16 finishes in the competition, so making it to another final, particularly in a season when we’ve been far from our best, is not to be sniffed at. Realistically though, we’re not in the best shape and the occasion might get to one or two tonight.
Of course, we’ve beaten versions of Manchester City in both the Premier League and the FA Cup in 2020-21, in fact Pep Guardiola has lost more matches against Chelsea in all competitions than any other club, including those last two – tonight we’ll face the best version of Manchester City though, so honestly, I can’t see us stretching it any further.
Going into today’s game, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, says “I know exactly the way we want to play, with who we’re going to play and I’m not going to bother them much. It’s an incredible experience to be here. I know exactly what I’m going to tell them. The guys who are anxious and nervous, I will tell them that’s normal. I’m pretty sure we have to suffer to win the final. It’s nice to say enjoy it but sometimes it’s not possible. You have to be resilient and adjust.”
Thomas Tuchel, meanwhile, says “I have full trust that everybody wants it. It is about hunger and always on the highest level in sport it comes down to how bad do you want it? I have felt us very concentrated, focused and disciplined in the build-up this week. It’s always tough to play against City, Bayern or Barcelona when Pep is on the sidelines. He creates huge belief and success and has a huge winning mentality. Maybe in the moment they are the strongest team in Europe, in the world, and they have built a huge gap between us in the league but we closed the gap for 90 minutes in Wembley and closed the gap again in Manchester. We have had two experiences in two different competitions against City. Two different matches with two different line-ups. We have the experience of how brave and courageous we need to play in certain areas of the game.”
For Manchester City, Pep should have a fully fit squad available.
For Chelsea, Mendy and Kante should both make it back despite Kante missing our last game and Mendy going off after a collision with the post.
MANCHESTER CITY (Possible line-up): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Stones, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Gundogan, Silva; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell; Pulisic, Mount; Werner
CURRENT FORM (ALL)
MANCHESTER CITY: WWLWLW
- Tonight, is the 169th meeting between Man City and Chelsea in all competitions
- It is 51 years since Manchester City last played in a major European final
- Chelsea and Manchester City’s only previous meeting in Europe was the 1970-71 Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final – Chelsea won both legs
- City are the ninth different English club to reach the final
- If City beat Chelsea, they will become the sixth different English club to be crowned champions of Europe
- Chelsea lost in the final to Manchester United in 2008 and won against Bayern Munich in 2021
- This is the third all-English final – and second in three seasons – in the Champions League.
Sportsmole: Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea