The biggest night of European Football is upon us, The UEFA Champions League Final is finally here and it’s an all English affair as Guardiola’s serial winners Manchester City take on Tuchel’s resurgent Chelsea.
Guardiola has won everything there is to win in England, it’s only European Glory that has alluded him since he left “the club of his heart” Barcelona. Since then, this season is the closest he has come to winning the coveted trophy in 10 years. Thomas Tuchel has done what seemed impossible when he took over as Chelsea’s manager in January and now he could possibly follow in Roberto Di Matteo’s shoes and win the UCL after coming in mid season.
Head to head, Guardiola has 4 wins on Tuchel and has lost to him twice, but interestingly both of Tuchel’s wins came in the last 2 months, once in the league and the other in the FA Cup semi final.
The Spaniard has undoubtedly had an illustrious career losing only one final and that was to another serial winner such as himself who Chelsea are very familiar with, Jose Mourinho. Thomas Tuchel on the other hand has not had similar success in finals losing 4 of the 9 finals he has participated in.
In both the recent games where these teams met, Tuchel used a very defensive approach choking Manchester City and not allowing them to create enough chances. In the games against Arsenal, Leicester and even City’s second game and most recently against Aston villa, Chelsea conceded only because of their own defensive lapses and loss of concentration. Chelsea’s game plan has worked twice against City and now they need to make it work when it matters the most.
Mateo Kovacic in a press conference said that they will focus on having possession and keeping the ball away from City but that can backfire massively. Man City’s mid field is too good to be over powered by Chelsea’s and secondly with Jesus, Foden and Mahrez they have some really fast players who can hurt Chelsea on the counter. In KDB, Ederson and Mahrez City has some extremely good passers of the ball who can lay off some lethal and penetrative passes to compliment the aforementioned players’ speed.
The worst thing Chelsea can do in this game is play to counter City’s strengths instead of playing to their own strenghts. If Chelsea are to lose this game they will most probably do so by their own hands.
Manchester City showed on Saturday again why they are the Champions of England dismantling Everton 5-0 at Etihad, a fitting end to Aguero’s record breaking stint in the Premier League. Though they lost the previous game against Brighton and the game against Newcastle was also a close one, the game against Everton showed that the Cityzens we know are back. With confidence flying high Manchester City are the favorites to win the final. Chelsea on the other hand has lost 3 out of their last 4 games and will be struggling for confidence.
PREDICTED LINE UPS
Jorginho and Kovacic have both made several mistakes this season but Jorginho’s impeccable penalty record will probably keep him in the squad over Kovacic along with his technical ability. James might switch places with Azpilicueta but for Chelsea to play a defensive game and to choke City, both these players should start at these positions. Azpi can win duels better and has a bigger physical presence than James. And James can be more dangerous on the counter with his pace and his ability to make pin point passes. However, if like Kovacic says that Chelsea will try to boss the ball then these 2 should switch. James is faster and hence a better defensive option on counters and Azpi is a better passer of the ball. Ziyech and Mount have given some excellent performances which earns them a shout over Pulisic. Although Werner has been very unlucky in front of goal, his pace makes him a much bigger threat on the counter than Olivier Giroud.
Zinchenko started the games against PSG and Everton which indicates that he is Guardiola’s first choice over Cancelo. He has given several good performances to earn him this shout as well. Cancelo though is a great alternative, he isn’t a natural LB and Kyle Walker has proven more effective on the right side of the field. Rodri might replace Fernandinho but Dinho has a lot more experience than Rodri which might give him the edge. Sterling might replace Mahrez or Jesus (Foden becomes CAM) from the front 3 but he hasn’t had his best season which might not fill Guardiola with confidence in him. You can just see the quality oozing from this team when names like Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero are on the bench. Aguero might start the game but he can’t play the full 90 minutes and if Guardiola needs a goal in the dying stages he would prefer to have a fresh Aguero ready to wreak havoc on a tiring Chelsea defence.