2021 Champions League Final preview

For the second time in three years, two Premier League clubs will square off for a Champions League title. Manchester City will face off against Chelsea in Porto, Portugal, a replacement after COVID-19 policies prohibited the Final from being in its original location of Istanbul. Portugal also hosted last year’s UCL Final where Bayern Munich defeated Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in Lisbon.

Manchester City has the opportunity on Saturday to win their first-ever Champions League trophy in their first appearance in a Champions League Final. To get to this point, Man City, dispatched Monchengladbach 4-0 in the round of 16. In the quarterfinals, Man City survived Erling Haaland and Borussia Dortmund, winning 4-2 on aggregate. Their semifinal tie against PSG demonstrated Man City’s dominance, defeating last year’s runner-ups 4-2 with a brace from Riyad Mahrez in the second leg.

Man City has already found domestic success this season while maintaining their pursuit of their first-ever UCL title. They won their third Premier League trophy in four years with a 12-point margin. They also defeated Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 to win the Carabao Cup.

They have a formidable squad with at least six players scoring at least 13 goals across all competitions. Ilkay Gundogan leads the way 17 goals, providing Man City a legit scoring threat from the midfield. Phil Foden, Man City’s young star, has 16 goals and 10 assists on the season, providing incredible pace and positioning that terrorizes backlines everywhere.

Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres also provide legit playmaking for Man City, all notching at least 13 goals this season. Also, the club’s all-time leading scorer, Sergio Aguero, will play in his last game for the club in a reserve role. Aguero is likely headed to Barcelona this summer after his contract with Man City expires.

Kevin De Bruyne has battled injuries all season long, but will start in the UCL Final with 10 goals and 18 assists across all competitions this season.

Ruben Dias and Ederson are also key pieces that have allowed Man City to become a defensive force. Dias has consistently locked down star forwards on other clubs such as Haaland and Kylian Mbappe. Ederson has been a consistent force between the nets with a clean sheet in half of their 38 Premier League matches.

Standing in Man City’s way is a Premier League rival who has won their last two matches against Man City and has the defense and midfield to frustrate Man City, Chelsea.

Chelsea defeated Man City 2-1 in their last Premier League match and 1-0 in their meeting in the FA Cup semifinals.

This past offseason, Chelsea spent over 200 million euros in the transfer window, overhauling their squad with new pieces all across the pitch. It was difficult for Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s manager coming into the season, to mesh all the new pieces together. Because of this, Chelsea sat outside the top four and sacked Lampard.

Chelsea hired former PSG manager Thomas Tuchel to be their new manager on Jan. 26. Tuchel oversaw a defensive renaissance with Chelsea, racking up a bevy of clean sheets once he took over. Chelsea finished in fourth place, barely qualifying for next year’s UCL.

In this year’s UCL, Chelsea defeated eventual La Liga champions in Atletico Madrid 3-0 in a defensive masterclass. After taking care of FC Porto in the quarterfinals 2-1, Chelsea met Real Madrid in the semifinals. Chelsea defeated Real Madrid 3-1 on aggregate to make it to their first UCL Final since 2012, when they defeated Bayern Munich on penalty kicks to win their only Champions League trophy.

One transfer that boomed was former Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who had 16 clean sheets in the Premier League.

Anchoring the midfield is N’Golo Kante, who won man of the match in both legs of the UCL semifinal matches against Real Madrid. Kante’s positioning and high energy allows him to have a strong impact on each match he plays in.

Scoring has been inconsistent across all competitions with Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham leading all scorers with 12 goals. However, with Werner’s close misses and constant offsides have left Chelsea frustrated and inconsistent on the attack. With their defense and midfield, they still have a strong unit.

The match will be decided on how well Chelsea can defend the attack of Man City. Man City’s attack has looked deadlier than ever and only Chelsea appears to truly know how to stop it. However, Chelsea’s inconsistent attack will finally doom them as Dias, Ederson and the Man City backline will help the attack score what they need to win the club’s first ever UCL Final.

Prediction: Man City 2 Chelsea 1

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