Manchester City vs Chelsea
Manchester City take on Chelsea in the Champions League final on Saturday in an all Premier League clash at the Estadio do Dragio in Porto.
The Portuguese city will be swathed in shades of blue as thousands of City and Chelsea fans seek the sunshine and a seat at the final. The stadium has a capacity of 50,000 and while the attendance is capped at 16,500, there will be an electric atmosphere as the Sky Blues come head-to-head with the Chelsea Blues.
Manchester City are seeking their first ever Champions League title after beating 2020 finalists Paris Saint-Germain 4-1 on aggregate in the semifinals.
Chelsea have won the European crown before — beating FC Bayern in 2012 — and they have impressed again this term, seeing off Real Madrid 3-1 to make this showcase final.
The stage is set for Foden
Manchester City is blessed with such an array of attacking and creative talent that it’s almost impossible to pick out one player who can take the Sky Blues to glory.
Kevin De Bruyne has long been admired as the most gifted assist maker in Europe, creating openings with a killer pass for both club and his country Belgium.
Sergio Aguero is bowing out after a spectacular decade with Manchester City and he scored a brace in City’s 5-0 destruction of Everton last week.
And then there’s Riyad Mahrez, who was outstanding in the Sky Blues’ victory over Paris Saint-Germain . He has four goals in the competition, as has winger Ferran Torres.
But the player they all rave about in Manchester is Phil Foden. He became the youngest ever recipient of a Premier League medal in 2018 and added another a year later and, still only 20 years old, he now has three on his mantelpiece.
In 2019, he became the youngest ever English scorer in a Champions League knockout game when City hammered Schalke 7-0.
Head coach Pep Guardiola says Foden could become a world beater and the young midfielder insists he has admired his boss’ management style since watching him at Barcelona.
Foden has taken the place of the mercurial David Silva and seems to improve every game, sitting comfortably among some of the best players on the planet.
There will be many players vying to dominate the Champions League 2021 highlights on Saturday night, but Foden makes it look effortless.
Kante and Mendy boost for Blues
So how can Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea beat the Premier League champions? Well, they’ve done it twice recently and they have received a double boost with the news that goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and midfield anchor N’Golo Kante should be fit to make the final.
Mendy was taken off at half time during Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat by Aston Villa last weekend when he hurt his ribs in a collision with the post, while Kante sat out the defeat with a tight hamstring. But both are back in training.
The French defencive midfielder is such a key player for Chelsea, breaking up play and bringing his team-mates into the game with his superb range of passing. The creative stars such as Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic rely on the organisational skills and poise of Kante who pulls the strings from the centre of the park.
The Blues’ chances rely on Kante’s support for the defence, protecting it from a wave of Sky Blues which could be overwhelming.
If he succeeds, then Chelsea have the weapons to hurt City. Veteran striker Olivier Giroud has six goals in the competition while Timo Werner, who is growing in confidence by the week, has four.
And Guardiola knows all about Hakim Ziyech who has been a thorn in the Sky Blues’ side, scoring in both the last two meetings which ended in a Chelsea victory.
Beating Real Madrid in the semifinal should give the Blues confidence to take the favourites on, as should their head-to-head record.
Chelsea have won 28 of the 55 meetings between these two teams since 1993, with the Sky Blues winning 20 and there have been seven draws.
The Champions League 2021 betting odds back the Sky Blues, but they need to overturn a recent trend if they are to succeed in Porto.
The Blues have beaten City twice in the last two months. The first time is when Ziyech scored the only goal of the game to end the Sky Blues’ quadruple hopes in the FA Cup.
And then in the league, Sergio Aguero missed a penalty for City as they went down 2-1 with Ziyech scoring again.
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