Man City host Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League final in Porto on Saturday evening. Pep Guardiola is looking to end a 10-year gap since he last lifted this trophy. Thomas Tuchel and Thiago Silva were losing finalists last year with PSG and will want to avoid a similar fate this time around. Chelsea have beaten City twice since the German coach was appointed but have some key injury doubts for this match.
Man City Form
City have already won two trophies this season in the Premier League title and the Carabao Cup. A superb run of 37 wins and 26 clean sheets across 43 matches and 20 wins in 22 league matches saw them host Chelsea earlier this month with the title on offer. They were beaten 2-1 at home but bounced back to win 4-3 at Newcastle.
A surprise 3-2 away defeat at Brighton followed but City played 80 minutes with ten men. They finished off their league campaign by thrashing Everton 5-0 at the Etihad. Their last 12 matches have seen four defeats and eight wins as Chelsea earlier beat City in the FA cup semi-final.
Man City Team News
City played close to their best XI against Everton to maintain match fitness. The only two players on the bench who are certain to start this final were Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan. Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus could drop down to the bench where they will join Sergio Aguero.
Guardiola will need to choose between Fernandinho and Rodri in the midfield holding role. Both of City’s defeats to Chelsea under Tuchel came with some players rested and also with a genuine striker being used. A false nine is the likely setup for this match unless Guardiola decides to overthink his selection as he has done in many Champions League knockout ties in recent seasons.
Man City Motivation
City and Guardiola will be hugely motivated to win. It would be a huge achievement for the club to win its first ever Champions League whilst the coach wants to prove he can win it without Messi.
City will look to dominate possession as a way of attacking and as a defensive strategy too. Expect some unique plans to exploit any Chelsea weaknesses such as very high and wide wingers to force back Tuchel’s wingbacks.
Chelsea come into this final in their worst form of Tuchel’s reign. Having bounced back from defeats to West Brom and Porto with a run of five clean sheets in seven matches including victories over Real Madrid and Man City, The Blues have lost three of their last four.
A poor 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal was followed up with a 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup final to Leicester. They were good in beating Leicester 2-1 at home in the league three days later. In their last match, Chelsea had a top four finish in their own hands but lost 2-1 at Aston Villa after a very poor display.
Chelsea Team News
Tuchel has two major injury question marks. Edouard Mendy has a rib injury and is hoping to be fit enough to play in goal or Kepa Arrizabalaga will step in for what would be a major downgrade. N’Golo Kante went of injured against Leicester just 11 days before the cup final but Chelsea hope he will be able to start.
The coach has to decide between Andreas Christensen and Reece James in defence, whilst he may be tempted to start Mateo Kovacic as an extra midfielder and could therefore leave both Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic on the bench instead of choosing one of them to start alongside Timo Werner.
Chelsea will set up defensively in a 5-3-2 defensive shape. Tuchel will have no qualms about going to extra time knowing that he can use six substitutes. Werner will be key to stretch City with his pace on the counter and set plays will be a major weapon too.
Tuchel and Thiago Silva will be desperate to win the Champions League having lost last season’s final to Bayern Munich.
City have kept 1 clean sheet in their last 4 matches
Man City have lost 4 of their last 12 matches
City have won 14 of their last 18 matches
Man City have won 11 of their last 12 CL matches
Chelsea have won their last 2 meetings with Man City
Chelsea have lost 3 of their last 4 matches
The Blues have failed to score in 2 of their last 4 matches
Chelsea are 5 matches without a clean sheet
This has the makings of an intriguing match. City will finally face Chelsea with their best XI and a false nine system. With the injury doubts and recent defensive and scoring problems for Tuchel’s team, Pep Guardiola is favourite to lift his first Champions League trophy in a decade. The best bet is a narrow City win but it’s possible that regulation time ends level and City win it in extra time.