Two English clubs, Manchester City and Chelsea, will face each other on Saturday in the Champions League final. While the “Citizens” of Pep Guardiola are the favorites, the “Blues” of Thomas Tuchel will not fail to deliver a fierce duel.
The final of the 2021 edition of the Champions League will oppose, Saturday, May 29 in Porto, two English clubs. Favorite of this duel, Manchester City has the opportunity to win its first Champions League, the consecration hoped for by Pep Guardiola and his Emirati leaders, but Chelsea promises to fight, like his vengeful coach Thomas Tuchel.
Manchester City has made an appointment with History. The beloved “Citizens” of the Gallagher brothers, leaders of the legendary Oasis group, intend to become the 23e club to lift the “Big Ears Cup”.
A third title for Guardiola?
Titled as a player and then a coach with FC Barcelona, the Spaniard Pep Guardiola also has the opportunity to enrich his legend as a coach. Since his debut on the Barça bench in 2008, the 50-year-old technician has made a habit of breaking records. If he wins a third C1, after the two won at Barça (2009, 2011), he will join French Zinédine Zidane (2016, 2017, 2018 with Real), Italian Carlo Ancelotti (2003, 2007 with l ‘AC Milan, 2014 with Real) and Englishman Bob Paisley (1977, 1978, 1981 with Liverpool).
For Catalan coach Pep Guardiola, it would also be the reward for a five-year cycle which, despite ten national titles, seems unfinished without the C1. The prestigious technician has experienced several disappointments in recent years, against Monaco (eighth, 2017), Tottenham (quarters, 2019) or Lyon (quarter, 2020), before returning to the final.
“Several important things have changed since these defeats. We are more stable, we concede fewer opportunities”, analyzes the middle of the “Citizens” Ilkay Gündogan.
Last summer, the recruitment in central defense of the Portuguese Ruben Dias solidified a team whose hard core, around Kevin de Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez or Ederson, has matured. The emergence of young Phil Foden, 20, also made us forget that Argentinian Sergio Agüero, City’s top scorer in history, would leave after the final.
The Mancunian collective, which left no chance for the stars of Paris SG in the previous round (2-1, 2-0), has had a good period since December, and already has the Premier League and the Coupe de la Ligue this season. . A hat-trick, with the C1, would allow them to become the second English club to succeed internationally, alongside their rival Manchester United (1999).
For their part, the wealthy Emirati owners of City are touching on their dream of lifting the 7.5 kg of metal they have coveted since their arrival in 2008.
Tuchel brought back colors to Chelsea
Their Chelsea counterpart, Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, has already won the competition in 2012. The “Blues”, bought in 2003, then became the first “new rich” to win it. Nine years later, there is still hope in West London, where supporters have fun spotting the commonalities between the generation of N’Golo Kanté and that of Didier Drogba.
As in 2012 before facing Bayern in Munich, the Londoners did not start winning for this final. “We may be the underdog. But it comes down to a match,” said Mateo Kovacic, the Croatian Chelsea midfielder. Another similarity with 2011-2012, there was a change of coach during the year, Tuchel succeeding Frank Lampard in January.
Under the leadership of the German technician, finalist with Paris SG last August against Bayern (1-0), Chelsea shines by relying on a steel defense that allowed them to eliminate Real (1-1, 2-0) in the semi-finals.
Both crazy about tactics and extreme perfectionists, Tuchel and Guardiola have already crossed paths on and off the pitch when the German was coaching Mainz and Dortmund. “I worked at Bayern, and he had organized a dinner in Munich (…). We talked about football, football, football and football,” Guardiola said recently.
Tuchel, he said he watched Pep’s Barça matches a lot, “to learn from him and his teams, how to defend and how to attack”. If he described Manchester City as “a reference” for his team, the German technician remains on two successes, in the Cup (1-0) and in the league (2-1) against Guardiola. “Will that give us a big advantage? No, absolutely not, and we are very aware that in the end, we are starting from scratch,” he said.
But “in football, it is possible to close the gaps for 90 minutes and that is what we will try to do in this final,” he concluded.