Manchester City, coach Pep Guardiola, entered the stadium as a favorite, against Chelsea led by Thomas Tuchel in the Champions League final, on Saturday (29), at Dragao Stadium, in Portugal, at 4 pm. However, in any case. The confrontation between the two English teams heralds strong feelings.
The final match was supposed to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, but the current pandemic and restrictions have led to a change of location and the stage will be the home of Porto, in the second largest Portuguese city.
In the stands, yes, there may be a taste of “old football”. After months of empty stadiums, 16,500 fans, including 10,000 from the UK, will be able to watch this Grand Final live and instantly.
The two finalists were part of the failed UEFA Europa League project, which generated a great deal of controversy, but they quickly split up and reverted to UEFA’s discipline.
In Portugal, under the “blue skies” or “blue skies”, football will try to overcome any hint of controversy and turn the page on that uncomfortable episode once and for all.
For Manchester City, this game is a meeting with history as they dream of becoming the 23rd club to win the most prestigious cup in European football.
For Guardiola, the reward will be after a five-year tournament, which despite ten national championships titles appears inconclusive if not crowned with the Champions League.
The Catalan coach already led Barcelona to the title in 2009 and 2011, but in the past decade he has accumulated disappointments in Europe, especially since he took over at City, and lost to teams such as Monaco (the 16th round in 2017) and Tottenham (quarter-finals) in 2019. Lyon (Quarter-finals in 2020).
Among the “new rich”
“Several important things have changed since those defeats. We are more stable, and they create fewer chances for us,” analyzes midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. This season, the hiring of Portugal’s Robin Dias in defense has strengthened the team’s resilience.
The appearance of young Phil Foden (20) made him forget that Argentine Sergio Aguero, the greatest goalscorer in Manchester City’s history, will end a long stage after the final.
Manchester City have been impressive since December and this season they have won the Premier League and the Premier League Cup.
The wealthy City owners, in the United Arab Emirates, are now taking a closer look at the tournament conquest that has haunted them since their arrival at the organization in 2008.
His Chelsea counterpart, Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, already knows what it means to win the European title: Londoners raised the trophy in 2012.
The “Blues” were bought in 2003 and became the first “rich new” team to win the Champions League. Nine years later, Chelsea could claim their second major tournament victory. While counting to the Final, their fans search for common ground between the current generation and Didier Drogba’s winning group.
Similarities with 2012
As in 2012, before facing Bayern Munich in the final, Chelsea does not present itself as the favorite. Midfielder Matteo Kovacic defends, “Maybe we are the outside. But this was decided in the match.”
Another similarity to the 2011/12 season is the mid-season change of Chelsea manager. Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in January. In the title conquest, it was Italian Roberto Di Matteo who led the Londoners to the title after replacing André Villas-Boas.
Despite some symptoms of fatigue at this final stage of the season, with three defeats in the last four matches – including the FA Cup final against Leicester, Chelsea are firmly confident of beating Manchester City twice in the past weeks: on April 17th. In the FA Cup and then on May 8 in the Premier League.
Guardiola warned that “this is another competition.”
“City is the standard,” says Tuchel. “Maybe they are the best team in the world at the moment.”
This Saturday, in Portugal, he will be only one champion of the two.
Manchester City: Ederson. Walker, Dias, Stones and Zincchenko; Fernandinho, Gundogan, Silva and Mahrez; De Bruyne and Foden. Coach: Pep Guardiola.
Chelsea: Mindy. Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, and Rudiger; James, Kovacic, Kante and Chilwell; Mt., Werner and Havertz. Coach: Thomas Tuchl.