UEFA Champions League Final

It is that time of the year when the biggest game in club football officially closes the European season. 

Porto’s Estádio do Dragão will host the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final as Manchester City seek to end years of European mediocrity against domestic rivals Chelsea.

This is the third installment of their end-of-season squabbles in just over a month following their FA Cup semifinal and Premier League showdown exactly three weeks ago.

The 2021 showpiece represents the third all-English Final ever and eighth between teams from the same country. For the third year running a team will play in their first Final.

Betway Nigeria

To make it a trilogy of first-time losers in the Champions League Final, Chelsea must see off their recent profligacy in front of goal and hope minor injuries to midfield dynamo N’golo Kanté and goalkeeper Édouard Mendy will not be a factor in the game. Thomas Tuchel will also be trying every trick in the book to invigorate his under-firing side; not like they needed any more motivation. 

Pertinently, they have lost three of their last four games in all competitions and will desperately need a boost from recent performances.

Expertise vs Experience 

Although City are playing in their first UCL showpiece ever, Chelsea are second behind only Real Madrid and Bayern Munich(four each) to have reached the most Champions League finals(three) since 2008.

The Premier League champions have the bit between their teeth in Europe this season, they are unbeaten and have emphasized their defensive stability this season with only four goals conceded in 12 games played so far. 

Serial winners domestically, City have fought long and hard for this, and thoroughly deserve to reach the biggest game in European football. They will seal a historic treble with victory over Chelsea.

Chelsea know how to beat Man City, but can they make it a third consecutive win for the biggest prize in European football? (Getty Images)

On the other hand, Chelsea aim to become the first club to win all three main European club competitions twice following their Champions League triumph in 2012 and victories in the Europa League and Cup Winners’ Cup. 

Tactical Spectacle

The tactical battle on show in Portugal will be worth the gate fee alone; both tacticians have already delivered two intriguing spectacles and this third sequel should be an emphatic decider.

Each previous game was played by rotated sides after European exertions in midweek and with a week of preparation under their belts for the final; City and Chelsea’s strongest teams will oversee this all-important matchup.

Pep Guardiola utilized a midfield double-pivot in the Cup game then three centre-backs at home in the league fixture but his best players will be available for whatever shape he elects against his friend and rival.

Tuchel, for his part, will be sticking to what works best and hoping his players can find the killer instinct to take their chances.

Perhaps the 47-year-old would concede some controlled possession to City and hit them on the break, in a bid to fully harness his team’s lack of decisiveness in the final third.

Having suffocated opponents all year with their relentless pressing and clockwork passing, Guardiola has his sights set on becoming just the sixth coach to win the European Cup with two different clubs.

Remarkably, this is Guardiola’s first Champions League Final since demolishing Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United a decade ago and will be desperate to put four years of European disappointment at City behind him with a third UCL winner’s medal.

The Catalan tactician has also won a mind-blowing 14 of his 15 cup finals. 

Kevin De Bruyne and N'Golo Kante
Whoever wins this midfield battle looks set to come out on the winning side on Saturday night. (Photo by Ian Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Trophy-winning Pedigree

Under Tuchel, however, Chelsea have lost only five times in 29 games and come into this final without fear of the opposition having finished top of their group stage and defeated some strong teams in the knockouts. They are keen to ride on the belief and confidence from winning the two most recent games against City.

Tuchel is the first man to lead two different clubs to successive Champions League finals, and he would take succour in the last man to reach back-to-back finals. Compatriot Jürgen Klopp lost to a superior Real Madrid in 2017/18 and got the better of Spurs – in the last all-English final – to finally win it 12 months later.

Will the Bavarian – alongside Thiago Silva, no less – finally lift the big ears in the same country where they failed last year?

A trend can be made out of Chelsea losing the most vital games, including winning only four of 15 finals in recent years. But many of this current crop won the 2019 Europa League Final before falling short in the UEFA Super Cup and consecutive FA Cup Finals. Needless to say, the gut-wrenching feeling of defeat to Leicester in the Cup Final at Wembley is still fresh in the system.

Pertinently, there is less pressure on the outcome of this final other than winning after they already secured Champions League qualification for next season. 

For Chelsea’s youngsters, playing on the grandest stage for the club which they support, and inspired by the heroics of Didier Drogba and Petr Cech nine years ago in Munich might be all the motivation they need to deliver on their undoubted talent and Roman Abrahamovic’s main target.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blog Meets Brand