Friday, May 28, 2021

Premier League in Europe: Champions League Final: Manchester City To Face Familiar Foe Chelsea

Manchester City, Champions of the Premier League, will face league opponent Chelsea as the two Premier League sides battle to become Champions of Europe on Saturday. Two recent wins by Chelsea over Manchester City, in the FA Cup Final and in league play, add some further home bred drama as two English teams square off in the Champions League final for a second time in three years and third time in the competition’s history.


City is making its first appearance in the final while manager Pep Guardiola is seeking a third Champions League title following two wins while managing Barcelona, his last title coming a decade ago. Chelsea is making a third appearance in the final, having won the title in 2012. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, meanwhile, is the first manager to reach the finals with a different team in two consecutive years. Tuchel’s PSG team fell to Bayern Munich in last year’s Champions League final. 

Despite the two wins over Manchester City, Chelsea has experienced some recent downturn in results. After going unbeaten in winning 10 of its first 14 matches under Tuchel, Chelsea has lost five of its last 15 matches in all competitions. Chelsea lost two of its final three league contests and finished in the top four only when Spurs beat Leicester on the final day. The Blues have been exasperating in attack where they struggle to convert their chances. The team’s leading scorer in the Premier League this season was Jorgino who scored all seven of his goals on penalty kicks. Former Bundesliga attackers Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have had striking difficulty adjusting to the English game. Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic have had flashes of creativity for an otherwise stunted Chelsea attack while Hakim Ziyech scored in both wins over Manchester City.


Chelsea received good news this week when defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy were both able to participate in training and look to be available for Saturday’s final. Mendy was responsible for 16 of 18 clean sheets posted by Chelsea in league play this season, second in the league only to the 19 clean sheets by Manchester City and goalkeeper Ederson. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has transformed his club this season to feature a staunch defense in front of Ederson. Center back Ruben Dias, acquired in September from Benfica, has been the catalyst for the improved City defense and was voted Footballer of the Year by English football writers earlier this month. In attack, the Citizens have relied on greater scoring from their midfield this season. Ilkay Gundogan led the club with 17 goals across all competitions while Phil Foden has scored 16 goals in an increased role following last season’s departure of David Silva. Kevin De Bruyne, who has been employed at times in a “false nine” position by manager Pep Guardiola this season, scored 10 goals in all competitions and was joint second in the Premier League in assists. Seven different Manchester City players have reached double figures in goals across all competitions entering Saturday’s match. 


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