Man City vs Chelsea: Line-ups
Guardiola’s Wait is Over
Despite taking their foot off the gas in the Premier League since the start of the month – which hardly mattered at all in the grand scheme of things – Guardiola’s men have been almost unplayable in Europe, with Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain all falling victim to the Citizens’ superiority in the knockout rounds.
The astute acquisition of Ruben Dias and marked improvement of John Stones at the back has also led to City shipping a mere four goals in the 2020-21 Champions League – although three of those have come in their last four outings – and the Premier League champions signed off in style on the final day of the Premier League season.
Guardiola’s name is already etched into managerial folklore, but having led Barcelona to Champions League triumphs in 2009 and 2011, he could join the elite crowd of Bob Paisley, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane with a third winners’ medal, and the 50-year-old needs no added incentive to get the job done in Portugal.
Like his adversary, Thomas Tuchel is a man who knows all about European heartache, having come so close yet so far with PSG last year, and one can only begin to imagine the stakes if the German was to come up against his former employers in the showpiece event. It can be argued that Tuchel is still finding his feet in English football after just six months in the role – which makes Chelsea’s run to the Champions League final all the more impressive – but unlike City, the capital side do not have the wind in their sails ahead of Saturday’s showdown.
Guardiola and Tuchel will know better than anyone else that form goes out the window when it comes to the Champions League final, which ought to give the Stamford Bridge faithful hope that they could be celebrating a continental crown at the end of night. City have had a history of failing to deliver on the European stage when it matters most, but the pressure of such an occasion should not get to them this time around. Tuchel’s side will not go down waving the white flag, but Guardiola could end his agonising wait for European success with the Manchester giants.