EUROPE: Champions League
Date: Saturday, 29 May 2021
Kick-off at 21:00 UK/ 21:00 CET
Venue: Estádio do Dragão (Porto)
The Estádio do Dragão in Porto plays host to the 66th showpiece final of Europe’s premier club competition after the game was switched from Istanbul. With Manchester City aiming to become the 23rd different club to be crowned European champions in their Champions League (UCL) final bow and Chelsea looking to become the 13th multi-time champions, this third-ever all-English final could be a typically tense affair.
Although their recent four-game form looks problematic (W2, L2), City did wrap up the Premier League title nearly three weeks ago, and 11 wins from 12 UCL games this season – six that saw City score before the 20th minute – shows exceptional continental form and has them hunting Real Madrid’s 2001/02 record of 12 wins in a single campaign.
However, City have lost to Chelsea twice since mid-April, two results that have contributed to an astonishing 40-game run without a draw (W35, L5). One of those was a 1-0 FA Cup semi-final defeat, but the three games since in which City conceded first they bounced back to win – they’ve won six of the last seven UCL games that saw them concede first too.
Chelsea’s previous two UCL finals have been decided by penalties (W1, L1), and considering their overall record in UEFA shootouts (W2, L4) compared to City’s (W2), the 2012 champions will hope to avoid that fate here. However the ‘Blues’ are yet to concede over 1.5 goals in a UCL game this term so should be tough to break down, albeit that statistic is true for City’s robust European defence too.
With Chelsea leading at HT in seven of their eight UCL wins this campaign, starting well in this first European H2H for 50 years appears imperative. Especially so, as Chelsea have failed to score before HT in five straight competitive matches (W2, L3), and five of the last seven H2Hs.
Players to watch: City’s only player to have featured in a UCL final, İlkay Gündoğan, has helped them to a handicap-beating win in six of the seven UCL games he’s found the net for City. Timo Werner may have scored the opener in Chelsea’s last UCL outing, but he’s still had more competitive club goals disallowed (15) this term than he’s scored (12).
- Manchester City’s form in last 5 matches: WLWLW.
- Chelsea’s form in last 5 matches: LWLLW.
PREDICTION: Away (0:2) Handicap