Manchester City vs. Chelsea: 2021 Champions League final bold predictions, live stream, how to watch online
Chelsea vs Man City live stream: How to watch Champions League fixture online and on TV
The biggest prize in club football will be decided on Saturday. And then, after the Championship play off final ends with one of Brentford or Swansea City earning their spot on the Premier League gravy train, there will be the small matter of crowning Europe's best team. Chelsea and Manchester City have been perhaps the two best teams in Europe since the start of 2021, particularly since the former changed manager, and their meetings so far this season have been nothing if not tactically absorbing contests.
It is only natural that the build-up to Saturday's final should be dominated by talk of the last two meetings between these sides. Twice in the last six weeks Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola have matched wits and on both occasions, tactically and in the final scoreline, it has been the Chelsea manager who has got the better of Manchester City.
Doubtless that will give a fillip to the Chelsea dressing room in the Estadio do Dragao ahead of kick-off but neither side seems to be getting too carried away with what happened in the previous meetings. Asked by CBS Sports what he had learned from his previous meetings with Saturday's opponents, Guardiola's answer was brief "How good they are. Congratulations on the two victories. We will see you on Saturday." He betrayed no fear, quite the opposite. Guardiola is not alone in feeling that way. There has been an ease around the City camp in the build-up that suggests those other two games count for very little in their mind.
Raheem Sterling summed it up as well as anyone. "The more you win things, the happier the team morale is and I think the boys have been brilliant this year," he said. "We have another opportunity in the final against Chelsea to create something special again. As I said, once you win trophies, you just want to win more so hopefully that carries on into the weekend."
That ease may just come from one simple truth. Guardiola and his players know that Chelsea have beaten a City team but perhaps not this City team, the one that will take to the pitch on Saturday at full strength and in its best system. In the other two recent games between these two you could sense that the English champions were just holding something back, not giving away their full plan. That was particularly evident in the Premier League fixture that came after both sides' wins in their Champions League semifinals.
On that day Guardiola effectively matched systems with Chelsea, using a back three of Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones. In possession the look and feel of it was not that dissimilar to how City attack from their more standard shapes: a three man defense, the duo of Rodri and Joao Cancelo further ahead and five players free to do what they do best in the final third. Yet in personnel terms it is hard to imagine that quintet will include Benjamin Mendy, Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres from the off, even if their manager does have a habit of springing surprises in the biggest games.
Even in an FA Cup semifinal, with the chance to win an unprecedented English quadruple on the line, Guardiola did without the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Ederson whilst playing a two-man midfield shield of Rodri and Fernandinho. That rather limited City's ability to hem Chelsea in with their press, something they did with great efficacy against Paris Saint-Germain in the second half of the semifinal first leg. That was this team operating at peak efficiency with all its key cogs in position. Tuchel's side have not seen that yet. No wonder City are in such relaxed mood.
Breaking that press proved to be beyond PSG in the semifinal but then they did not have a midfielder as dynamic as N'Golo Kante. Often narrowly defined by what he can do without the ball this season's Champions League has been a reminder of the damage the France international can do to opposing defenses.
Against Real Madrid in particular, Kante was the release valve that allowed Chelsea to break the spells of possession built up by the Spanish giants and swiftly turn defense into attack. According to Opta's sequencing data no player moved the ball further per possession than the 30-year-old, who advanced the ball an average of 26.7 meters towards goal in the second leg. One would hardly confuse him for Kevin De Bruyne in the final third but he still ended that game with three chances created, more than any of his teammates.
This has been the year of front-footed Kante, particularly under Tuchel. His action bins above show a player with greater license to roam upfield, particularly into the right channel where he led so many of the counter-attacking charges against Real Madrid. He ranks 16th among all players in the competition for take-ons attempted with 30, only three fewer than Phil Foden. His 70 percent success rate is bettered by only one player above him in the rankings, Jens Cadjuste of Midtjylland.
At least in part that is because Jorginho has taken on the role of being a leader of Chelsea's defensive lines. "He asks me to organize the midfield, to be close every time, to have short connections with the other players so we can have a good balance from high," the Italian international told CBS Sports earlier this week.
The Italian and Kante have proven to be a strong match in the middle of Tuchel's 3-4-3. Whilst one is most comfortable sitting and distributing the other is rarely more effective than when he is able to move. "It is unbelievable, the energy [Kante] brings to the team," said Jorginho. "He gives everything he can, that's massive. He doesn't surprise me, I know him and train with him every day. I know his quality, his [best] positions."
If Chelsea are to replicate their successful gameplan from the FA Cup semifinal, rapid transitions will be key. Though in the league match the possession stakes were more equal at Wembley Tuchel's side, masters of keep ball for most of his reign, sat deep and looked to charge up the field with purpose, looking to unlock the pace of their frontline. Kante was at the heart of that and will be again if Chelsea are to be successful again in Porto.
Manchester City and Chelsea will do battle on Saturday night in the Champions League final in another all-English clash, just two years after Liverpool and Spurs duked it out in Madrid.
More than 16,000 fans will be in attendance at the showpiece, with the Premier League pair scrapping it out for the biggest prize in European football.
Though there has been some shameful scenes with fans from the opposing clubs clashing in Porto.
On the transfer front, Liverpool have confirmed the capture of RB Leipzig star Ibrahima Konate.
And we've the very latest on the managerial merry-go-round, with Mauricio Pochettino, Zinedine Zidane and Max Allegri all in the news.
Raheem Sterling leads a shock list of Manchester City stars reportedly up for sale this summer.
The England winger, 26, has won three Premier League titles in six years at the Etihad but has fallen out of favour in recent weeks.
Saturday's Champions League final is likely to start with him on the bench having played only ten minutes over the last two rounds.
According to the Mail, City are willing to listen to offers for Sterling in a bid to fund Pep Guardiola's transfer wishlist.
Jack Grealish and Harry Kane have both been strongly linked with the English champions yet the pair could cost £300million. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Arsenal are all named as being interested in Sterling.
Shocking images show brawls between Man City and Chelsea fans as they gather in Porto ahead of the Champions League final.
Hundreds of fans were already in Portugal yesterday for tonight's big game featuring the two English teams.
People were involved in clashes with police officers, it has been reported.
Two fans were reportedly injured after shameful clashes near Porto’s Sao Bento railway station and in the city’s riverside quarter.
One Chelsea fan was pictured drenched in claret as blood poured from his mouth which had been busted open.
A witness said: “It was pretty minor – some people wanted another drink and the police were determined to move people on and back to their hotels.
The Manchester City coach is up there with the very best when it comes to preparing his teams with the sort of strategies, game plans and formations that secure the biggest trophies in the sport.
However, it goes without saying that the Champions League title has evaded him to an inordinate degree over the last decade, hitherto failing to secure the trophy with Bayern Munich and City.
But that could all change this weekend as Guardiola leads the Citizens into just the third all-English Champions League final in history with Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea lining up as their opponents.
Chelsea haven't had the best run-in to the Porto climax, it must be said, with a shaky climax to the Premier League season and defeat in the FA Cup final proving that all isn't well in paradise.
And we say 'paradise' because you'd be forgiven for thinking that Tuchel had the Midas touch coming into the final few weeks of the season, seemingly winning every game with absolute ease.
Guardiola knows that fact all-too well because in the short time that Tuchel has inhabited the Stamford Bridge dugout, the German has secured no less than two victories over the City coach.
A 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium and victory in an FA Cup final means that Tuchel has got the better of Guardiola in 2021, but will that continue into the clash at the Estádio do Dragão?
Well, there's good reason to think that Guardiola will be racking his brains more than ever to get the better of Tuchel and ensure that City's infamously long wait for 'Big Ears' comes to a close.
And it appears that Guardiola is more literate in Tuchel's tactics than ever based on a fascinating 36-second clip where the City boss rapidly breaks down why Chelsea play such good football.
With Rio Ferdinand watching on in what we can only assumed is amazement - besides, the clip has since gone viral on Twitter - it's like viewing a tactical masterclass on 2.0x play-through speed.
The Gunners secured an eighth-place finish in Mikel Arteta’s first full season in charge, which is a pretty good result considering the depths they were in before the turn of the year.
Stan Kroenke will know that the Arsenal fans will not tolerate playing outside of Europe for long, though, with investment into the first-team squad an absolute necessity this summer.
While it remains unclear just how much Arteta has to spend, the Daily Mail believe that Arsenal are aiming high, with Man City’s Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez both targets.