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The Portuguese city of Porto has been a hive of activity over the last couple of weeks. Uefa’s late decision to move the Champions League final to Porto from Istanbul has been a welcome headache for a part of Portugal which has been without tourists for so long. This is no normal city break for the travellers on a steady stream of flights from Manchester and London though. As the numbers of Manchester City and Chelsea fans increases in Porto so do the levels of nervous tension ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final.
Each club was given 6,000 tickets to for the final at the Dragão. Despite the difficulties and expense required to get to the match, those fans will create a cracking atmosphere for the 66th final of Europe’s elite club competition. Man City have not competed in any of the previous 65 finals while Chelsea didn’t make their debut at this stage until 2012. These are two of the newly rich, newly powerful clubs of European football with squads packed full of world-class talent and two of the very best managers in all of football.
Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel have a fascinating rivalry. Guardiola won all but one of their five meetings during their time as rivals in Germany (the other was a 0-0 draw) but it was Tuchel who came out on top in the Premier League and FA Cup after his appointment as Chelsea manager midway through the current season. The bookies don’t believe that trend will continue, with bet365 making Man City the 4/9 favourites to lift the trophy while Chelsea are as big as 7/4 with Paddy Power.
Man City 10/11 (bet365)
Draw 12/5 (888sport)
Chelsea 7/2 (Betfred)
(Please note that all odds are correct at time of article publishing.)
Man City may have lost both of their most recent meetings with Chelsea but weren’t exactly outplayed on either occasion. The FA Cup semi-final was a very tight match which was settled by the finest of margins after a smart Hakim Ziyech goal proved enough for a 1-0 win. Chelsea were then more than a little fortunate to emerge from the Etihad Stadium with a smash and grab 2-1 win in which Sergio Aguero missed a penalty to put Man City 2-0 up and Marcos Alonso scored a fortuitous 93rd minute winner.
Guardiola picked a strange team and formation for the visit of Chelsea to east Manchester with some suggesting that he was going out of his way not to give anything away ahead of the Champions League final. That seems a little strange as Man City’s starting XI in Porto won’t be much, if at all, different from the team that beat PSG 2-0 in the semi-final second leg but a full strength team playing in a familiar formation is only a positive for the Citizens.
Chelsea’s team is unlikely to include many surprises either. What is a surprise, however, is the poor form shown by the Blues in the last couple of weeks of the season. Tuchel was quick to defend his team’s performances but they lost three of their four matches following the win over Man City including the FA Cup final and had to rely on other results on the final day of the season to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Losing form is a worry at any time but especially ahead of one of the biggest matches in a club’s history. Man City have not been faultless themselves but their strongest team employing the tactics that saw them win the Premier League should be enough for Guardiola’s men to win the Champions League final inside 90 minutes at 10/11 with bet365.
Man City 1-0 @ 5/1 (Paddy Power)
Draw 1-1 @ 11/2 (888sport)
Man City 2-0 @ 7/1 (Betfred)
Draw 0-0 @ 7/1 (Coral)
Man City 2-1 @ 8/1 (Ladbrokes)
Chelsea 1-0 @ 9/1 (bet365)
With under 2.5 goals available at a general price of 8/13 it is clear that the bookies are expecting a tight match. That was certainly the case when these two met in the FA Cup semi-final while Chelsea’s defence has been impenetrable at times since Tuchel’s appointment. Add to the mix the desire that every player will have not to make the mistake that costs their team the Champions League and you have a recipe for a low scoring contest.
That will probably suit both managers. Under Guardiola, Man City are experts at retaining possession, prodding and stretching stubborn defences while Chelsea have lots of pace and power to exploit when they get the chance to burst forwards from their well organised defensive shape.
This could be more engrossing than entertaining, especially early on. City should have the quality to break Chelsea down and can then hurt their opponents in the latter stages when they come out looking for a goal so consider backing Man City to win 2-0 at 7/1 with Betfred.
Sergio Aguero 4/1 (bet365)
Gabriel Jesus 5/1 (Betfred)
Riyad Mahrez 11/2 (Coral)
Phil Foden 11/2 (Ladbrokes)
Raheem Sterling 6/1 (888sport)
Kevin De Bruyne 6/1 (bet365)
Ilkay Gundogan 7/1 (Paddy Power)
Timo Werner 17/2 (888sport)
Man City players dominate the top of the First Goalscorer market. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are the shortest priced options but it’s highly likely that Guardiola will start the match without a recognised striker, preferring the creativity and trickery of his incredible midfield to get the job done.
It’s not that long ago that people were complaining about the lack of opportunity given to Phil Foden to play a part in that midfield but there are no such concerns now. At the age of just 20, Foden has proven himself to Guardiola to be a player to trust on the big stage and will surely start for England at the Euros. He has the world at his feet and Foden can send out another message that he is going right to the top by scoring first at 11/2 with Ladbrokes.
Back Man City to Win at 10/11 with bet365
Man City 2-0 Correct Score at 7/1 with Betfred
Phil Foden to Score First at 11/2 with Ladbrokes