Champions League Final: Match Preview:

Chelsea Staff Damage UEFA Champions League Trophy | Bleacher Report |  Latest News, Videos and Highlights
The cast of 2012 holding the Champions League trophy (Image credit: Bleacher Report)

As the 2020/21 season reaches finally it’s crescendo, Thomas Tuchel’s Blue army face one last hurdle. And this isn’t any old hurdle. It just happens to be the biggest game in almost a decade for the SW6. If you’d have told me in August that I’d be writing the Chelsea preview for the Champions League final, I’d have thought you were insane. But here we are. It’s really happening. Chelsea. Manchester City. There can only be one winner. 

The stature of this game is extraordinary, so the boys at The Chelsea Spot have decided to try something different for this preview. Myself, and some of the lads will give our own thoughts on the game, as well as some key information that will tell you all you need to know about the final. 

Mash Greaves: 

Chelsea have suffered a troublesome run of form as of late, which already sprinkles some doubt on our chances. A poor result against Arsenal, followed by a heart breaking loss against Leicester in the FA Cup final really stumbled the Blues. Two days later, we defeated Leicester in the league, only to lose once more against Aston Villa on the final day of the season. This has really come at the worst possible time for Chelsea, as the momentum is running thin, and we need an extreme amount of focus for Saturday evening. It could be argued that guaranteeing top four last Sunday took the pressure off for this weekend, but for me, we have to ignore everything that has happened thus far this season. Saturday is a completely different game. 

In absolute fairness, Man City aren’t in the best position form wise as they could be, either. Pep Guardiola’s side have conceded eight in their last four games, but managed to demolish Everton 5-0 on the last day of the season. Saturday’s result is definitely up in the air, and it will only come down to who has the most bottle. 

Player news and updates:

Chelsea's N'Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy fit for Champions League final;  Man City's Ilkay Gundogan picks up training knock | Football News | Sky  Sports
The deadly duo in Porto (Image credit: Sky Sports)

Thomas Tuchel has revealed his 25 man squad who have travelled to Porto, and Blues fans will be ecstatic to hear that both N’Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy have travelled. The aforementioned players suffered injuries in the last two league games, but Tuchel has seen improvement in both players since then, and is hopeful the duo can start. 

Mendy will be vital in Chelsea’s chances to secure the victory, with the Senegal international being one of the signings of the season this year. And as for NG, well, you know the story. 

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy, James, Silva, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell, Mount, Pulisic, Werner

Players to watch:

England selection dilemma can help Phil Foden rise to Pep Guardiola's  challenge - Joe Bray - Manchester Evening News
England’s next Lampard v Gerrard debate in action for the Three Lions (Image credit: Manchester Evening News)

Mason Mount: Mason has been a standout this season, not just for Chelsea, but in the Premier League in general. Mase has shown signs of leadership, quality and sheer talent, you would think he’s 28. The Englishman has shown up on the big stage already this season, with pivotal goals at Porto and Real Madrid, that got us to the final. Mount will be sure to have all eyes on him.

Phil Foden: Foden is another player much like Mount, with absolutely no ceiling, and talent in abundance. The show-down between the two Englishmen will be sure to light sparks on the pitch, and with Foden being instrumental in City’s Premier League triumph, be sure to keep your eyes on the ‘Stockport Iniesta’.

Paree:

Predicted Lineup: 

Mendy, Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell, Mount, Havertz, Werner 

The player to look out for City is Dias in my opinion. If we can manage to trouble him and get him showing his weaknesses which he does have despite an incredible season, we have a real chance. The key player for Chelsea is actually….Jorginho. I genuinely think the game will be won in the midfield, and he’s going to need to turn up if he does play after some pretty poor performances (same applies for Kovacic too). 

The thoughts of Mason Mount, Reece James, Thiago Silva, and a whole bunch of others lifting the Champions League trophy is just too much for me right now. I am desperate for this trophy. It’s going to hurt big time if we lose, especially after the FA Cup Final, but I have faith in the boys and Tuchel to come up with something special, just like 2012. 

Dan Barker:

Predicted Lineup: 

Mendy, James, Silva, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell, Mount, Werner, Havertz

Chelsea have done incredibly well to reach the final of this season’s UCL, however I think they will fall just short at the final hurdle. Tuchel’s side have had stuttering form in the league over recent weeks, as well as the FA cup disappointment against Leicester and I just can’t see them out-scoring Man City. Hopefully I’m proven wrong!

Players to watch:

Mason Mount and Phil Foden take this one again. 

Rob Lawman:

Well, who’d have thought we’d end up here when Lampard was sacked in January?

Chelsea manager Lampard promised transfer budget of £150m
Everyone’s favourite centre mid, in charge of the Blues earlier this year (Image credit: CaughtOffside)

As is often the way with Chelsea, despite the chaos of a season filled with change and drama, we find ourselves in a position where we could end up with the most coveted prize in Europe. Despite the ups and downs of our domestic form, it’s very difficult to say we don’t deserve to be here. Having topped an all be it, comfortable group, remaining unbeaten and only conceding two goals, we’ve gone on to comfortably beat both Madrid side over two legs and successfully navigate an intense Porto side, flying high after knocking out Juventus.

This isn’t a run like 2012, this wasn’t a back against the wall underdog story, but rather the story of a side that met some of European’s elite head-on and passed by them with relative ease. It’s of course then rather fitting that we come up against the side that is arguably the best in Europe right now. A side that has walked the Premier League and taken some big scalps of their own on the way to Portugal, but having beaten them twice this season, there’s no reason to think we’re in for a hiding.

Tuchel’s side seems tailor-made for these top-level knockout affairs, despite inconsistent league form, the German’s 3-4-2-1 has looked impenetrable in defence and created chances aplenty, even if the conversion rate leaves a lot to be desired. This has also been the case in the most recent meetings of the two sides where Chelsea have been able to limit City’s attacks to scraps, with the exception of a Christensen howler, whilst also looking to get in behind City’s high line at every opportunity.

I don’t see a reason why Tuchel would go into this game any differently. Having beaten Pep’s side twice, it’s on the Spaniard to decide on whether to stick with a formula that has proven so successful, yet not against Chelsea, or risk overthinking with tactical tweaks.

With that said, I think at this point the back 6 pick themselves with Mendy in goal, Chilwell at LWB, Rudi at LCB, Silva in the middle with Reece at RCB and Azpi at RWB, the latter two switching depending on the state of the game. Christensen would be unlucky to miss out, however, the injury and slight dip in form have come at the worst possible time and I wouldn’t risk him in the final.

Given the 5 subs, I think it’s a no brainer that Kante starts this game despite the injury concerns. Tuchel’s comments seem to imply that he’s fit however the extra subs remove the risk that may have previously existed. Partnering with him I’d go for Jorginho. Despite my frustrations in his limitations, he’s stepped up in the big European games and Kovacic‘s recent injury and defensive lapses make him too much of a risk to start this game. As for the front 3, I think pace in behind and in transition will be pivotal to any success we have so I would go with a front 3 of Timo – Havertz – Mount. Mount has proven to be one of Europe’s best at taking the ball in between the lines on the turn converting defence instantly into attack which will be crucial in playing in the two Germans who, despite inconsistent finishing, pose our best goal threats. The intensity and mobility of Mount will also be crucial in shutting down Rodri at the heart of the City midfield. As for Werner, despite his finishing leaving a lot to be desired, it’s impossible to argue that he’s been at the heart of everything we do and poses a unique threat, especially in the channels where City’s full-backs and centre backs are at their weakest.

Michael Nazarian:

Predicted Lineup: 

Mendy, Rudiger, Silva, Azpi, Reece, Chilwell, Kante, Jorginho, Werner, Havertz, Mount

Players to watch: 

Chelsea: What can Timo Werner bring to the Blues after a rocky start?
Timo celebrating for the Blues – Let’s see more of this Saturday, please (Image credit: The Pride Of London)

City – Foden
Chelsea – Werner 

Expectations: 

A tight game played by Chelsea allowing city to be more aggressive and hold possession, while we try and hit on the break. Chelsea will look to press City’s back line at times to suffocate them in the wide areas or win the ball in the midfield when they look to progress. City won’t be afraid to play balls over the top to someone like Foden, Sterling, Mahrez, etc, but they’ll mix it up with Gundogan and/or Bernardo dropping and drifting. Jorginho and Kante will be key in this regard both to break down City’s progression and be sharp in the build up to evade City’s press. Kova may start. Werner will definitely be used to try and get in behind, Ziyech could definitely start as a result to supply these balls, but I believe Havertz and Mount would be better in transition overall and add more in possession against pressing teams. Finally, Reece could be key here as he was matched up against Ben Mendy in the last matchup and proved to be a menace 1v1 constantly beating his man and providing a threat.

Frankie:

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy, Rudiger, Silva, James, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell, Mount, Werner, Havertz.

I believe Azpilicueta will start as having your captain on the pitch is essential for a game of this magnitude and throwing Christensen straight into a Champions League final as his first game back from injury seems unlikely to me. Whether it is Azpi or Reece James at RCB, they will have an essential job to keeping the abundance of tricky wingers Pep has at his disposal quiet and prevent crosses from coming in. Havertz and Werner have been exceptional as a pair when played together. Having performed outstanding together in the 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge against Real Madrid, they are obviously trusted by Tuchel on the big stage. The German connection between the two could be crucial in this game to get an early lead and not let Man City rest at the back. Ziyech is unlucky to not make the cut for my starting eleven, however bringing such a dangerous asset off the bench could be used to our advantage later on in the game. Ziyech and Pulisic for that matter, could be perfect for a scenario where it is a tight scoreline heading into extra time or the later portion of the match. 

My Key Players: 

Chelsea receive Champions League final injury boost as Edouard Mendy and  N'Golo Kante take part in training
A standout pick for signing of the season (Image credit: The Telegraph)

Edouard Mendy for me has one of the biggest tasks ahead of him and I’m certain he knows it. His incredible story to success and superb first season in West London culminates in the biggest game in world football. Man City have an unholy amount of shots per game, in just their last game against Everton in the Premier League, they had 21 shots and 11 of those shots were on target. Mendy will have to be on top of his game on Saturday night and a good performance from him in goal could be crucial to securing a second Champions League trophy. 

Kevin De Bruyne could be used in a false nine role or in the attacking midfield role on Saturday night. Guessing a Pep Guardiola lineup is basically pointless as he shifts and changes his teams so frequently. Whoever is set on the task of marking the former Chelsea man will have one of the hardest jobs in world football for possibly 120 minutes. De Bruyne has not played a full ninety minutes in the last two meetings between City and Chelsea. Having a fully fit Kevin De Bruyne could change the game in its entirety and the midfield pairing of Chelsea will have to be ready for a tough night of stopping the Belgian international. 

Predictions For The Game: 

In my opinion, the game will be a tight and cagey affair with both teams attempting to get the tactical edge in the opening stages of the game. Whoever gets the first goal will be in a supreme position for the remainder of the match. In recent matches, we have had trouble breaking down a low block and I really can’t see this being an issue against an attacking side like Manchester City. Also, in a Champions League final with fans from both teams shouting at the top of their lungs, a boring game is out of the question. Their playing style suits us perfectly as we can exploit them on the counter attack with the pace of Werner. Therefore, I am going with 1-0 to the mighty Chelsea and hopefully the team will bring back a second Champions League to West London.

And finally, Danny New:

Predicted Lineup: 

Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kanté, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Werner; Havertz

Players to watch:

Mason Mount and Phil Foden. Thats a hat trick for the England duo. All eyes on them…

A huge game between the two nouveau-riche of the English game. I hope more than anything that Mason makes his mark on this final in a positive way and leads us to a first UCL since 2012 in Drogba-esque fashion. It’ll need to be a dogged performance like against Bayern 9 years ago, Man City have more quality in their line up so it’ll be up to Tuchel to squeeze every drop of talent from the boys in order to help us win. Watch out for Callum Hudson-Odoi from the bench, there’s a general trend when he’s on the pitch for Chelsea: the attack looks much more cohesive and dangerous!

Dortmund want Callum Hudson-Odoi as Jadon Sancho replacement, Pau Torres'  United audition – Transfer Notebook - Eurosport
Calteck has attracted the likes of Dortmund and Bayern through his standout performances for the Blues (Image credit: Eurosport)

And that’s it from us boys. We’ve done all we can, now, its time for the Blues to do all they can. We’re on our knees boys. Up the Chels.

Written by @mashgreaves and the Chelsea Spot boys. 

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