Guardiola vs Tuchel
This is Chelsea’s third UEFA Champions League final; in all three of those campaigns, they’ve changed manager mid-season. Thomas Tuchel, who replaced Frank Lampard back in January, becomes the first man to lead two different clubs to a UEFA Champions League final in consecutive seasons.
The German lost last year’s showpiece when in charge of Paris and now faces Pep Guardiola’s City. Tuchel was beaten by the Spaniard the first three times they met, before two 0-0 draws and then, latterly, the two Chelsea wins he has masterminded against City. One of those draws, however, was a German Cup final ultimately won by Guardiola’s Bayern on penalties.
Peak City vs peak Chelsea
Chelsea’s two victories over City this term should also be viewed in context. Of the 11 City players who started last month’s FA Cup semi-final loss to the Londoners, at least half a dozen are unlikely to figure in Guardiola’s initial XI on Saturday. The same applies to the English champions’ 2-1 Premier League defeat on 8 May when Guardiola fielded an unusual 5-1-3-1 system.
The last occasion City played anything approaching a full-strength side against Chelsea – in a 3-1 win over Lampard’s team in January – they ran rings around the Blues. Tuchel has since revived the Stamford Bridge club’s fortunes, of course, but if the Citizens reach those levels again they will be very difficult to stop.
Both these sides have met Porto in this season’s competition, but only Manchester City have visited the Estádio do Dragão, drawing 0-0 on Matchday 5, a result which secured them top spot in their group. Chelsea, meanwhile, played both legs of their quarter-final against Porto in Seville.
There are, however, strong links between Chelsea and Porto, with former bosses José Mourinho and André Villas-Boas both moving to west London from northern Portugal, as well as a raft of players. Chelsea have won just one of their previous four games at this stadium, though, thanks to a Nicolas Anelka goal in 2009.
Departing City striker Sergio Agüero missed December’s goalless draw at Porto with a knee injury but now has the chance to fulfil a promise he made back in 2014 – that he would only leave the club once they’d won the UEFA Champions League.
An unlikely starter he may be, but even if the 32-year-old has to settle for a place among the substitutes he could still have a major role to play, as evidenced by his double off the bench against Everton on the last day of the Premier League season. If Agüero were to help City lift the trophy, it would be a fitting end to a remarkable career in east Manchester.