Five reasons why Manchester City are undoubtedly the overwhelming favourites to win the Champions League
Share this article:
DURBAN - Sorry Chelsea fans, your team’s chances of beating Manchester City in tonight’s Champions League final are just about zero. And here are five reasons why ...
1. Surely, Chelsea cannot be third time lucky?
Fans of Chelsea will be taking heart from the fact that their beloved club has beaten City in their last two competitive games. The Blues most recently beat City 2-1 in a Premier League match earlier this month and prior to that, eliminated them from the FA Cup semi-finals last month.
While Chelsea can be given credit for their performances in those two games, it must be said that City did not exert themselves fully in the matches. The recent Premier League defeat came at a time when Pep Guardiola's charges had already pretty much wrapped up the league.
The side that lost the FA Cup semi-final was not entirely fullstrength either as Zach Steffan started in goal ahead of regular first-choice keeper Ederson.
Guardiola would have also done exhaustive research ahead of this game to ensure that his side comes out better.
2. Chelsea have a psychological disadvantage
Psychology plays a big part and is arguably as important as talent itself. If talent was all that mattered, the Netherlands football team and South African cricket teams would have had far more major trophies than they currently boast.
Though Chelsea finished in the top four and reached the FA Cup, it's safe to say that they underachieved as a whole. Prior to the start of the season, they were expected to challenge for the title after Frank Lampard was granted £263 million to invest in modifying the squad.
Lampard paid the price by losing his job. Chelsea also lost the FA Cup final earlier this month and their women's team were also hammered in the women's Champions League final by Barcelona in the same weekend. Talk about having a bad weekend.
All of this is likely to have dented Chelsea's psychology ahead of the game.
3. City will want to send Aguero out on a high
One of the factors that will motivate Man City is the desire to bid farewell to club legend Sergio Aguero on a high. Since joining City from Atletico Madrid in 2011, the Argentine has gone on to become a club legend, becoming City's all-time leading Premier League scorer with 184 goals to his name.
In his time at the Etihad, the 32-year-old has won five Premier League titles, one Premier League Golden Boot award and virtually everything that there is to win in English football.
The one thing that has eluded him in his time at City is the Champions League. The end of the fixture against Chelsea will officially close the chapter on Aguero's time at City.
It would be a fairytale ending if he could wave goodbye to the club by lifting the Champions League in his final game.
4. The genius of Pep: Good man-management and rested players
Yes, Guardiola has been lucky in a sense that he has not had many serious injuries this season. Still, the Spaniard's rotation of his squad while competing in the different competitions has been exceptional.
Guardiola has used a false number-nine system this season with success and this has ensured that his club's best attackers are well-rested. When Aguero and Gabriel Jesus were not available, various players such as Riyadh Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva have played in more advanced roles.
The fact that Guardiola has rotated more means that his players will have more energy for this game. As they secured the title at the start of the month, they could afford to exert themselves less towards the end.
Chelsea had to over-exert themselves as they were involved in the top four race until the end of the season.
5. City are simply the better team
History shows us that football finals do sometimes involve a bit of luck, so, of course, there is an outside chance of Chelsea pulling it off. However, this is not the norm and so City will go into the contest as strong pre-match favourites as they are, after all, the better side.
Though Chelsea did eliminate them from the FA Cup, City have dominated the Blues in almost every conceivable metric overall this season, best represented by the fact that Guardiola's charges finished with a Premier League goal difference of 51 while Chelsea's was 22.
City's strength in depth was also proven as they won their fourth successive Carabao Cup and sailed to their third Premier League title in four seasons.
One of the problems Chelsea faced this season was a struggle with consistency. They lost their last Premier League game 2-1 against Aston Villa. If their performance is similar against City, the Champions League final could be one-way traffic towards the Chelsea goalmouth.