Portugal was the setting for this year’s Champions League Final. The Dragons stadium in Porto roared as 16,500 spectators were in attendance to witness a battle between the best the Premier League has to offer. Chelsea versus Manchester City ran to the narrative of the best attacking system versus the best defensive unit. A battle between two great footballing visionaries in Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel. But who came out on top and what were the keys to the victory?
Five Champions League Takeaways: The Final Verdict
Chelsea Control Champions League Final
A team wearing blue was always going to lift this season’s Champions League. And it was The Blues of Chelsea who left City feeling the blues. Chelsea’s well organized unit allied to tactical nous and energy thwarted their opponents time and time again. Although Pep Guardiola’s men dominated the ball, it was Chelsea who held the control and keys to the match. Thomas Tuchel’s men dictated the play and controlled the match they preached. Manchester City had just one shot on target in the whole game thanks to Chelsea’s solidity and workmanship. Therefore, Chelsea managed to grind out a much deserved win.
N’Golo Kante: The King of Europe
The 30-year-old is the rock and heartbeat of this Chelsea side. As he was for Leicester City and for his French national side. In his last six years he has won almost every major trophy. The midfield mountain is a player for the big occasions. His tireless energy, workrate and defensive contributions are priceless. The man of the match in Porto is getting the plaudits he deserves. Thanks to his all around performance, he helped to conquer Europe.
Havertz the Hero
German Kai Havertz has had a difficult first season in the Premier League. He has had to adjust to a faster league, a new country and coronavirus which left him bed riddled and ill for a week. He arrived for big money and the pressure at Chelsea is always high.
However, Havertz has demonstrated in the final stretch of the season his skill and worth. Timing is everything. His winning goal in the final (his first goal in the Champions League no less) has certainly gone a long way to prove it is a wise investment. Meanwhile the attacker’s nine goals in 45 games is just the start for the 21-year-old who has a bright future in the game and is already a Champions League victor.
Team Selection Key to Champions League Final Outcome
Manchester City were hamstrung from the get-go. Pep Guardiola’s decision to play without their trusted defensive shield of Fernandinho or Rodri (who have figured in 61 of 62 previous games either together or solo) backfired with Chelsea dominating the midfield with more energy and rhythm.
Rhythm is a key component for Manchester City and it was clear their players were confused by what their roles and responsibilities were. Kevin de Bruyne looked lost, Phil Foden was not in an attacking position enough and Raheem Sterling was disappointing once again. A final is not a place to experiment and once again Guardiola outthought himself in a key game.
On the other hand, Chelsea’s team were exactly that – a team with a clear game plan and had a team selection which was well versed and familiar. It showed on the pitch how comfortable the entire team were. The team demonstrated a clarity in which they were sure of their individual roles to help the collective. So their German manager has now three consecutive wins over Guardiola in the Premier League, FA Cup and now the Champions League. Therefore it is food for thought for Pep…
No Swansong for Sergio Aguero
It looked to be written in the Stars for Sergio Aguero to play a crucial role in his 275th and final City match. The Argentinian came off the bench in the 77th minute and gave City a fresh impetus and attacking threat. But he was unable to rally one last hurrah in his fabled blue shirt and stays on 184 goals for The Citizens.
Embed from Getty Images