Champions League final: Manchester City vs Chelsea
UEFA ranking: 3European Cup best: final (2021)Last season: quarter-finals (L vs Lyon)
This seasonRecord: W11 D1 L0 F25 A4Top scorer: Riyad Mahrez, Ferran Torres (4)Semi-finals: 4-1 vs ParisQuarter-finals: 4-2 vs DortmundRound of 16: 4-0 vs MönchengladbachGroup C: winners
Why they can win itEngland’s champions-elect have the bit between their teeth in Europe this season. Their attacking brilliance is long established, but they’ve added greater defensive solidity, with only four goals conceded in their 12 games played so far. If overcoming their quarter-final hoodoo was a boost to their self-belief, the manner of their semi-final triumph against Paris has surely banished any doubts about City’s ability to go all the way.
Campaign so farThe most telling point about City’s group-stage campaign was that it ended with the competition’s best defensive record, with just one goal shipped following Rúben Dias’ arrival to join a revitalised John Stones in central defence. After winning Group C, they posted home and away wins against both Gladbach and Dortmund, before sealing their place in the final with two magnificent victories over 2020 finalists Paris.
Talking tacticsJosep Guardiola has used a false-nine system to great effect this season, with Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and even Ilkay Gündoğan all taking turns as the spearhead of City’s attack. Having suffocated opponents thus far with their relentless pressing and clockwork passing, the Citizens are unlikely to change their approach in Istanbul. As Guardiola said: “We are used to playing a certain way. We cannot do it differently.”
Key playerCity have an embarrassment of riches but De Bruyne remains their creator-in-chief. His elegance, vision and immaculate passing range – not to mention his driving runs and spectacular finishing – make him one of the most enjoyable players to watch in world football.
Who's in charge?In 11 seasons as a first-team boss, Guardiola has lifted eight league titles, but the last of his two managerial UEFA Champions League winners' medals came in 2011. Now he has his sights set on becoming just the sixth coach to win the European Cup with two different clubs.Matthew Howarth, Man. City reporterCHELSEA (ENG)
UEFA ranking: 12European Cup best: winners (2012)Last season: round of 16 (L vs Bayern)
This seasonRecord: W8 D3 L1 F22 A4Top scorer: Olivier Giroud (6)Semi-finals: 3-1 vs Real MadridQuarter-finals: 2-1 vs PortoRound of 16: 3-0 vs AtléticoGroup E: winners
Why they can win itStill beaten only twice since Thomas Tuchel took charge, Chelsea really are starting to gel under their German coach. If the front players can continue their progress of the past few months, there is nothing – and no one – for Chelsea to fear. They changed manager mid-season when they won this trophy in 2012 so who's to say lightning won't strike twice? Their FA Cup semi-final scalp of City gives them further reason to believe.
Campaign so farAn almost flawless group stage, founded on a solid defence and the record-breaking Edouard Mendy in goal, set Chelsea on their way. They were seldom threatened by the much-vaunted Atlético in the round of 16, then saw off battling Porto before overcoming 13-time champions Real Madrid in the last four.
Talking tacticsChelsea will approach the final as they have done every other game under Tuchel: by being hard to break down at the back and waiting for chances to come at the other end. City will be favourites, but Tuchel has already beaten them in a one-off match this season – the FA Cup semi – and he will treat this the same way. The manner of their victory against Madrid shows their mettle, that’s for sure.
Key playerN’Golo Kanté may be 30 now, but his influence is showing no sign of diminishing. He wins trophies, pure and simple, and his engine is just incredible. The midfielder covers every blade of grass, disrupts the opposition – just ask Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos – and seldom wastes the ball. It’s no wonder his trophy cabinet is bulging.
Who's in charge?The first man to lead two different clubs to successive UEFA Champions League finals, Tuchel has been a revelation since his January appointment. He won back-to-back titles in France with Paris and reached the final last season, having had success in Germany with Dortmund prior to that.Jon Phipps, Chelsea reporter