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UCL Finalist: Manchester City- Destined for Greatness?

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The most anticipated game of the season, the UEFA Champions League Final, is just over two weeks away. Finalist Manchester City is gunning for its first-ever Champions League trophy.

Champions banner is seen outside Etihad Stadium - Manchester City - Premier League
After winning the EFL Cup and wrapping up the Premier League, could Man City get their hands on the most coveted silverware in Europe?
Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

History in the Competition

Although Man City has never tasted victory in a Champions League final, the Citizens are not without European trophies. City won the 1969-1970 edition of the European Cup Winner’s Cup, beating Górnik Zabrze 2-1 in the final. Talisman Francis Lee assisted the first and scored the second from the spot.

The Citizens have consistently qualified for the Champions League over the past decade, the 2020-21 season being their 10th successive season in Europe’s most elite club competition. Before this season, their deepest run in this competition was in the 2015-16 campaign when they were knocked out by Real Madrid in the semi-finals, courtesy of a cagey 0-1 loss over 2 legs. Going into the finals, Manchester City will be determined to overturn their misfortunes in the competition.

Manchester City Win FA Cup-1969
Citizens lifted the FA Cup in 1969, qualifying them for the European Cup Winner’s Cup, which they won the following season.
Photo by Cattani/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Domestic Campaign-2020/2021

Man City’s Key Domestic Results

Date Competition Score
Date Competition Score
27/09/2020 Premier League- MD3 MCI 2-5 LEI
19/12/2020 Premier League- MD14 SOU 0-1 MCI
27/02/2021 Premier League- MD26 MCI 2-1 WHU
17/04/2021 FA Cup-Semi Finals CHE 1-0 MCI
25/04/2021 EFL Cup- FInal MCI1-0 TOT
Man City’s Season Defining Domestic Results

Check out all of Manchester City’s results this season.

Manchester City has had an outstanding domestic season so far. After getting off to a slow start in the league, Guardiola’s men caught fire in December and cut through their league opponents like a hot knife through butter.

Joseph Duffy, a famous mixed martial artist once said, “Losing isn’t always the end; sometimes it becomes the beginning.” Manchester City can certainly vouch for this quote; the turning point in the season came after a 2-5 mauling by Leicester in their 3rd game. Two days after that defeat, City signed Ruben Dias, which slowly but surely turned their season around. Dias didn’t exactly hit the ground running, failing to keeping just two clean sheets in his first six Premier League starts, but he grew into his right-side center-back role and solidified Man City’s back line.

After disappointing draws against Man United and West Brom, City went on a rampaging run starting GW-14, winning 13 consecutive EPL games, notably defeating Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal. This memorable run eventually came to an end in a humbling 0-2 defeat to Man United in GW-27. However, that defeat wouldn’t derail their season; they sealed their 7th league title, courtesy of Man United’s 1-2 defeat to Leicester at Old Trafford.

Having taken the helm at City for the start of the 2016-17 season, this is Pep Guardiola’s 3rd league title, equaling José Mourinho’s and Arsène Wenger’s career tallies in just five years.

Manchester City Fans Celebrate Winning the Premier League Title
Manchester City Fans Celebrate Winning the 2020/2021 Premier League Title
Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Manchester City had a Successful EFL Cup Campaign, beating Bournemouth, Burnley, Arsenal, Man United, and Tottenham to lift the EFL Cup for a record 8th time, going level with Liverpool for the number of EFL Cups won. However, it wasn’t a similar story in English Football’s most prestigious Cup competition — the FA Cup. Manchester City’s FA Cup run came to a crashing end as they lost 1-0 in the semifinals to their now Champions League Final opponents Chelsea. This defeat was a bitter pill to swallow as it ended City’s quadruple hopes. This adds to the story-line of the much-awaited Champions League Final as City will have extra motivation to get it right against a solid Chelsea side that seems to have their number this season.

Hakim Ziyech Celebrates after scoring in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Man City in the FA Cup Semi-Finals
Hakim Ziyech Celebrates after scoring in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Man City in the FA Cup Semi-Finals
Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

Road to the UCL Final

Man City’s UCL 20/21 Results

Date Matchday Score
Date Matchday Score
22/10/2020 GRP 1 MCI 3-1 FCP
28/10/2020 GRP 2 OM 0-3 MCI
4/11/2020 GRP 3 MCI 3-0 OLY
25/11/2020 GRP 4 OLY 0-1MCI
2/12/2020 GRP 5 FCP 0-0 MCI
10/12/2020 GRP 6 MCI 3-0 OM
25/02/2021 R-16 leg 1 BMO 0-2 MCI
17/03/2021 R-16 leg 2 MCI 2-0 BMO
7/4/2021 QF leg 1 MCI 2-1 DOR
15/04/2021 QF leg 2 DOR 1-2 MCI
29/04/2021 SF leg 1 PSG 1-2 MCI
5/5/2021 SF leg 2 MCI 2-0 PSG

See detailed Manchester City Champions League results.

Manchester City has had a relatively smooth-sailing Champions League season so far with one or two nervy moments. The Sky Blues were drawn into Group-C alongside FC Porto, Olympique Marseille, and Olympiacos. Fortunate to be drawn into a comparatively easy group, they had a near flawless group stage, winning five of their six games and comfortably finishing on top.

In the Round of 16, they beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 4-0 over two legs. Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne, and Ilkay Gündogan all scored to put Manchester City in its 5th ever UCL quarterfinal.

The quarterfinal though was always going to be a much tighter affair, as Borussia Dortmund had its own plans, and Erling Haaland was keen to impress his potential future employers. However, it was Jude Bellingham who stole the show with his mature displays. Borussia Dortmund appeared to have Man City on the ropes in the first leg when Jude Bellingham put the ball in the empty net after an Ederson error, but it was controversially ruled out. The first leg ended 2-1 in favor of City after Foden’s late winner, with Dortmund scoring an all-important away goal to keep the tie alive. The second leg was off to an uncomfortable start for Manchester City as Jude Bellingham scored a brilliant early goal to give Dortmund pole position in the tie. That lead didn’t last long as Man City put on a majestic second-half performance, scoring twice to beat Dortmund 4-2 over 2 legs to seal the semifinal spot.

In the semifinals, the Citizens faced an in-form PSG side that had prevailed over defending champion Bayern Munich 3-3 (decided by away goals). But star man Riyad Mahrez scored three goals over the two legs, and City proved too good for PSG, winning 4-1 on aggregate to reach the Champions League Final for the very first time.


Head to Head- Man City vs Chelsea

Man City vs Chelsea- Past 5 encounters

Date Competition Result Chelsea Goal Scorers Man City Goal Scorers
Date Competition Result Chelsea Goal Scorers Man City Goal Scorers
8/5/2021 Premier League Chelsea Won, 2-1 Ziyech, Alonso Sterling
17/04/2021 FA Cup Chelsea Won, 1-0 Ziyech -
3/1/2021 Premier League Man City Won, 3-1 Hudson-Odoi Gundogan,Foden,Debruyne
26/06/2020 Premier League Chelsea Won, 2-1 Puliscic, Willian Debruyne
23/11/2019 Premier League Man City Won, 2-1 Kante Debruyne, Mahrez

Interestingly, Chelsea has a slight edge over Man City in recent times, with De Bruyne being the most prolific goal-scorer for Man City against his former club in their past five meetings. Ziyech seems to love scoring against Man City and could be a decent differential pick in terms of UCL Fantasy if he starts.


Head to Head- Pep Guardiola vs Thomas Tuchel

Pep vs Tuchel- Past 5 encounters

Date Competition Team Managed by Tuchel Team Managed by Pep Result
Date Competition Team Managed by Tuchel Team Managed by Pep Result
8/5/2021 Premier League Chelsea Man City Tuchel Won, 2-1
17/04/2021 FA Cup Chelsea Man City Tuchel Won, 1-0
21/05/2016 DFB Pokal-Final Dortmund Bayern Pep Won,0-0(4-3 on pens)
5/3/2016 Bundesliga Dortmund Bayern Draw, 0-0
4/10/2015 Bundesliga Dortmund Bayern Pep Won, 5-1

See detailed Tuchel vs Guardiola head-to-head.

In the battle of the managers, this seems to be quite an even affair; Pep and Tuchel have won twice each and drawn once. However, while at Chelsea, Tuchel has had the edge, winning both his domestic games (one EPL and one cup).


Injuries and Impact of Covid-19

Manchester City v Burnley FC - Premier League
Man city’s all-time top scorer, Sergio Agüero has had a tough 2020/21 season due to injuries.
Photo by Martin Rickett/Pool via Getty Images

In the 2020-21 season, Pep Guardiola didn’t have the best of starts. One of the many reasons for this slow start was injuries. Manchester City’s all-time leading goal-scorer, Sergio Agüero, has been struggling with knee issues and has only recently started to feature regularly. The team’s creative hub, Kevin de Bruyne, has by his lofty standards not had the best of seasons; he too has been in and out of the squad due to injuries. Like all other clubs, Man City has also been affected by Covid-19, the post-Christmas game against Everton being postponed due to an outbreak in the Man City dressing room.

Going into the finals, Manchester City has no notable injury or Covid-19 concerns as we speak. So, Man City is on track to be at full strength for the final, which will be music to the ears of City fans.


Early Predicted Lineups

Although the Champions League final is over two weeks away, fantasy managers would love to know the likely lineups so they can start planning transfers. Barring any new injuries, City’s lineup is quite straightforward. Only the left-back position is hard to predict as neither Zinchenko nor Cancelo seems as nailed-on as the others.

Similar to Man City, Chelsea’s starting-11 is quite consistent. However, Kai Havertz has forced his way in with brilliant league displays. Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic now seem to be competing to play as the 3rd attacker alongside Mason Mount and Timo Werner.

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Predicted Starters:

Man City:

Ederson, Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, John Stones, João Cancelo, Rodri, Ilkay Gündogan, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden.

Chelsea:

Édouard Mendy, César Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rüdiger, Andreas Christensen, Ben Chilwell, Jorginho, N’Golo Kanté, Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner.

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My early score prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Mancity

Although Man City are favorites to win the UCL, ever since Thomas Tuchel took over, Chelsea has looked solid defensively and has gotten the better of City on both the occasions they met. I believe it’s going to be no different the third time.


Closing thoughts

Let’s all hope the final lives up to its hype. Portugal is the new host — The original location (Turkey) had to be scrapped for the second year running when it was added to the UK’s “red list” of countries with severe Covid-19 outbreaks.

With two English teams playing, it would have made a lot of sense to move the final to England, but waiving quarantine rules for over 2000 UEFA staff, Foreign Media, and sponsors was too much to negotiate with the UK government on short notice.

So the final is set to take place at the 50,000-seat Estadio do Dragao in Porto. Since Portugal is on the UK’s “Green list”, 12,000 City and Chelsea fans will be able to attend the finals and enjoy the brilliant spectacle.

Oh and by the way, the party doesn’t have to end when the Champions League is over. Join NMA’s Euros 2020 mini-league — here’s how!

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We would love to know your lineup and score predictions. How many of your fantasy picks players are now out of the tournament? Around whom do you hope to build your final team? What tactical questions do you have? Please share in the comments section. Cheers!

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