Chelsea, Havertz defeated Manchester City
Manager Thomas Tuchel promised a more open and positive performance from Chelsea for the Champions League final on Saturday.
The blues held on to its word. You are therefore going back to London with the trophy.
Kai Havertz’s goal just before halftime made the difference when Chelsea beat Manchester City 1-0 in Porto and won the Champions League for the second time in the club’s history.
Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic made history himself when he became the first American to play in a UEFA Champions League final, replacing Timo Werner in the 66th minute. Zack Steffen, City’s substitute goalkeeper and number 1 in the US national team, did not make it off the bench.
Havertz sank in the 42nd minute after a great ball from Mason Mount to Manchester City, which won pro BetMGM -250.
Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell started the game on an impressive note towards Mount, and that was a good round-up of the game’s most important tactical chess game. Chilwell and Reece James, nominal full-backs who were also involved in the attack, helped suffocate the vast areas that this city team has been taking advantage of throughout the season N’Golo Kanté was his typically disruptive self in the middle. The Blues were able to work with three defenders and then double when City regained possession as Chilwell and James fell back.
In fact, manager Pep Guardiola, whose brilliance helped City win the Premier League quite comfortably, made a mistake by overreacting to the appearance of five defenders in Chelsea’s line-up. Guardiola chose to play offensive İlkay Gündoğan in central midfield, leaving his defensive midfielders like Rodri and Fernandinho on the bench, and accidentally played into the hands of Chelsea.
Guardiola got strikers Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus to equalize in the second half, which is not ideal as strikerless formations have driven a large part of City’s success this season. The club too lost star Kevin de Bruyne after a blindside collision with Antonio Rüdiger.
The decisive goal never came and Chelsea won the Champions League for the first time since their miracle win over Bayern Munich in 2012.
That title also came in a season when Chelsea fired their manager mid-season, and Tuchel’s work in place of Frank Lampard, who was fired in January, initially brought the Blues back to the Premier League’s top 4 and now has them back at the top of Europe.
Perhaps nowhere is it more obvious than on the defensive. Edouard Mendy has become an integral part of the network and Chelsea have scored 19 shutouts in all competitions under Tuchel, including the final on Saturday.
The organization in the background made a city attack nervous that rocked most opponents this season. Most of them, of course, except Chelsea, who have beaten City three times in four encounters since January, including the FA Cup semi-finals in April.
Guardiola falls 14-2 in the cup final and has still not won the Champions League since 2011, despite coaching Bayern Munich and now City, two of the most talented teams in Europe. The narrative of Guardiola rethinking things in knockout competitions doesn’t go away after Saturday’s surrender conspired to deny City its first ever European title.
That is at least one point of view. The other is to pay tribute to Chelsea and Tuchel for doing things absolutely right.
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