Champions League final: What experts are saying ahead of Man City vs Chelsea showdown

It has all the makings of a Champions League final for the ages.

Manchester City, fresh from reasserting their domestic dominance by winning the Premier League, take on a Chelsea team resurgent and increasingly confident under Thomas Tuchel.

Pep Guardiola knows he could easily need a tactical masterstroke in Porto to outwit Tuchel and avoid a third loss in succession to Chelsea.

Thomas Tuchel (left) and Pep Guardiola (right) will go head to head on Saturday night as Chelsea play Manchester City in the Champions League final in Porto

Thomas Tuchel (left) and Pep Guardiola (right) will go head to head on Saturday night as Chelsea play Manchester City in the Champions League final in Porto

City will start as narrow favourites in what is their first-ever Champions League final, while Chelsea are aiming to lift the famous trophy for the second time.

As the anticipation builds ahead of Saturday night’s showpiece, we canvassed the opinions of former player and pundits on who will come out on top.

Dimitar Berbatov

Manchester City want to win the Champions League so badly. They have fought for this cup for many years now and that would be the cherry on top for them. It would make Guardiola more of a legend there than he already is now.

Both managers have experience. Tuchel only has experience of losing in the Champions League final [with Paris Saint-Germain last season], while Guardiola has only won in the final [with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011].

The fairytale ending is Aguero scoring the winning goal. All people from City will be rooting for that.

Thomas Tuchel consoles Neymar after Paris Saint-Germain lost last season's final to Bayern

Thomas Tuchel consoles Neymar after Paris Saint-Germain lost last season's final to Bayern

Thomas Tuchel consoles Neymar after Paris Saint-Germain lost last season’s final to Bayern 

Pep Guardiola won the trophy twice with Barcelona but hasn't lifted it in a decade now

Pep Guardiola won the trophy twice with Barcelona but hasn't lifted it in a decade now

Pep Guardiola won the trophy twice with Barcelona but hasn’t lifted it in a decade now

Chelsea play as a big unit, they know how to attack and how to defend. They are a solid team which move on the pitch as a unit. You watch them and think you cannot go through them.

I’m going 1-1 then a penalty shoot-out. I will go for a shoot-out and Aguero to score the winning penalty. I love a fairytale, just as long as he doesn’t do a Panenka against Mendy again!

Berbatov was speaking to Betfair

Glenn Hoddle

Chelsea are a very good side when they go 1-0 up. The first goal has never been more important than it will be in the Champions League final. Chelsea have problems when they go behind. If Chelsea go ahead they can win this game.

Thomas Tuchel seems to have Pep Guardiola’s number but you don’t rely on that as a manager. To beat City three times in a season – following Tuchel’s wins over Guardiola in the FA Cup and Premier League – is not going to be easy.

Phil Foden and Mason Mount will both have a big influence on the game. The two England teammates will be kicking lumps out of each other for one night only and, for whoever wins, it will be a massive confidence boost going into the Euros. 

Phil Foden has enjoyed an exceptional season for Manchester City as they won another title

Phil Foden has enjoyed an exceptional season for Manchester City as they won another title

Phil Foden has enjoyed an exceptional season for Manchester City as they won another title

Mason Mount has helped Chelsea reach the Champions League final amid fantastic form

Mason Mount has helped Chelsea reach the Champions League final amid fantastic form

Mason Mount has helped Chelsea reach the Champions League final amid fantastic form

Even if you lose, it’s a great experience for a young player in a Champions League final. Both players will gain from playing in the final.

I’m really looking forward to watching these two lads. What an exciting time for them.

Hoddle was speaking to Betfair  

Wayne Bridge

Chelsea might have a slight advantage because they know they can go and beat City. But they’re two great teams and Pep won’t let the recent matches affect him, but it could be at the back of his mind.

I think it’s going to be a tight game. Often City can go and storm a match but the way the Chelsea have played against them means it will be a tough match. It could go either way.

Both teams have been really good defensively with some of the best defensive records in the Premier League.

Chelsea got the better of City when the two sides met at the Etihad Stadium this month

Chelsea got the better of City when the two sides met at the Etihad Stadium this month

Chelsea got the better of City when the two sides met at the Etihad Stadium this month

Chelsea also got the better of City in the FA Cup semi-final with Hakim Ziyech (right) scoring

Chelsea also got the better of City in the FA Cup semi-final with Hakim Ziyech (right) scoring

Chelsea also got the better of City in the FA Cup semi-final with Hakim Ziyech (right) scoring

Chelsea haven’t got an in form striker and City play with a false nine so the key battle in the match will be in midfield. It’s between the midfield and who ends up dominating.

Guardiola won’t overthink too much because of the way the team’s been playing. There won’t be any overthinking going on at all.

What this City squad has done is really come together and perform very well. They’re up there with the other City teams but I don’t think they’re the best.

Bridge was speaking to bettingexpert.com

Mark Lawrenson

I’m going with City to win it, and win it in 90 minutes.

Chelsea haven’t faced City’s big hitters yet, but they have already played a couple of different ways to beat Guardiola’s side in the past few weeks.

Yes, Tuchel got it absolutely right tactically each time but there won’t be a surprise element to how he lines up his team this time. He has showed Pep his Plan A and his Plan B, and I am not sure there is a Plan C.

Guardiola and Tuchel, who are good friends from their time coaching in Germany, speak at Wembley ahead of the FA Cup semi-final

Guardiola and Tuchel, who are good friends from their time coaching in Germany, speak at Wembley ahead of the FA Cup semi-final

Guardiola and Tuchel, who are good friends from their time coaching in Germany, speak at Wembley ahead of the FA Cup semi-final

City have already won the Premier League and now they just need one last effort to bring home this trophy too. The players know this is the big one, and that they can make history for their club.

Lawrenson was speaking to BBC Sport 

Joleon Lescott

I don’t think anyone will judge Pep if he never wins the Champions League again.

The fact is he has had a huge impact on Manchester City and the Premier League. I don’t think his legacy will be tarnished in any way if he doesn’t win it.

What he has done for the way the game is viewed right through our league system – not just the Premier League, but teams in lower leagues trying to emulate the style that Pep has created.

In terms of a bigger legacy, I don’t think it will be tarnished but he can definitely enhance it.

Lescott was speaking on behalf of BT Sport 

Guardiola is thrown in the air by his jubilant Barcelona players after their triumph in 2011

Guardiola is thrown in the air by his jubilant Barcelona players after their triumph in 2011

Guardiola is thrown in the air by his jubilant Barcelona players after their triumph in 2011

Joe Cole

No doubt there will be people at Man City who will be feeling a lot more pressure to win it than at Chelsea. 

Chelsea have got over that hurdle and won it, it took them a long time because it’s not easy and certain things need to go for you. 

The team that won it in 2012, that was the year it was destined at Chelsea. For City, we will find out by 11pm on Saturday night. 

I am sure there is so much emphasis on winning it at Man City, they go into it holding the pressure if you like, more than the Chelsea team. 

Cole was speaking on behalf of BT Sport 

Chelsea won the Champions League back in 2012 but City have yet to experience the glory

Chelsea won the Champions League back in 2012 but City have yet to experience the glory

Chelsea won the Champions League back in 2012 but City have yet to experience the glory

Emmanuel Petit  

I played with Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and he was always directing players on the pitch, pointing and talking all the time. He was very similar to Didier Deschamps, who also played the holding midfield position where you can have so much control over the game.

Both of them (Deschamps and Guardiola) have had so much success in their managerial careers and I’m surprised when I hear people are surprised by this! I played with both of them and they were more like managers than players, even when they were on the pitch.

I respect Guardiola a lot and have huge admiration for what he’s done and what he’s doing in the Premier League. To be honest, his team don’t play the football I prefer – I like the more direct and straightforward style of teams like Liverpool, Atalanta or Ajax.

Kevin De Bruyne (left), Phil Foden (middle) and Riyad Mahrez (right) will all be hoping to make a decisive impact on the final

Kevin De Bruyne (left), Phil Foden (middle) and Riyad Mahrez (right) will all be hoping to make a decisive impact on the final

Kevin De Bruyne (left), Phil Foden (middle) and Riyad Mahrez (right) will all be hoping to make a decisive impact on the final

But I appreciate watching Guardiola’s team, the way they control the game and keep possession, technically it’s really good to watch.

When it comes to a final, and your whole season hangs on one game, you need to be clinical in both areas in front of goal.

Defensively with Chelsea, that’s guaranteed. But up front I’m not so sure. In a final you might get only two or three chances to score, and you need to take them. Chelsea have too many players who need four or five chances to score.

Manchester City have players who need only one chance. I don’t think there are going to be many chances in this game, so City are the better choice for me. That’s why I feel as though City are going to win this final.

Petit was speaking on behalf of Paddy Power 

Kenny Dalglish

Man City are the favourites because they won the league.

But, I must say, it is a really tough one to call. Chelsea have had a poor run of form recently with a couple of losses, but they have been transformed by Thomas Tuchel.

In the Champions League they have put in some great performances. So, it could go either way and is a really tough call.

My predictions aren’t always that good – but if I had to choose then I would go with City.

Dalglish was speaking on behalf of McDonald’s Fun Football  

Timo Werner celebrates with Mason Mount and Kai Havertz after scoring against Real Madrid

Timo Werner celebrates with Mason Mount and Kai Havertz after scoring against Real Madrid

Timo Werner celebrates with Mason Mount and Kai Havertz after scoring against Real Madrid 

Owen Hargreaves

I think it feels like fate for City.

It feels like their destiny. As good as Pep is and he hasn’t won one of these for a long time, he will want to mark this occasion.

I don’t think he’ll tinker with it this time around. With the defence he has and the goalkeeper I think you can pretty much guarantee who is going to play. 

I think City win 2-1.

Phil and Riyad [Mahrez] score and I think Kai Havertz pops up with a beauty.

Hargreaves was speaking to JOE 

Michael Owen

For the second time in three years, the UEFA Champions League final will be contested by two English clubs.

Manchester City have finally shaken off their hoodoo of missing out at the quarter-final stage, and in some style.

The Citizens were worthy winners over two legs against PSG in the semis, and given their all-out assault domestically, they rightfully come into this as favourites.

Manchester City wrapped up the Premier League title early - allowing them ample opportunity to prepare for this big game

Manchester City wrapped up the Premier League title early - allowing them ample opportunity to prepare for this big game

Manchester City wrapped up the Premier League title early – allowing them ample opportunity to prepare for this big game

However, one blot in their pursuit for a treble came against Chelsea in the FA Cup. Thomas Tuchel masterminded a 1-0 win, so there’s no doubt the Londoners will quietly fancy their chances here.

With the league sewn up a couple of weeks ago, City have had ample time to prepare for this.

That can only be of benefit to Pep Guardiola, and given Chelsea’s recent dip in form, it’s hard to make a case against City lifting their first Champions League trophy.

I think Chelsea will sit in here and try to catch City on the counter, however, with Manchester City so powerful on the attack, keeping them out is the ultimate test.

With that in mind, I’m going for City to win their first and much coveted, Champions League trophy with a 2-0 victory.

Owen was speaking to BetVictor  

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