Premier League Pair Set for Champions League Final Showdown?
Despite the presence of two Premier League teams in the UEFA Champions League semis, if we’re to see an all-English final in Istanbul on 21 May, Chelsea and Manchester City must clear formidable penultimate hurdles.
Standing between the Blues of Stamford Bridge and Pep Guardiola’s Etihad outfit are Real Madrid and PSG, respectively. As even casual football fans know, these are two of continental Europe’s top clubs.
The UEFA Champions League winner odds strongly suggest that the team lifting the trophy will be from England with Man City made odds-on favourites ahead of Chelsea, so will this be the season when they finally claim their holy grail? Becoming the club champions of Europe has been the long-time goal of the mega-rich owners who brought Catalan coach Guardiola the Etihad.
Fuelled by petrodollars, City’s current financial backers have certainly been in it for the long haul. The Abu Dhabi United Group completed their takeover during the summer of 2008. Over the last decade, they have finished outside of those all-important Champions League places with 10 consecutive top-four finishes in the Premier League.
Man City are nothing if not consistent. Domestically, they look nailed on to win a fifth Premier League title in nine years. Until now, the semi-finals are as far as they’ve got in Europe’s elite club competition.
If the final is uncharted territory for City, it’s nothing new for the other three teams in the last four in 2021. Chelsea had investment from a wealthy foreign owner before their Premier League rivals but had to lose a Champions League final on penalties with John Terry’s infamous slip in 2008 before tasting glory.
Four years later, the Blues were on the winning end when beating Bayern Munich. This is as far as Roman Abramovich’s club has got since, although they do have two Europa League crowns collected in the meantime.
Even PSG, relative upstarts among the European elite have reached the Champions League final before. That was in 2020 when Bayern was too good for the French capital club now coached by former Southampton and Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.
Like City, the investment at the Parc des Princes comes courtesy of Middle Eastern owners whose wealth derives from oil. PSG have had a blank cheque, paying the two highest transfer fees in football history for star forward duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to date.
When it comes to European finals, however, nobody can touch Real Madrid. Los Blancos have won just the 13 European Cups and Champions League, and been the most consistent presence at the business end of the competition in recent years.
Away from plotting the ill-fated European Super League, Real Madrid has contested and won four of the last seven Champions League finals. They’ve only failed to lift the trophy when reaching the last match on three occasions, but haven’t faltered when getting to the final since 1981.
Man City and Chelsea aren’t encumbered by the weight of history, however. It’s brave to bet against the ribbons on the European Cup being one shade of blue or another this year.