It’s always a special occasion when two English teams meet in a major European final, and later this month we’ll be treated to another all-English affair in the Champions League final as Manchester City take on Chelsea in Istanbul.
While City’s progression to the showpiece match is no surprise given their frequent favourite status in the UEFA Champions League odds, it’s fair to say that few were expecting Chelsea to make it so far. But come May 29th, all form and expectation goes out the window, and it all comes down to who can perform better on the night.
Both teams will be confident of getting their hands on the trophy. But they’ll need their star players to be at the top of their game. Let’s take a look at four players — two from each side — who could make all the difference in the heat of this all-English battle.
Kevin De Bruyne
The main thing Pep Guardiola will be hoping for in the next few weeks is that Kevin De Bruyne stays fit and healthy. When the Belgian is in the team, Manchester City look almost unstoppable. Especially if he is playing at his brilliant best.
De Bruyne is blessed with the kind of power and precision in his passing, crossing and shooting that makes him almost impossible to defend against when in top form.
It’ll be a challenge for Chelsea’s defenders, and the likes of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante in midfield, to keep tabs on De Bruyne and prevent him from dictating play. If they can nullify De Bruyne’s threat, they’ll have a chance of winning, but that is easier said than done.
The meteoric rise of Phil Foden continues apace. The 20-year-old has played a vital role in City’s success this season, and he’ll be hoping to give another superb performance when the Champions League final rolls around. It will be interesting to see whether Guardiola selects Foden for his starting eleven or if he will opt for someone more experienced, but the talented Englishman undoubtedly deserves a chance to shine on the biggest stage.
Blessed with flawless technique and the ability to glide past defenders, Foden will take some stopping on May 29th.
For Chelsea, they’ll be hoping that Kai Havertz can continue his mini resurgence between now and the Champions League final.
The German has had a pretty tough time of it since arriving last summer. But in the last couple of weeks he has begun to play like the player Chelsea thought they were getting. Two goals against Fulham in the Premier League, followed by a sensational performance in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid have meant that he is firmly in contention to start the showpiece match against Manchester City later this month.
Havertz is the kind of player that, if in top form, can prove UEFA Champions League winner odds in the final.
It’s been another stellar season for Mason Mount as he continues to perform at a high level for Chelsea. As a product of the club’s youth academy, Mount naturally has a lot of support from Chelsea’s fanbase, and his goal against Real Madrid, which rubber stamped the team’s progression to the Champions League final, was yet another step on the road to achieving legend status at Chelsea.
As someone who has been with Chelsea for so many years, Mount will be extra determined to bring the European Cup back to Stamford Bridge.