Chelsea and Manchester City are due to face off in Porto on Saturday to determine the fate of this year’s Champions League. Having met three times already this season, several key battles have already been established. This is where the Champions League Final could be won or lost.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount vs Manchester City’s Fernandinho
Mason Mount has been Chelsea’s best player this season and bagged a vital goal in the Semi-Final against Real Madrid.
Fernandinho has had to fight for his place this season, but Pep Guardiola has favoured his experience in the bigger games.
These two clashed in the FA Cup Semi-Final, with Chelsea fans unable to believe how many fouls Fernandinho committed on the England international. Mount is Chelsea’s key player, so the way that City’s captain handles him this time, is likely to determine how the Blues play.
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne vs Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante
These two are arguably the best in the world in their respective positions. The natural ability of De Bruyne against the incredible work rate of Kante will be fascinating to watch.
City have played without a striker for large parts of this season. The fluidity of their system makes it difficult to guess exactly who’ll be up against De Bruyne, if anyone. Regardless of where he plays, he’s proved his importance to this side over and over again.
Thomas Tuchel will surely be turning to his standout midfielder to try and stifle De Bruyne’s magic. If he can do it, he may well win the game for Chelsea.
Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez vs Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger
Mahrez was excellent in both legs against PSG, scoring once in Paris and bagging two at the Etihad. He loves to cut in from that left-hand side, which will bring him up against Chelsea’s formidable Antonio Rudiger.
Another side effect of City playing without a striker, is that the goal-scoring burden is shared around their squad. Mahrez has a wicked left foot, so will be expected to step up in that regard in Porto.
His opponent – Rudiger – has come into his own under Tuchel, with his physical prowess now backed up by intelligent positional play.
Rio Ferdinand has suggested he’s become one of the best defenders in the Premier League. If he can take that form into Tuesday’s final, he could be massive for Chelsea.
There are so many quality players in either squad, that it’s nearly impossible to accurately predict exactly who could make the difference. Despite that, these three matchups could well decide whether the Champions League trophy heads to London or Manchester.