Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Villaflor: And the English Rule Europe

Following a 2-0 surgical win over Real Madrid in their semifinal second-leg Thursday, May 6, Chelsea secured a Champions League finals meeting with fellow English side Manchester City.

City vs. Chelsea will only be the third all-English Champions League finals in history, following Manchester United vs. Chelsea in 2008 and, more recently, Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur in 2019.

The Blues humbled the Spanish giants with goals from Timo Werner in the 28th minute and from Mason Mount on the 85th to advance to the finals 3-1 on aggregate.

Manager Thomas Tuchel’s side will now face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on May 29.

In their second-leg semifinal on Tuesday, May 5, City foiled Paris Saint-Germain’s comeback plans with well-executed counter attacks that led to goals on the 11th and 63rd minutes, both from Riyad Mahrez.

Needing to score four goals to advance to the finals, PSG seemed to play a desperate, lost cause at the City of Manchester Stadium.

In the 69th minute as he was picking a ball from the sidelines, Angel di Maria stomped on the feet of Fernandinho, and was promptly red carded.

Di Maria’s moment of madness sums up the frustration PSG must have felt watching a consecutive Champions League finals appearance melt away like snow in a quiet stadium.

Not that Manchester City didn’t deserve to win the two-leg semifinals 4-1 on aggregate.

City absolutely were just more lethal, more efficient, more accurate, and more disciplined, all traits that champions possess.

And at the domestic front, Guardiola’s squad is on the verge of winning its fifth English Premier League title if it defeats -- of all teams -- Chelsea at home on Sunday, May 9, a Champions League finals preview of sorts.

Still fighting for next year’s Champions League spot at fourth place, Chelsea, even if it wins on Sunday will unlikely derail City’s march to the domestic throne.

But the pedigreed Blues, Champions League winners of 2012, certainly have an equal chance of lifting the trophy in Istanbul on May 29, and spoil City’s debut party for European glory.


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