Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City is 90 minutes away from the trophy it so desperately craves but a Chelsea side transformed in recent months stands in its way in Saturday’s all-English Champions League final.
It is the third final of Europe’s elite club competition to be played between two Premier League sides, and the second in just three seasons.
The west London club has the experience of this stage before, having beaten Bayern Munich on penalties on its own turf in the 2012 final.
It has also won the Europa League twice since then.
City, though, has never made it this far but is finally here, after four previous years of disappointment under Guardiola, the man who was hired principally to win it.
“We are quite a similar team to what we were in the past when we were knocked out. The margins and little details this year fell down on our side whereas before it was the opposite,” said Guardiola, who is looking to win his third Champions League as a coach, a decade after his last victory with Barcelona.
City starring the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Ruben Dias is the clear favourite at the Estadio do Dragao.
Chelsea, though, has beaten City twice in the last six weeks, first in the FA Cup semi-final and then at the Etihad Stadium in the league.
“I could not expect a tougher opponent,” Guardiola said.
Chelsea has been transformed since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as coach in January, even if it did finish the domestic season with three defeats in four games including the FA Cup final against Leicester City.
“We have arrived here. This is an incredible achievement and once you arrive you want to be on your very best, but it’s City with Pep on the other side who are maybe at the moment the best in Europe, maybe in the world,” said Tuchel, who was given a boost as fitness concerns Edouard Mendy and N’Golo Kante returned to training on Wednesday.
“It is on us again to close the gap for 90 minutes and the good thing is we did it already.”
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