By Lucien Betancourt and Diego De Souza
It’s decision time. We’ve gone from the original 32 Champions League teams all the way down to two that will play on May 29th in Istanbul. The remaining sides are Manchester City and Chelsea. Congratulations to them both for completing such a difficult journey to the Champions League final. But before we talk about that, let’s discuss those semifinals.
Real Madrid vs Chelsea
The first leg was played in Estadio Di Stefano in Madrid. Chelsea got a quick start to the first half with a goal by American forward Christian Pulisic in the 14th minute. This lead didn’t last long though, as Karim Benzema equalized in the 29th minute with a sensational scissor kick on Real Madrid’s first real chance of the game. Give Benzema an inch and you will be punished. The first half was exhilarating, but the second was frankly disappointing. Both sides came out very conservatively and appeared to settle for a dras. The game ended at 1-1, with a slight advantage for Chelsea heading to Stamford Bridge, their home stadium, as they had a lead on the away goal tiebreaker. In the 28th minute, a shot by Chelsea midfielder Kai Havertz bounced off the crossbar and into the air where Chelsea striker Timo Werner headed it into the net to grant Chelsea the lead. The first half then quieted down other than a pair of vital saves of Karim Benzema shots by Chelsea goalie Edouard Mendy. The second half got to a slow start, with Real Madrid getting frustrated and getting 3 yellow cards. In the 85th minute, Chelsea had a breakaway on the wing and Christian Pulisic crossed the ball into the box where midfielder Mason Mount was waiting unmarked to score. Real Madrid failed to respond and the game ended 2-0. Chelsea go on to the final on the aggregate score of 3-1 and will play Manchester City in the final. Real Madrid’s full focus now is in the La Liga title race where they currently sit 2 points away from the leading Atlético Madrid.
Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester City
The first leg was played in Parc Des Princes in Paris. PSG got a quick start to the first half with a goal by defender Marquinios in the 15th minute, and the game stayed 1-0 into the half. In the 60th minute, Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne whipped a cross towards the goal that went untouched and went past PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas for the score to tie the game at 1. Shortly after, midfielder Riyad Mahrez then took a free kick through the wall and into the bottom left corner and took the lead for Manchester City, 2-1. A couple of minutes later, things got worse for the home side as midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye tackled Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan outside the box. Gueye got sent off with a straight red card. For the rest of the time, the two teams, especially PSG, were getting frustrated, hacking at each other constantly. Other than that, PSG stalled out compared to the first half and the game ended 2-1 in Manchester City’s favor, with the return leg going to the Etihad in Manchester. At home, Manchester City got a quick start with a goal by Riyad Mahrez. For the rest of the first half, both teams got some shots on goal with nothing to show for it. In the 63rd minute, Mahrez got another chance from a Phil Foden cross and slotted it in. 5 minutes later, Angel Di Maria of PSG got sent off for losing his head in response to a poor Fernandinho tackle. The game ended 2-0, meaning a Manchester City victory on a 4-1 aggregate. PSG had no shots on goal, with Manchester City’s defense holding strong. Manchester City will go onto their first Champions League final in history. PSG will now look to overtake Lille, win Ligue 1, and try to win the Coupe de France which they are in the semifinals of. Regardless of how those competitions turn out, this defeat will be rough for PSG and could have implications for the future of some of their star players, specifically Kylian Mbappe.
Manchester City vs Chelsea Preview
It’s the last challenge for these 2 teams. All eyes are set on Istanbul, where this historic battle will take place. Manchester City can win their first ever Champions League, and Chelsea can add a second to their collection. In their 2 games played against each other in 2020-2021, both had one win against the other. It’s a really close matchup here. Chelsea have had much success with a heavy defensive game in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-2-1 formation. Like Chelsea, Manchester City are a heavy defense team that usually line up in a 4-3-3. Manchester City have the upper hand here, having a well rounded team in general and in great league form. Chelsea have also been in great form, but we don’t see them beating Manchester City. Our early prediction is that Manchester City will win the final 2-1 after extra time and will take home their first UCL title.