CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL COMBINED XI: Kevin De Bruyne is a shoo-in, while Timo Werner’s form on the continent has been formidable… but who gets the nod in goal, and who leads the line for Sportsmail’s line-up?
- Chelsea and Manchester City go head-to-head in the Champions League final
- Both sides have relied on stand-out performers to help them reach this stage
- Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the best combined line-up from the two teams
Chelsea and Manchester City get their last shot at glory this season when they meet in the Champions League final in Porto.
The Blues are aiming for a repeat of their success nine years ago in the competition when they beat Bayern Munich on penalties, while a win would represent City’s first crown.
But who would make the XI if Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel’s sides were mixed? Here, Sportsmail picks out a combined XI ahead of the final to crown the kings of Europe.
The Senegalese’s story from claiming benefits to appearing in a Champions League final will inspire those around the world, and he has demonstrated the talent to back it up.
Mendy has kept a remarkable eight clean sheets in 11 Champions League matches this season in the Blues’ run to the final – which is more than his opposite number Ederson – including in the semi-final second leg against Real Madrid.
The Brazilian retained the Premier League Golden Glove this season but Mendy will hope to get one over him in Europe, having become a key component of Thomas Tuchel’s backline following his summer move from Rennes.
Edouard Mendy has kept eight clean sheets in 11 Champions League matches this season
Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
The England right-back has excelled at both ends of the field since joining City from Tottenham in 2017.
He has won three Premier League titles, four League Cups and the FA Cup already at City but earlier this week described a Champions League medal as ‘the pinnacle of football’.
He has played in all bar two of City’s games in their run to the final, which he predicts is ‘going to be a little bit of a chess game.’
But with the experience he has gained at the age of 31, Walker could be a key part of that tactical duel for Pep Guardiola’s men, supporting attacks with dangerous crosses and showing his pace of recovery to thwart Chelsea counters.
Kyle Walker showed his desire to win the Champions League, describing it as the ‘pinnacle’
Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
The comfortable winner of the Football Writers’ Association’s men’s Footballer of the Year, it has been quite the year for Ruben Dias since joining City from Benfica.
Emerging as one of the world’s leading centre-backs, Dias has already proved his value to City, partnering John Stones for large periods as they helped formed the backbone of their Premier League and Carabao Cup wins.
Dias pointed to the semi-final first-leg win against Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital as the moment when he truly believed his side could win this season’s Champions League.
But as well as his defensive nous – which helped the Premier League champions concede just 32 league goals in 2020-21 – it is Dias’ leadership which Guardiola will need to come to the fore for victory in the centre-back’s home nation.
Ruben Dias has emerged as one of the world’s leading centre-backs in his first season at City
Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Perhaps one of the best individual comebacks of the season, the Germany international is now a central cog in Chelsea’s backline.
Largely frozen out by Frank Lampard but reinstated by Thomas Tuchel, Rudiger has revived his Blues career with some excellent, commanding displays at the back in the second half of the season.
Rio Ferdinand believes the 28-year-old is among the very best in the league and reports have suggested the west London side will open talks with Rudiger’s representatives after Euro 2020.
But there will be no greater reward for his resurgence than a Champions League final victory against a side the Blues have beaten twice in recent months.
Antonio Rudiger has revived his career under Thomas Tuchel with commanding displays
Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)
Unlike Rudiger, Chilwell needed a bit of time to make his way into Tuchel’s side, with Marcos Alonso re-entering the fray for the left-back role upon Lampard’s departure.
But having proven himself in the wing-back role, the England international – who joined the Blues in a £50million deal last summer – edges out the Spaniard as well as City left-backs Oleksandr Zinchenko and Benjamin Mendy here.
The 24-year-old was ruled offside as Chelsea were dramatically denied a late equaliser in the FA Cup final defeat by former club Leicester, but it showed the threat he can offer right until the death.
And having stated his desire to emulate Chelsea’s 2012 heroes, Chilwell will hope to have a decisive impact which stands this time around.
Ben Chilwell slots in at left-back after an impressive first season at Stamford Bridge
N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s worries leading up to the final were centred around the fitness of the midfielder, demonstrating his importance to the side.
After a below-par couple of years, Kante has dominated opposition midfields once again this term, putting in energetic performances in both legs of the semi-final against Real Madrid.
City know all about Kante too after he ran them ragged at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final, and having won Premier League titles with both Leicester and Chelsea, the Frenchman is now hoping to add the Champions League to his trophy haul.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
A completely different skillset to Kante but in the same world-class bracket, De Bruyne finished second to Harry Kane for Premier League assists this term with 12.
His City trophy haul is even more impressive, with three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and five League Cups, which have been won in part thanks to his ingenuity and his proclivity in creating chances.
Few players in the world can match the threat he possesses in the final third and from set pieces, and now he could claim the biggest prize of them all in Porto.
The Premier League has been left marvelling at his ability for years, but now he is primed to let the rest of Europe join in the appreciation in the final of all finals.
N’Golo Kante and Kevin De Bruyne would make for a formidable partnership in any midfield
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
There’s little doubt about Foden’s place in the City XI and our combined XI side due to the stunning nature of his season, which has seen him score 16 goals and dazzle supporters around the globe.
With three goals and three assists in 12 Champions League games this season, the 21-year-old has ousted Raheem Sterling from the starting XI.
He either scored or assisted in each of City’s knockout games except the first legs against Borussia Monchengladbach and Paris Saint-Germain.
But having become the local hero in a team full of mega-money signings and superstars, a first ever Champions League crown would matter to few more than Foden.
Phil Foden has scored three goals and assisted as many in the Champions League this term
Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
The Algerian winger’s record in Europe for Man City had been underwhelming heading into this season. But that is no longer the case.
City were heading out of the Champions League before Mahrez stepped up to convert a pressure penalty at Signal Iduna Park against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-final second leg.
He then scored a crucial second from a free-kick at the Parc des Princes before netting both goals to nullify any potential Paris Saint-Germain comeback in the second leg.
Sportsmail revealed the 30-year-old is on City’s for-sale list this summer, and there would be no better way to bow out with a win and cap off an impressive Champions League campaign.
Riyad Mahrez scored both of Man City’s goals in the semi-final second leg against PSG
Timo Werner (Chelsea)
The Germany striker has had his fair amount of critics this season, but there have been flashes of what he can produce too.
His header against Real Madrid was nothing to write home about but it helped settle the nerves for a Chelsea side that had started to face the threat of Karim Benzema.
He has made a decisive impact against City twice this season too, setting up Hakim Ziyech’s goal in the FA Cup semi-final and assisting Marcos Alonso’s last-gasp winner at the Etihad Stadium in their 2-1 Premier League win.
With four goals and two assists in 11 European games this term – the same as Mahrez – Werner has shown he has the ability to turn a frustrating first season at Stamford Bridge in one that will live long in the memory.
Timo Werner has scored four goals and assisted two in the Champions League this term
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
No Chelsea or Man City player has scored more Champions League goals in 2020-21 than Olivier Giroud, who netted four in a single game against Sevilla in the group stages.
In truth, the 34-year-old has seen little action across all competitions since netting a wonderful, acrobatic effort away at Atletico Madrid, the latest of his six European goals this campaign.
But only Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland have scored more Champions League goals this term, and the Frenchman’s physicality would provide Ruben Dias and John Stones with an aerial threat too.
The striker may not see a future at Stamford Bridge beyond this game, but with City also lacking a clinical forward in their ranks currently, Giroud gets the nod for us here.
Only Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland have scored more Champions League goals than Olivier Giroud this season
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