Key lessons Man City and Chelsea before the Champions League final

Stop Guardiola overloading midfield, don’t allow Timo Werner in behind and prevent him linking up with Hakim Ziyech… the key tactical lessons Man City and Chelsea must learn from their three games this season ahead of the Champions League final

  • Chelsea and Manchester City meet in the Champions League final on Saturday
  • It will be their third meeting this season with Chelsea winning the last two
  • City demolished Frank Lampard’s Blues at Stamford Bridge just after Christmas
  • But Thomas Tuchel has won the last two games, including an FA Cup semi-final
  • Sportsmail looks back at all three encounters this season and how they were won

Manchester City and Chelsea will meet for the fourth time this season in Saturday’s Champions League final and both managers will have been able to learn lessons about their teams and opponents from the previous three head-to-heads.

Pep Guardiola’s City side demolished the Blues at Stamford Bridge over the festive period as they embarked on that lengthy, winning run that took them to the Premier League title.

But it is Thomas Tuchel who has had the upper hand in their last two meetings, winning an FA Cup semi-final and at the Etihad in the Premier League earlier this month.

Ahead of their meeting in Porto, Sportsmail looks back at all three encounters so far this season and how they were won.

Manchester City and Chelsea have met three times this season with Thomas Tuchel (right) winning both of the games he has been in charge of against Pep Guardiola (left)

Game One

Chelsea 1 Manchester City 3 – Stamford Bridge, January 3

This was a game City would take the positives from, a comprehensive win at Stamford Bridge in which the final scoreline still flattered Chelsea.

City were exceptional on this day, 3-0 up inside 34 minutes. Before Chelsea’s late consolation Pep Guardiola’s side could easily have had twice as many goals.

This was Chelsea’s first game of January and Frank Lampard did not make it until the end of the month, losing his job following the FA Cup win over Luton.

When City came to Chelsea, there was such a gap between the teams, the Londoners were so outclassed Lampard after the game described the defeat as a ‘reality check’ and an example of the pain a team has to go through when rebuilding. 

City were superb at Stamford Bridge on January 3, producing a thumping win over the Blues

He was not given much longer to continue what he had started.

City were Covid hit on the day, starting with No 2 Zack Steffen in goal and Kevin De Bruyne as a false nine, while Chelsea lined up in a 4-3-3.

The home side failed to get close enough to City and disrupt them, allowing them to build up play, link up and weave their patterns all over the pitch.

Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling stayed wide, full-backs Oleksandr Zinchenko and Joao Cancelo got forward and into more central areas to help City have more bodies in midfield to help retain possession and overrun Chelsea.

While City produced one of their statement performances of the season, it was one to forget for Chelsea. They were defensively poor, disorganised and error-prone.

City full-backs Oleksandr Zinchenko and Joao Cancelo were allowed to overload the midfield

Game Two

Chelsea 1 Manchester City 0 – Wembley, April 17

And that was all in stark contrast to the FA Cup semi-final a few months later when the roles were reversed.

Chelsea got everything spot on, with this meeting highlighting the improvements they had made under Thomas Tuchel. If defending was an issue at Stamford Bridge it was one of their strengths at Wembley.

Chelsea have been well-drilled under Tuchel and in this cup clash it was clear to see in how they blunted Manchester City’s attacking threat, restricting them to shots from long range and hopeful crosses into the box.

For the likes of Antonio Rudiger and Thiago Silva especially, it was routine work. 

Tuchel made the most of Timo Werner’s searing pace in the FA Cup semi-final win at Wembley

Reece James and Ben Chilwell kept City’s full-backs occupied so they couldn’t build attacks

Going forward, Tuchel, who deployed a 3-4-3, utilised the pace, in particular, of Timo Werner and clever runs of Hakim Ziyech to take advantage of the space in behind City’s defence on the counter.

The two combined for a first-half goal that was ruled out for offside and then for the eventual winner in the second half. When Christian Pulisic replaced Mason Mount and Kai Havertz replaced Ziyech towards the end, that threat remained.

Pulisic also had a goal ruled out after breaking beyond City’s backline just a second too early. While City’s full-backs were able to get forward in the first league game, Reece James and Ben Chilwell kept them occupied in the semi-final hindering their attempts to build up the same attacking momentum they enjoyed previously.

City were much-changed at Wembley but this was a victory that earned Chelsea a place in the final and also provided plenty of food for thought for Tuchel.

Game Three

Manchester City 1 Chelsea 2 – Etihad Stadium, May 8

This was a game that offered hope to both managers. Firstly Manchester City. 

Playing for the title on this day, they took the lead through Raheem Sterling and should have had a second but Sergio Aguero fluffed a panenka penalty. They maybe should have had another penalty late on when Sterling was brought down by Kurt Zouma.

The game ended in defeat for Pep Guardiola’s men but there were crumbs of comfort in the way they unsettled Chelsea, particularly towards the end of the first half.

Only Aguero’s penalty fail prevented them taking a lead that might well have meant game over. Chelsea’s second-half response would have pleased Tuchel.

Chelsea’s equaliser at the Etihad came from Hakim Ziyech, who also scored at Wembley

Werner’s pace saw him get in behind and cross for Marcos Alonso to score a late winning goal

Just as at Wembley, they smothered City to regain possession and launch the move that led to their equaliser then found space in behind via Timo Werner who crossed for Marcos Alonso to score the winner.

They were close to two further goals with Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi both having efforts ruled out for offside.

Chelsea’s equaliser came from Ziyech, who scored for the second time in quick succession against City.

Sometimes, certain players do well against certain opposition.

Could that be something for Tuchel to consider as he mulls over his team for the Champions League final?

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