After several months and weeks, this season’s UEFA Champions League will end in style in Portugal this weekend.
The final match was initially scheduled for the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul. However, events have since overtaken that and the world is looking at the Iberian Peninsula, specifically, the Estadio do Dragao in Lisbon, for this football celebration.
While the importance of winning the Champions League is invaluable, the question of who wants it more among the parties that would battle it out in the 2021 final begs for answers.
Guardiola in another final
For some, Pep Guardiola needs this more than anyone else, having been unable to add to his two triumphs-the last which was with Barcelona in 2011.
In quite a remarkable way, Guardiola in 12 seasons as a first-team boss, has lifted nine league titles. Unfortunately, the last of his two managerial UEFA Champions League winners’ medals a decade ago.
On Saturday, the Spaniard has his sights set on becoming just the sixth coach to win the European Cup with two different clubs.
Guardiola badly wants this as he is keen to prove critics who have concluded he cannot win the Champions League without exceptional players like Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta wrong though many agree that his City squad boasts some of the best footballers in the world.
The squad includes the mercurial Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan, and an exceptional goalkeeper in Ederson.
Tuchel too in another final
Unlike Guardiola, winning the Champions League is not yet on the German coach’s CV either as a player or in his managerial career.
Tuchel already has a piece of the enviable records in the Champions League as he is the first man to lead two different clubs to successive UEFA Champions League finals.
Since stepping into the shoes of Frank Lampard at Chelsea in late January, Tuchel has been a revelation. He won back-to-back titles in France with PSG and reached the final last season, having had success in Germany with Dortmund prior to that.
In a season where he has set and broken many records as a manager, some believe Tuchel badly needs a trophy in this maiden season for the Blues.
For many others, however, having finished in top-four already, Tuchel has done well enough and can now take a go at winning the Champions League right next season- starting from scratch.
Manchester City after more than $1 billion investment
Despite the personal goals of the two managers, Manchester City, as a club, needs this more badly than either of the two managers, as opportunities like this don’t come too often.
With an estimated investment of over $1 billion in players and other personnel in the last five years, City has waited for so long to join the exclusive list of Champions League winners and there is no gainsaying they are ripe for this glorious moment.
Over the years, City’s attacking brilliance has been long-established, but they’ve added greater defensive solidity, with only four goals conceded in their 12 games played so far.
This season, the Cityzens have overcome their quarter-final hoodoo before boosting their self-belief with an emphatic semi-final triumph against PSG.
They have surely banished any doubts about their ability to go all the way.
Saturday, May 29, appears like the perfect time to end the long wait.
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