London’s glamorous Chelsea won the showdown in Porto, 1-0. German offensive midfielder Kai Havertz scored the only goal in the game after 42 minutes.
“The most important thing for us is to be able to play the game our way,” Guardiola said ahead of the encounter in Porto, hosted in front of more than 15K supporters. Chelsea got the message. Thomas Tuchel, the man in the Londoners’ dugout, stopped City from playing ‘their way’ with very high and effective pressing and all-around good tactics.
What do stats say?
City had the ball most of the time (60.4% to 39.6%), passed the ball better (88% pass success rate, compared to Chelsea’s 80%), and had more dribbles (16 to 9) and more aerial duels won (20 to 16). On the other hand, Chelsea was scored higher numbers when it came to shooting (8 to 7) and tackles (21 to 8).
Even though the game was highly entertaining, especially in the first half, there were only three shots on target during the whole match. Two of them belonged to Chelsea and one to City. Guardiola’s men also had four shots blocked, this basically being the key to Chelsea’s win. Once Havertz scored, Tuchel mastered his team’s tactics to perfection and Chelsea rarely looked in danger of conceding. Both keepers were forced into just one essential save each during the entire game.
Guardiola played Ilkay Gundogan in a deep-lying role, surprising with the omissions of both Fernandinho and Rodri. Pep tried his best so his team moved the ball quickly and Gundogan looked like the perfect fit.
“Gundogan played many years in this position,” Guardiola explained. “[We wanted to] have speed on the ball, find the small players, the brilliant players in between the lines. This was the decision,” he argued.
Tuchel and his fantastic comeback from last year’s defeat
Chelsea won the Champions League trophy nine years after their previous triumph in Munich. Immediately after the final’s last whistle, Thomas Tuchel went straight to Pep Guardiola, hugged and consoled him. The two are close since Pep’s days at Bayern.
“What a fight, we made it, 1-0. I don’t know what to say, actually,” a very emotional Tuchel told BT Sport seconds after the match in Porto finished.
Having lost the final last year, when he was PSG’s manager, made Saturday’s win in Porto even more special for Tuchel. “I was so grateful to arrive here anyway, a second consecutive final. It was so different, it feels different. It was different for everybody who was with me last year and is here with me now,” he said.
Asked about his players’ fantastic determination to win the final, Tuchel said: “We wanted to be the stone in the shoe of Man City, we encouraged everyone to step up, to focus in one on one duels.”
City ends the season as winners of the Premier League and the League Cup, while Chelsea needs extra space for their second Champions League in the trophy room, after missing out on the FA Cup in the final against Leicester.