Men's Team

Sterling and Bernardo start in City's Champions League final XI

Sterling and Bernardo start in City's Champions League final XI
Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva start for City as Pep Guardiola makes two changes from the side that beat Everton 5-0 last week.

Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus make way, with Sergio Aguero among 12 named subs.

Teams

City: Ederson, Walker, Zinchenko, Dias, Stones, De Bruyne (c), Gundogan, Foden, Mahrez, Bernardo, Sterling

Subs: Steffen, Jesus, Aguero, Rodrigo, Cancelo, Mendy, Laporte, Torres, Ake, Fernandinho, Carson, Garcia

Chelsea: James, Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta, Kanté, Jorginho, Mount, Havertz, Werner

Subs: Kepa, Alonso, Christensen, Pulisic, Caballero, Zouma, Kovacic, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, Gilmour, Emerson

Probable formation: 4-3-3

The biggest surprise about tonight’s starting XI is the absence of Fernandinho and Rodrigo.

That suggests Ilkay Gundogan will pivot a midfield trio that will likely include Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden.

With no recognised striker, Sterling and Riyad Mahrez could flank the false 9 role that is likely to be occupied by Bernardo.

We won’t know if any of the above is correct until the game begins – but with five subs permitted plus another if extra time is played, there is plenty of scope to tweak and amend as the game progresses.

Foden’s moment

Every City player will be living a dream by taking part in this evening’s final, but on this, his 21st birthday,, Phil Foden’s childhood dreams of playing for the Club he loves on the biggest stage in European football is really happening.

Foden has had a magnificent season, with 49 appearances and 16 goals to his name so far.

His name is already well-known across Europe as one of the most exciting talents to emerge in years and against Chelsea in Porto, he has the chance to cement his place as one of the world’s best young players.

He has the ability and he has the temperament to take this game in his stride – will he do it? You’d put a fair amount of money on him doing just that and more.

Farewell King Kun

Whatever happens this evening, this will be the last game that Sergio Aguero will be a Manchester City player.

The Club’s record goal-scorer signed off at the Etihad in the same way he started against Swansea in 2011 – coming off the bench with half-an-hour or so remaining and scoring two goals.

Will he get an opportunity against Chelsea? His record of 15 goals in 22 appearances against the Pensioners suggests our opponents will hope he doesn’t come off the bench!

Sergio had a chance to add to that tally when he took a penalty against Chelsea earlier this month, but Edouard Mendy read his Panenka attempt and saved easily.

Should Sergio get the nod, he will be determined to erase that memory, score at least one more goal for his beloved City and leave the Club with a Champions League winner’s medal – something he has craved for the past 10 years.

Here’s hoping.

 

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Stats

It is 51 years since City last played in a major European final - beating Gornik Zabrze 2-1 in the 1970 Cup Winners' Cup final.

In European competition, Chelsea and City's only previous meeting came in the 1970-71 Cup Winners' Cup semi-final - Chelsea won both legs 1-0 to progress to the final, where they beat Real Madrid after a replay.

Both Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez have scored in the quarter-final and semi-final of this season’s UEFA Champions League for Manchester City. The last time two players scored for a team in the quarter-final, semi-final and final of a European Cup/Champions League season was Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskás in 1959-60 for Real Madrid.

If he starts, City's Phil Foden, who turned 21 on Friday, will become the third-youngest Englishman to start in a Champions League final, after Owen Hargreaves in 2001 for Bayern Munich (20 years 123 days) and Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in both 2018 (19 years 231 days) and 2019 (20 years 237 days).

Since featuring in a 2-1 defeat by Lyon in September 2018, City's Bernardo Silva is unbeaten in his past 26 Champions League matches (W23 D3) - the longest unbeaten run in the history of the competition.

Chelsea defender Thiago Silva featured in last season's Champions League final for Paris St-Germain and could become the fifth player to play in the final in consecutive seasons with different teams, after Marcel Desailly (1993 Marseille, 1994 Milan), Paulo Sousa (1996 Juventus, 1997 Borussia Dortmund), Samuel Eto'o (2009 Barcelona, 2010 Inter Milan) and Alvaro Morata (2014 Real Madrid, 2015 Juventus).

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