Published on : 28/05/2021 – 19:54
Winner of the Premier League and the League Cup, Manchester City can achieve a historic treble on Saturday 29 May by lifting the Champions League. This conquest would reward the Pharaonic investments of the Skyblues to rise to the top of English and European football. But Chelsea, another extremely wealthy juggernaut, has the means to seize the Mancunian machine in the final.
Will Manchester City become the first club to win the Champions League in their first final since Borussia Dortmund in 1997 *? This is what Cityzens fans are hoping for. This week could end in apotheosis for them, because already, Wednesday May 26, they saw their rival, Manchester United, lose in the final of the Europa League against Villarreal (1-1, 11 shots on goal to 10).
« We all live in the yellow submarine », Laughed the musician Liam Gallagher, singer of the former group Oasis and unconditional fan of Manchester City, taking again the words of the song of the Beatles Yellow Submarine (the Villarreal club is nicknamed “the yellow submarine”, note).
But beyond the 100% local rivalry, the Skyblues dream above all of lifting the cup with big ears to confirm their supremacy and materialize the fortune invested to rebuild Manchester City and make it a formidable club.
The Cityzens armada shaped by the architect Guardiola
August 2008: Manchester City, then a modest mid-bottom club in the Premier League, without ambition or trophy since 1976, is bought by the investment fund Abu Dhabi United Group, owned by Mansour ben Zayed Al Nahyane, member of the royal family of the emirate. Passed under foreign flag, Man City then changes dimension. The new owner will invest more than 2 billion euros in transfers alone to attract the best players (Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguëro, Ederson, Riyad Mahrez, Ruben Dias …) and make the club one of the most important in Europe.
At the national level, in a very tough championship, the method works: from 2011, the trophies finally fill the shelves. Manchester City gleaned 16 titles, including five championships of England. At the European level, on the other hand, things get stuck. In nine participations in the Champions League, from 2011 to 2020, the Skyblues only get a semi-final lost in 2016.
After Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, Pep Guardiola is appointed to the post of coach, from 2016. The Catalan believes in the City project. After a half-fig, half-grape experience at Bayern Munich, the one who won the Champions League twice on the Barça bench (2009 and 2011) obtains the full powers and the means to build a team in his image on the side of Manchester . This May 29, here is the City version Guardiola in position to finally climb on the roof of Europe.
Chelsea has the experience and the means
But the task does not look easy, because opposite City, stands Chelsea. A sort of precursor to the cityzen juggernaut. Because before Abu Dhabi revamped the Mancunian club in 2008, the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich did the same with Chelsea in 2003. With colossal resources provided by their wealthy boss, the Blues quickly found themselves at the top in England.
At the European level, on the other hand, Chelsea also had a stumbling block against a glass ceiling. Money helps a lot, of course, but it is not enough to earn. In 2008 **, the Londoners came within a hair’s breadth of a first victory in the Champions League. The C1 will fall into their own hands on their second attempt, in 2012. Since then, Chelsea have also won the Europa League twice (2013 and 2019). The club coached by Thomas Tuchel since January has solid European experience.
More recently, Chelsea also dealt a symbolic and moral blow to Manchester City by winning at the Etihad Stadium in the league and in added time on May 8 (2-1). A setback of no consequence in the standings for City, already champion. But this victory for the Londoners took on an important value because it came just after the semi-finals of the Champions League. A serious call to order for Manchester City, who dreams of a Premier League – League Cup – Champions League hat-trick unseen in England since the one achieved in 1999 by Manchester United (Premier League – FA Cup – Champions League) .
* BVB beat Juventus 3-1 in the final. Since then, all the clubs which played their first final have lost: Valencia in 2000 against Real Madrid, Leverkusen in 2002 against Real Madrid, Monaco in 2004 against Porto, ** Chelsea in 2008 against Manchester United, Tottenham in 2019 against Liverpool, Paris in 2020 against Bayern Munich.