The domestic leagues around Europe have finished, but there are still two very important fixtures that are yet to be played. The two European finals take centre stage this week, but which soccer predictions should fans make for these games?
Champions League Final
The biggest game in club football takes place on Saturday, as for the third time in history it will be an all-English affair. Premier League champions Manchester City will be looking to complete a treble, after adding the league title to the League Cup they won this season. Chelsea will be hoping to avoid more final disappointment after losing to Leicester City in the FA Cup final just a couple of weeks ago.
Pep Guardiola will lead his Manchester City side into the Champions League final ten years after winning his second European honour with Barcelona. The Champions League is the trophy that the City hierarchy have craved throughout their ownership, and they have never had a better opportunity than this weekend. City breezed through the group stages, as they dropped just two points and conceded one goal. Guardiola’s side needed to be at their brilliant best in the previous two rounds to see off Borussia Dortmund and PSG. Their 2-0 victory at the Etihad against PSG sealed their spot in the final.
Chelsea also breezed through their group stage, as they won four of the six games that they played. The Blues, led by Thomas Tuchel throughout the knockout rounds following the departure of Frank Lampard, have seen off both the newly crowned Spanish champions, and last season’s Portuguese champions. Their performances against Atletico ensured that their fans could afford to dream of winning the competition, as they very rarely looked in trouble of conceding, let alone losing against Diego Simeone’s side. Chelsea saw off Real Madrid in the semi-finals, as they were excellent in the return leg to claim a 2-0 victory. Tuchel will be able to rest assured that his side will be in the Champions League next season, as the Blues sealed their spot in the top four on the final day of the Premier League season. However, winning the Champions League for the second time in the club’s history would ensure that they are on the right track.
Tuchel will be looking to banish the ghosts from 12 months ago, as he was unable to lead PSG to a final success against Bayern Munich. However, his record against Guardiola since taking over at Stamford Bridge is excellent. The German has already seen his side beat City in both the Premier League and FA Cup semi-finals since January.
This is a completely different proposition this weekend, as City will be looking to make history on the biggest stage. Chelsea have the players to hurt City on the counter-attack, but their recent performance levels have dipped. City have maintained their form, and they could produce a special performance to deliver to a first Champions League success to the Etihad.
Europa League Final
The first of the two finals this week will be the Europa League final, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to guide Manchester United to their first trophy under his management. Villarreal will be United’s opponents this week in Gdansk, as the LaLiga side looks to claim success in their first-ever European final.
There is absolutely no denying that positive steps have been made by United this season, as they finished second in the Premier League and reached the latter stages of both the League Cup and FA Cup. However, a piece of silverware is needed to show that Solskjaer has installed the much-needed winning mentality within his squad. United dropped into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group, and have delivered some of their best performances under the Norwegian in this competition. The toughest assignment United faced on their way to the final game against AC Milan, as they snuck through courtesy of a second leg goal by Paul Pogba. Their place in the final was effectively sealed after one leg against Roma, as they won 6-2 at Old Trafford with Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani, both scoring two goals each.
Villarreal have been strong throughout the Europa League this season, as they are yet to lose a game. Defensively they have been very strong in the knockout rounds, as they have conceded just three goals in the eight games that they have played. They needed to ride their luck in the semi-final, as they played out a tense 0-0 draw at the Emirates after winning the game in Spain 2-1. Unai Emery would have taken pleasure from that win against his former side, and his reputation in the Europa League finals shouldn’t be forgotten. Emery won this competition on three occasions during his time with Sevilla, and was a runner-up in the 2018-19 season with the Gunners.
Villarreal and United have met on four previous occasions. However, all matches have come in the Champions League, and had all ended 0-0. Spanish sides have performed well against English opposition in the finals of a European competition, as they have won the previous nine.
The pressure will be on United on Wednesday, but we expect the Red Devils to have far too much quality in the attacking third to let this opportunity pass them by. An early goal would set the tone, and it would be hard to see past Cavani having a say in the huge occasion.