Manchester City on Tuesday broke the UEFA Champions League final jinx, reaching the prestigious league final for the first time in their history. It has been a top priority for City’s Abu Dhabi-based hierarchy, since they doled out millions of pounds to secure the majority ownership of the Manchester club in 2008.
In February 2016, Pep Guardiola was anointed to deliver the Champions League trophy to the Manchester side, but his wand has failed to perform the magic that leads to the final.
Guardiola has come under heavy criticism for his huge spending aimed at getting City on the list of Champions League winners. It was fueled by his five-year heart-breaking failures.
Man City has spent over £500m ($707m) since Pep took over, a sum believed to deserve a double of Champions League honor.
Since 2016, the closest the Pep team has come to the Champions League trophy was quarter finals, making their two-leg win over Paris Saint Germain (PSG) an unforgettable moment for the club, and the fans who have waited so long.
When Man City’s Algerian midfielder Mahrez netted two goals against PSG in Tuesday’s showdown, it sealed the club’s hope of going to Istanbul.
Mahrez scored the opener in the 11th minute from a tight angle in the area following a rebound by PSG’s defense.
Man City, who previously won the first leg 2-1 in Paris, secured the 2-0 victory to make their way to the final in Istanbul.
“To reach the final of this competition is so difficult. It is the toughest one, the quality of the opponent and the composure you have to have to suffer the toughest moments.
“We did it. We made an incredible Champions League season and now deserve to be there in the final,” Guardiola said.
While there is more work to do to don the crown, reaching the final for the first time is a major milestone in City’s pedigree, a club who for many years was considered an underdog.
Meanwhile, City’s English rivals, Chelsea secured a 2.0 win against Spanish giants Real Madrid, to set up an all English final.
The Blues held Los Blancos to a 1-1 draw in Madrid, during the first leg of their encounter to keep the chances for both teams wide open. However, scoring two unreplied goals in England sealed their quest to reach the final.
Qualifying for the final is an incredible feat for Thomas Tuchel, who inherited a poorly-rated Chelsea from former midfielder Frank Lampard, earlier in January.
“I’m very happy we’ve achieved this. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to live my life in football and this passion as a profession. So grateful to do it on this level and to get to another final, I’m very grateful for that,” Tuchel told BT Sport.
Chelsea having won the elite trophy before casts enormous pressure on City that is yet to touch it, and has been on spending spree to get on the list of winners.
Although the London club is considered the underdog in the duel given Man City’s current form, Tuchel’s incredible back-to-back Champions League final record with two different clubs (PSG 2019/20) and now Chelsea, shows his team cannot be taken for granted.
It will be the third time two English teams will meet in the final. It happened in 2008 (Chelsea v Manchester United) and 2019 (Liverpool v Tottenham). And it’s only the eighth time two teams from the same nation will be contesting the final, with Spanish teams also doing so a joint record three times – 2000 (Real Madrid vs Valencia) and 2014 & 2016 (Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid).
Chelsea’s female team is also set up for a final against Barcelona’s female team, making it the first time both male and female teams of a club are reaching the final of Champions League in the same season.