Five Key Takeaways From European Football's Grandest Match; Tuchel Shines, Kante Impresses and Guardiola Makes A Mess Again
“Why couldn’t you beat a richer club? I haven’t seen a bag of money score a goal” were the words of the legendary and immortal Johann Cruyff as he referred to cash-rich clubs who sought to dominate football on the back of extraordinary expenditure and splurges on marquee players.
But the 2021 UEFA Champions League final taught us that just dishing out an insane amount of money isn’t a guarantee for success in European football’s most prestigious club competition.
🏆 𝗖𝗛𝗔𝗠𝗣𝗜𝗢𝗡𝗦 𝗢𝗙 𝗘𝗨𝗥𝗢𝗣𝗘 🏆
As Chelsea triumphed in Porto courtesy of a Kai Havertz goal in the first half, let’s take a look at the five key takeaways from the 2021 UEFA Champions League final
1. THE RISE AND RISE OF KANTE
The Frenchman has won almost every trophy there is to be won in England and Europe. He signed for Leicester City in 2015 and since then has been on an upward trajectory career-wise.
He won his first Premier League in 2016 with Leicester City, he then went to Chelsea and won another Premier League under the guidance of Antonio Conte.
2014. Debut in Ligue1 with Caen.
2015. Joins Leicester for €9m.
2016. Premier League winner with Leicester.
2017. Premier League winner with Chelsea.
2018. World Cup winner with France.
2019. Europa League winner with Chelsea.
2021. UCL winner with Chelsea.
N’GOLO KANTÉ. pic.twitter.com/OUkEgsynkD
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 29, 2021
The year after that he went to Russia and won the grandest trophy of them all – the World Cup. In 2019, he won the Europa League with Chelsea as they won against their crosstown rivals Arsenal and this season he finally won the Champions League with the Blues.
Now the only trophy remaining to be won is the Euro – and who’s to say Kante won’t add it in his kitty this summer with Les Bleus
2. MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN FOR CITY
Ever since its takeover by the City Football Group in 2008, Manchester City have seen billions of pounds pumped in at the Etihad Stadium to acquire the crème de la crème of footballing talent.
But it has all gone down the drain for the Sky Blues as they still remain without a European triumph after falling to defeat in Porto.
Coming into the match, City were slight favourites ahead of Chelsea but Pep Guardiola’s side couldn’t recreate the magic it had performed in the Premier League
3) KAI HAVERTZ MAKES HISTORY
The last two players before this final to score goals for Chelsea in the title decider were club legends Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. Now Kai Havertz has made his way into that elite list of players.
The German scored in the 42nd minute for the Blues, receiving a pass from Mason Mount and running past an onrushing Ederson to coolly slot the ball home.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 29, 2021
The 21-year old has drawn flak for inconsistent and unconvincing performances since signing for Chelsea, but his first-ever goal in the UEFA Champions League may very well have silenced all doubters
4. TUCHEL WORKS HIS MAGIC
Thomas Tuchel has won all his matches against Pep Guardiola and Manchester City after taking charge of the Blues in January 2021.
Back then no one expected the London club to comfortably finish in the top four of the Premier League, let alone win the UEFA Champions League.
But Tuchel has begun a revolution at Stamford Bridge by leading them to their second Champions League after just over four months as in charge of the Blues
5. GUARDIOLA PAYS FOR OVERCOMPLICATING TACTICS….AGAIN
Ever since joining Manchester City, Pep Guardiola has acquired the image of a manager who overcomplicates tactics and plans unnecessarily. In his past four seasons, City had bowed out at the quarter-final stage, but this time he successfully led them to the final.
Although the story was unchanged, he changed his plans this time too – playing Kevin De Bruyne as a false nine and omitting both Fernandinho and Rodri in the midfield. The Sky Blues paid a heavy price as they finished runners-up to Chelsea after coming so close to winning themselves.