Thank heavens the Champions League final is being played in Portugal, now Turkey’s off the menu (sorry). It will certainly be a damn sight easier to get to than Wembley: have you tried to go round the North Circular these days? And at least the capital will not have to accommodate what is ominously described as ‘the Uefa family’, all 2,000 of them. Pity no one told them about family planning. And where would you prefer to go out for a post-match bite: Porto or Wembley Way?
Anyway, then we will see quite how far Chelsea have got inside Manchester City’s head, with two very efficient victories in the League and the FA Cup in the past month. And the pressure on City with all that stuff about this being the owner’s dream will be seriously intense come the final. What a mouthwatering prospect — and what a contrast in styles.
Tuchel knows how to set up a team for a one-off match; Guardiola knows how to set up a team to win long-term, season after season. This Chelsea has the feel of Brian Clough’s great Nottingham Forest side: powerful in defense and skillful, fast and exquisite to watch on the break. Attacking possession football against counter-attacking possession football. Fans of either side should be feeling anxious as well as excited.
But two English clubs making it all the way might say something about the Premier League, although they are foreign-owned, foreign-managed and largely staffed by extremely talented and highly paid foreigners.
Though not entirely. Both have a sprinkling of very good English players, which should be a cause of optimism for the coming European Championship. Mount, Foden and Grealish might sound like a strange instruction to party but could be England’s midfield for the Euros. What a dazzling combination — probably not defensive enough for Southgate, who might prefer Henderson and Rice in the midfield, but it shows the riches available to the English manager. And that’s before we get to Kane, Sterling and Rashford up front.