Pep Guardiola has taken Manchester City to within an inch of their maiden Champions League title, and the oddsmakers have sided with the debutants in their first European final appearance.
The Citizens will face Premier League peers Chelsea in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 29 and are installed as 1/2 favourites to win one of, if not the biggest betting event of the annual soccer calendar. City beat last season’s runners-up, Paris Saint-Germain, 4-1 on aggregate to qualify for Europe’s most celebrated fixture, while 7/4 underdogs Chelsea defeated Real Madrid 3-1 over two legs in their own semi-final.
Guardiola’s men have long been forecast to lift the Champions League this season but were listed as long as 2/1 just one month ago, a price that now looks extremely valuable to any who backed them.
Bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk previewed Saturday’s Premier League clash between the two teams, a dress rehearsal of sorts with three weeks to go until their European summit. City can clinch a third English top-flight title in four seasons with a win at the Etihad Stadium, while Chelsea are still hoping to tie down a top-four finish and guarantee their place in next term’s Champions League.
Former England defender Wayne Bridge represented both teams during his playing career, and his prediction forecasted a surprise victory for Thomas Tuchel’s team when they meet later in May:
It’s no wonder the runaway Premier League leaders—13 points ahead of the competition prior to this weekend—maintain their place as frontrunners after getting the better of PSG.
Guardiola has almost led the club to fulfilling its greatest mission in his fifth campaign as their coach, but the Catalan said it’s just reward following their semi-final performances, per CNN:
“What we have done the last four years has been incredible. The Champions League is the hardest and getting to the final was the hardest thing for us to achieve.
“We deserve to be there for everything we have done at the club in the past four or five years.”
Not only are City on track to end this season with a European and domestic treble (having already won the Carabao Cup), but their individual stars could lift silverware of their own.
One particular name in contention for the Premier League’s Player of the Season award is centre-back Ruben Dias, who has been a bedrock for the team during his first year in England.
The Portugal international has been a consistent thorn in the side of enemy attacks, leading to him being named a 4/1 dark horse for the Player of the Year prize. Only Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes (11/10) and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane (7/2) are at shorter odds set by the UK bookmakers, such as bet365, helped on by the fact they both play in more attacking positions.
Dias, 23, isn’t the only one of City’s stars hoping to claim the gong, however. Midfield team-mates Kevin De Bruyne (who won this award last season) and Ilkay Gundogan are each 20/1 outsiders, while Phil Foden—also gunning for the Young Player of the Year trophy—is at 33/1.
The prominence of City’s key players among the individual mentions is a sign of just how devastating Guardiola’s men have been en route to another Premier League crown. The Citizens have accumulated the most wins (25), scored the most goals (71) and conceded the fewest in the league (24) to underline their status as deserving champions.
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome at home to Chelsea, it’s now a matter of when City will secure their latest league triumph, and not if. That being said, the pressure is on the team to not disappoint when it comes to the Champions League final later this month, hoping to live up to expectations in the biggest game of the club’s history to date.