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Five interesting things about the 2021 Champions League final

With Chelsea this week set to play in the Champions League final for the third time, here are some interesting morsels about the Blues’ showdown in Porto against Manchester City.

1971 in reverse order

On the golden anniversary of Chelsea’s first-ever continental triumph, it seems apt that the last two teams we are facing in this season’s Champions League are the same sides we beat in the semi-finals and final of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971. However, the order of our opponents has been flipped from 50 years ago when we overcame defending champions Manchester City 2-0 on aggregate in the last four before beating Real Madrid 2-1 in a replay of the final in Athens.

Another all-English affair

Our Cup Winners’ Cup victory against City in 1971 was the first time we met an English league rival in a European competition. It didn’t happen again until we beat Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-finals in April 2004 but we have met Premier League rivals more frequently on the European stage in recent years with several showdowns against Liverpool, a Champions League final meeting with Manchester United in 2008 and a 4-1 victory over Arsenal in the 2019 Europa League final in Baku.

A new experience

While there is plenty of top-level experience in the Chelsea squad, Thiago Silva is the only current Blue who has previously played in a Champions League final having started under Thomas Tuchel for Paris Saint-Germain in their 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich last year. Mateo Kovacic won the competition three times with Real Madrid but did not play in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 finals. However, the Croatian did play alongside Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Emerson, Joginho, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho in our Europa League final triumph two years ago.

Doubling up in Europe

Chelsea could claim a unique record if we win in Porto as it would make us the first team to win all three main European club competitions twice following our Champions League triumph in 2012, and victories in the Europa League in 2013 and 2019 and Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971 and 1998. Juventus, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Manchester United have also swept the board in Europe but all of them only won the Cup Winners’ Cup once before the competition was ended by UEFA in 1999.

Pitching up in Portugal

Chelsea have a decent record in Champions League matches in Portugal with three wins, a draw and two defeats in our previous six visits. Four of those games were at the Dragao Stadium where we beat Porto 1-0 in the group stage in 2009, drew 1-1 in the round of 16 in 2007 and lost 2-1 in 2004 and 2015 despite going on to top our group in both campaigns. We also recorded 1-0 wins in Lisbon against Benfica in the 2012 quarter-finals and Sporting Lisbon in the group stage in 2014.

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