Soccer

Who Will Win the 2021 UEFA Champions League?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07: Ilkay Guendogan of Manchester City (hidden) celebrates with John Stones and teammates after scoring their team's second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on February 07, 2021 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

The stage is set for the Semi-Finals of the UEFA Champions League. Real Madrid will take on Chelsea, and Manchester City will play Paris Saint-Germain. It will be a two-leg, home-and-home tie. These matches will indeed take place after UEFA threatened to eliminate three of the clubs involved due to the Super League debacle.

Although all four of these teams have a shot at winning the Champions League, I believe one team is head-and-shoulders above the rest.

Chelsea

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea celebrates with teammates after scoring their team's first goal during the Semi Final of the Emirates FA Cup match between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Wembley Stadium on April 17, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.
Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chelsea is currently in fourth place in England’s Premier League. The Blues won Group E of the Champions League Group Stage. They took on Atlético Madrid in the last 16, easily winning 3-0 on aggregate. Chelsea then faced Portuguese side, Porto, in the quarter-final, barely winning 2-1 on aggregate. 

Chelsea is a good team with promising young talent. Mason Mount, Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham, Kai Havertz, and Christian Pulisic have bright futures. Their top scorer in all competitions is Tammy Abraham with 12, Olivier Giroud with 11, and Timo Werner with 10. Goals are widely distributed throughout the team. The problem for Chelsea this season has been inconsistency. They have the least strong squad out of the remaining teams. For those reasons, they will not win the Champions League.  

Real Madrid

TOPSHOT - Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the "El Clasico" Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Valdebebas, on the outskirts of Madrid on April 10, 2021.
JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid is in joint first place in La Liga in Spain. They share the top of the table with their crosstown rival Atlético Madrid. Real Madrid narrowly won Group B in the Champions League group stage. They went on to play Italian side Atalanta in the last 16 and won 4-1 over two legs. Madrid then played last year’s Premier League winner, Liverpool, in the quarter-finals. Madrid comfortably won 3-1 on aggregate. 

Real Madrid is 13-time winners of the competition, by far the most of any other team. Although they are dangerous, they do not have a squad as deep as in previous years. Their top scorer, Karim Benzema, has 27 goals in all competitions. Vinicius Júnior, Marco Asensio and Casemiro each follow with six. The 33-year-old Benzema has carried this team, and they have dealt with many injuries. Star Eden Hazard has been injured most of the season and is doubtful to play against his former team in the Semi-Final. 

Who Wins?

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 06: Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match between Real Madrid and Liverpool FC at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on April 06, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. Sporting stadiums around Spain remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.
Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Although Real Madrid is not as dominant in years past, they will beat Chelsea and advance to the Champions League Final. Real Madrid vs. Chelsea will be entertaining, but the most enticing matchup of the Semi-Final is Manchester City vs. Paris Saint-Germain. 

Paris Saint-Germain

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 07: Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match between FC Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain at Allianz Arena on April 07, 2021 in Munich, Germany. Sporting stadiums around Germany remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain is the most successful team in France in recent history, winning seven of the last eight Ligue 1 titles. They are currently in second place, one point behind leader Lille. PSG won Group H on goal difference. The Parisians had the toughest last 16 and quarter-final draw.       

PSG handled Barcelona 5-2 on aggregate, including a big 4-1 win at Camp Nou. PSG then barely got by Bayern Munich on away goals in the quarter-final. They got revenge on Bayern after losing to them in last year’s Final. 

Paris is led by superstars Kylian Mbappé and Neymar. Mbappé has 35 goals in all competitions, while Neymar has fewer (14), mainly due to injuries. Other notable players include Moise Kean, Mauro Icardi and Ángel Di María. They have a deep squad, and multiple players can take over games. They will be highly motivated to get back to the Final after losing last year. Paris has everything they need to win the Champions League. Will PSG have enough to beat Manchester City?   

Manchester City

TOPSHOT - Manchester City's English midfielder Phil Foden (C, hidden) celebrates scoring the 1-2 goal with his team-mates and Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between BVB Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City in Dortmund, western Germany, on April 14, 2021.
WOLFGANG RATTAY/AFP via Getty Images

Manchester City is currently running away with the Premier League in England. This will be their fifth title in the last ten years. Man City easily won Group C, with five wins and one draw. In the round of 16, City quickly took down Mönchengladbach 4-0 on aggregate. In the quarter-final, they beat Borussia Dortmund 4-2 on aggregate. 

Man City has the deepest squad of the four remaining teams. They have multiple world-class defenders, midfielders, and forwards. İlkay Gündoğan leads the team with 16 goals, followed by Phil Foden with 14, and Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus with 13. Manager Pep Guardiola shuffles his starting lineup around a lot. That is because they have so many good players who need playing time. A team consisting of all their bench players would still be an excellent team. City also had an impressive 28-game unbeaten run earlier in the season.

Who Wins?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 30: The Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City club badges on their first team home shirts on March 30, 2021 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
Visionhaus/Getty Images

There will be no shortage of drama for this fixture. I call both these teams “Money F.C.” because they have so much money and seemingly buy whatever players they want. Both teams weren’t very successful ten years ago. Wealthy owners bought them, and now they’re two of the best in the world. 

Even though they both have had a ton of recent success domestically, neither has won a Champions League. To go down as an all-time great team, they need to win it. Both teams have had plenty of heartbreak. Both teams have everything they need to win the Champions League.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the Final. Whoever wins this tie will play Real Madrid. Both of these teams are better than Madrid. It is Manchester City’s time to win, and they will beat PSG. Although PSG might have a better one-two punch (Mbappé and Neymar), City has a more well-rounded team. 

The Final

DORTMUND, GERMANY - APRIL 14: Phil Foden of Manchester City celebrates with team mate Kyle Walker after scoring their side's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City at Signal Iduna Park on April 14, 2021 in Dortmund, Germany. Sporting stadiums around Germany remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.
Friedemann Vogel – Pool/Getty Images

Manchester City will play Real Madrid in the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final. In a highly competitive match, City will beat Madrid 2-1. Many Madrid players have experience playing in the Champions League Finals, but it won’t be enough. Raheem Sterling will score first and give City the lead within the first 40 minutes. Then, Casemiro will equalize for Real Madrid in first-half stoppage time. 1-1 at the break. 

In the second half, both teams will create many chances. They will be knocking on the door but won’t be able to find a breakthrough. Finally, in the 82nd minute, substitute Phil Foden will score the winning goal for Manchester City. City will win the Champions League, their first title in team history. They will finally go down as an all-time great team. 

I’m a Manchester United fan and would rather see anyone but Liverpool and City win it. But, going with my gut, I see City hoisting the trophy in Istanbul. 

Comment with your predictions! For more soccer news, visit Sideline Sources/Soccer. 

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