Football

Champions League finalists eyeing possible Leo Messi moment

Earlier this month, UEFA indefinitely suspended the Champions League, Europa League and the European Championship playoffs amid the ongoing concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The final of the Champions League regularly produces iconic moments – some good, some bad – but all of them still truly memorable.

For instance, Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty in extra-time of the 2013/14 final crowned Real Madrid’s pursuit of their tenth Champions League title.

The victory was made even sweeter as it came against city rivals Atletico Madrid, and cemented Ronaldo’s status as a world-class star.

Manchester City and Chelsea players will undoubtedly be hoping that they have an opportunity to follow in Ronaldo’s footsteps this weekend.

City head into the game as favourites, with Betway having them odds-on favourites to win the match at 10/11, having already won the Premier League title and Carabao Cup during the current campaign.

Chelsea are surprise finalists, with manager Thomas Tuchel sparking a revival in their fortunes since replacing Frank Lampard as manager in January.

While Tuchel will fancy his chances of guiding the Blues to victory, his team will not find things easy against their hugely talented opponents.

City manager Pep Guardiola knows what it takes to win the Champions League, having led Barcelona to the title in 2008/09 and 2010/11.

The first of those two successes highlight the earlier point regarding iconic moments, with Barca’s victory over Manchester United delivering something truly special.

Lionel Messi was unsurprisingly at the heart of things, although not in the way that many fans would have predicted before the game.

There is no question that Messi is a supremely talented footballer, but it is fair to say that he isn’t noted for scoring goals with his head.

However, his towering leap against United put the game beyond their reach and sparked a celebration that has been replayed thousands of times since.

Betway pinpointed Messi’s boot-kissing celebration as one of the most memorable moments in Champions League history, and it is impossible to argue with their assessment.

It was also a magical event for adidas, with Messi’s F50i boots flying off the shelves in sports stores across the world after the final.

While all of the leading manufacturers will be hoping for similar exposure this weekend, it is difficult to predict who may replicate Messi’s magic.

Chelsea have plenty of attacking talent at their disposal, although most of them have struggled for consistency during the current campaign.

One player who has maintained a high level is Mason Mount, and the midfielder would love nothing more than to follow Messi’s lead in Portugal.

The 22-year-old scored goals in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals, and is perhaps Chelsea’s best hope of getting on the scoresheet against City.

Although the Blues have beaten City in their last two meetings, it would be a shock if they were able to repeat the trick in a Champions League final.

They possess plenty of players who are capable of special moments, with Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Sergio Aguero immediately springing to mind.

Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus are others who could trouble Chelsea’s defence, but a City victory may well come from an unlikely source.

Ruben Dias has been exceptional since joining City from Benfica, helping to shore up what was become a fairly fragile defence.

However, he hasn’t made much impact at the other end of the pitch, with his goal against West Ham United in December the only time he has troubled the scorers.

Despite his meagre goal tally, the 24-year-old is a threat in the air and could be a good bet to emulate Messi by heading home a crucial goal.

Hopefully he would have the presence of mind to give Nike a boost by waving his striking Phantom GT Elite boots in the air!

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