Former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole believes the weight of expectation will be a tough burden for Manchester City to carry in Saturday’s Champions League final, as he backed his former club to prevail in Porto.
Pep Guardiola‘s Premier League champions head into the club’s first Champions League final as strong favourites, even though they have been beaten twice by Chelsea in recent weeks. Indeed, the Blues progressed to the FA Cup final at City’s expense before postponing their Premier League title celebrations with victory in May.
And former Chelsea man Cole suggests City‘s desperation to win Europe’s biggest prize for the first time is an added pressure that could undermine their ambitions.
“For me, all the pressure is on Manchester City,” declared Cole at a BT Sport event.
“We can see they are the better side over the course of 38 games, but they have been trying to win this trophy for so long and now they have to do it.
“For Chelsea, psychologically, they are a young team and they are almost happy to be there. It wasn’t expected this season, but they have to go out there and believe they can win it.
“The last two years after the transfer ban, the club have hit the reset button and you can see that with the amount of young players we have developed.
“I don’t think the club would have expected to be in a Champions League final this soon, but they are here at the top table of European football. They are up against a side they have already beaten twice, so that takes the fear element out of it and this is a free hit for this team.”
Cole was a starter for Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final against Manchester United, when John Terry’s miss in the penalty shoot-out denied the club what would have been a first victory in the competition.
As he reflects on that famous night in the Moscow rain, he says the importance of the fixture makes it tough to embrace the occasion.
Cole reflects on Chelsea defeat
“That game was so intense,” he says. “We were playing against our big rivals who we had gone back and forth with over the previous few years, so it was very difficult to enjoy the occasion.
“It’s a privilege to play in that type of game. It’s the absolute pinnacle, but it wasn’t an enjoyable experience, to say the least.
“That Man Utd side that beat us, the only consolation for me is it was the width of a post that denied is and they were probably the best Premier League side I played against.”
BT Sport will show Manchester City vs Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League final live from 6pm on Saturday 29 May. Whoever you watch the final with, watch it together with BT. For more info go to btsport.com/final
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