Does Chelsea have the edge over Champions League final opponent Manchester City?

Match statistics: Manchester City 1-2 Chelsea

In terms of the bigger picture, there is nothing more important for Chelsea in the final weeks of the season than securing a top-four finish.

Ensuring the club will be in the Champions League next season was a must for Thomas Tuchel when he took the job in January, and after victory over Manchester City on Saturday, the Blues find themselves sitting third with three games to play.

And yet, the narrative around the last-gasp win at the Etihad Stadium will be framed around one thing: what it means for the upcoming Champions League final meeting between these two sides.

This was meant to be the day that City sealed the Premier League title, and after Raheem Sterling had opened the scoring late in the first half it seemed like the fans who had gathered outside the stadium would have something to cheer at full time.

Instead, it was Marcos Alonso’s scuffed finish two minutes into second-half stoppage time that decided the game, leaving City’s champagne on ice while sowing more seeds of doubt over whether it can take down Chelsea in Istanbul on May 29.

Of course, Pep Guardiola will not play the same lineup in Turkey as he did here. The Catalan made nine changes from the side that beat Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, with only Ederson and Ruben Dias keeping their places.

That said, Chelsea has now beaten City twice in a matter of weeks. Time will tell just how much of a psychological impact that will have on both Guardiola and his players come the end of the month.

In that first game — the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium — it was Chelsea’s impregnable defense that led it to a much-deserved 1-0 win.

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Here, though, the Blues found themselves in the unusual position of chasing a game after falling behind to Sterling’s strike, and they really should have been 2-0 down at half time, only for Sergio Aguero’s fluffed attempt at a Panenka penalty to land in the arms of Edouard Mendy.

Given how strong it has been defensively since Tuchel took the reins, Chelsea has generally led from the front under the German coach, and though it too was without key players, the fact that the Blues turned this game around will give them huge confidence for both the remainder of the domestic campaign and their next meeting with City.

Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva were all missing from the squad following Wednesday’s win over Real Madrid, but others stepped up in their place.

Like at Wembley, Hakim Ziyech got himself on the scoresheet, this time with a long-range drive to equalize, before Alonso’s late intervention.

On the opposite flank from the Spain international, Reece James ran City ragged in the second half, while Billy Gilmour was rewarded with a huge hug from his manager at full time after a mature display from the 19-year-old midfielder in a rare start.

Timo Werner, too, troubled the City back line with his pace and willingness to run in behind, even if he does need to work on remaining onside as he saw two more goals chalked off via an assistant referee’s flag.

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Tuchel had a terrible record against Guardiola when the pair were in opposing dugouts across the Klassiker divide in Germany, but now the former has the tools within his squad to compete with the one-time Bayern Munich boss.

Certainly, it is these two teams that, on paper, have the deepest squads in the Premier League, and that Chelsea has now come out on top twice against City suggests the title race will be much closer next term.

That, though, is for the future. Right now, Chelsea remains focused on closing out the Premier League season strongly, as well as next week’s FA Cup final meeting with Leicester City.

Soon though, it will join the rest of the footballing world in turning its attention toward the showpiece event of the European season, and its third meeting with City since the start of April.

Only three months ago, Chelsea would have been a huge underdog when facing City.

Now, after two wins from two games, its potential to become Guardiola’s kryptonite is suddenly very real.

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