Thomas Tuchel and Brendan Rodgers will be fighting for their first cup triumph in England when the they meet this afternoon at Wembley in the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester City.
Tuchel has won cups with Borrusia Dortmund in Germany and PSG in France. Similarly, Rodgers won seven major trophies with Celtic in Scotland. Both coaches can draw on that experience to win today.
At least 21 000 fans will be allowed in the stadium upon production of Covid-19 test certificates. It will make the atmosphere livelier than it has been in the other matches.
The two clubs also share some players so their meeting brings memories and emotional reunions. Those that have served both clubs include Robert Huth, Danny Drinkwater, NgoloKante, Benjamin Chilwell, Frank Sinclaire, Dennis Wise, Mark Schwartz and gaffer Claudio Ranieri.
Now we must address the question of who will win this match. A very tough question because the two clubs are only separated by two points on the log table. Leicester are third on 66 points while Chelsea are fourth on 64 points.
However, although Chelsea are two points behind, pundits have placed the Blues as slight favourites for obvious reasons. Since Tuchel arrived Chelsea have improved tremendously. They have recorded 18 clean sheets in 24 matches.
They are in the Champions League final after beating Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and FC Porto. To get to the FA Cup final, Chelsea beat Morecambe, Luton Town, Barnsley, Sheffield United and Manchester City.
Chelsea now have more attacking impetus than Leicester. Their attacking players in Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Kai Haverts, Timo Werner, Hudson Odoi and Hakim Ziyech are fast and decisive. Leicester need their defence to be at optimum to stop Chelsea’s youthful attacking threat. Chelsea lost last season’s FA Cup final to Arsenal. They will be out to make amends this afternoon.
On the other hand, Leicester should not be underrated. Since Rodgers arrived, they have competed at high level breaking into the big six coterie for the last few seasons. To be in the finals they have also had to overcome tough competition, including Europa Cup finalist Manchester United. Before meeting United, Leicester beat Stoke City, Brentford, Brighton and Southampton. No fluke!
Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho has been a revelation at Leicester in the second half of the season scoring 13 goals in 12 marches so far. He has formed a strong partnership with Jamie Vardy. Chelsea should be worried about the Nigerian marksman. Leicester also need their defence linchpin Jonny Evans to be in prime condition to contain Chelsea’s high flying strikers.
This match is also a dress rehearsal for another very important meeting between the two teams that will take place on Tuesday. This match will decide the fate of the two clubs’ Champions League status. On Tuesday night, the winner will consolidate Champions League position in the top four, but the loser is likely to be leapfrogged by chasers such as Liverpool and West Ham. n