Champions League final betting: Best plays for Chelsea vs. Manchester City

·4 min read

Soccer finals are volatile. They're high-stakes. Constants are hard to come by.

One of the few is Pep Guardiola, and in betting Saturday's Champions League final in Porto between Manchester City and Chelsea, that's as good a place as any to start.

Manchester City to win (-250 with BetMGM)

Guardiola is a staggering 14-1 in his managerial career in cup finals, including a 5-0 mark with Manchester City. Granted, those prior City triumphs came in domestic cups and not the Champions League. But Guardiola has won the competition twice before, and he hasn't lost a cup final in over a decade. When he gets to a winner-take-all scenario, he takes all.

Moreover, while Chelsea has beaten City in two of their three meetings this season, their Premier League match on January 3 is the closest approximation to the striker-less City lineup we're likely to see on Saturday, and City wiped the floor with Chelsea. It's tricky to attach too much significance to City's defeats as well, since their loss in the FA Cup semifinals was their fifth game in 15 days at that point in the calendar, and the other loss came with Chelsea desperate for a win and City's league title all but mathematically assured.

City is probably going to win, and the result is priced as such. If you're hesitant about backing a team but want similarly strong odds, the game being decided in regular time is -350. Nine of the last 12 Champions League finals have been decided without extra time, including the past four.

Over 2.5 goals (+115 with BetMGM)

Christian Pulisic (right) and Chelsea will try to upset Manchester City in Saturday's Champions League final. (Photo by Andy Rain - Pool/Getty Images)
Christian Pulisic (right) and Chelsea will try to upset Manchester City in Saturday's Champions League final. (Photo by Andy Rain - Pool/Getty Images)

Champions League finals tend to be cagey affairs, and that's reflected in the odds. But the Champions League final has never seen Manchester City (literally).

City has scored multiple goals a staggering 29 times already this calendar year, and if they don't bag three themselves, Chelsea's adventurousness ought to help. Manager Thomas Tuchel primarily plays with three defenders, choosing instead to throw numbers into the attack, and he's promised a "positive" approach heading into Saturday's final.

It may take awhile for the first goal to come, but once it does, two more isn't too much to ask.

Christian Pulisic to score in both halves (+3300 with BetMGM

Not feeling a City win? Lean into your national pride. 

No matter what, an American is going to win the Champions League on Saturday. One is more likely to play than the other, and while Christian Pulisic has struggled with injuries at Chelsea, he's healthy now and has starred in big moments. 

He scored in the first Champions League semifinal leg against Real Madrid, and his assist in the second helped punch Chelsea's ticket to the final. He also scored a critical goal against Manchester City last summer, and while we're 11 months removed from that moment, it very much represents the kind of counterattacking brilliance Chelsea will likely require to score on City.

The odds of Pulisic scoring in both halves are long, but that's where the big payout lies. If you're backing Chelsea, a safer play would be Hakim Ziyech to outscore City at +1300. He's scored a goal in each of the last two games against City, and if Chelsea wins, a shutout thanks to its much-improved defense is arguably the most direct path.

Then again, Ziyech's record is exactly why City could be extra mindful of him. Your call.

Riyad Mahrez to score more goals than Timo Werner (+310 with BetMGM)

Timo Werner has a reputation for missing chances. But this is more about Mahrez.

The winger has been arguably City's best player this spring, and he's scored in each of his last three Champions League games. He's creative and strong on the ball, and also a tricky matchup since he plays on the right side but is left-footed. 

If Chelsea chooses to sit back, Mahrez can help unlock them with his skill, and if they frequently foray forward, he can prey upon the space left behind.

And don't forget: You only need him to score one more goal than Werner. Just hope that Werner doesn't pick Saturday to change his narrative.

Kevin de Bruyne to score from outside the box (+650 with BetMGM)

This might be the most tempting of all bets. De Bruyne is a masterclass free kick taker, and City scored 17 times on set pieces in the Premier League this season, while Chelsea conceded 14 times. So if the game is more open and City is fouled in an advantageous position, expect de Bruyne to get a couple good looks.

All eight goals between the two teams this season have come from inside the box, so that's why this is priced to the nines. But this would be solid value even in the neighborhood of 3-to-1. At +650, take that chance all day.

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