Former Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott believes Pep Guardiola’s experience in the Champions League could prove to be the difference between his former side and Chelsea in Saturday’s final.
City go into this weekend’s clash as favourites, having finished 19 points ahead of the Blues in this season’s Premier League.
That being said, Chelsea have had the better of the two sides’ meetings this season – winning two of their three clashes, including the FA Cup semi-final – though Lescott believes Guardiola’s experience along with the togetherness of the City squad will see them across the line.
“If there’s a manager you would select to be in charge of this side it’s Pep Guardiola,” BT Sport pundit Lescott told 90min. “He’s been there before and has a level of ease and calmness and I’m sure that reflects onto the players.
“This group of players have been assembled for a few years now, they understand each other and there’s a bond there that’s stronger than Chelsea’s.”
Only a few months ago there was talk of City completing the quadruple, yet defeat to Chelsea on Saturday would see them finish with just two (just?) trophies. Lescott doesn’t believe City should be disheartened if they are beaten on Saturday and says reaching the final in itself represents progress.
“You can’t really say it’s a missed opportunity,” he said. “If they don’t win, the biggest compliment you can give is at the start of next season they’ll still be favourites so it is a progression, but they don’t need to win it this year.”
This weekend’s final represents the last possible chance for Sergio Aguero to play for City before his move to Barcelona, but Lescott doesn’t believe the Argentinian will be named in Guardiola’s starting XI.
“I don’t think he starts but I do see him coming on,” he added. “No-one’s ever questioned Sergio’s ability to score goals he’s just experienced some issues which is probably why he’s not extended his contract,” he said. “I don’t think any player – no matter what City achieve – will have an impact like Sergio.”
Aguero’s departure leaves City looking very light in the forward department and Lescott believes – despite Guardiola’s claims that City may not buy a frontman this summer – they need to replace the outgoing Argentina international.
“The false nine is great at the moment because it’s new but as time goes on you do need a striker,” he added. “There’s instincts strikers have that others wouldn’t recognise.
“I do believe Ferran Torres is up there in terms of his mindset wanting to score goals, but when I played with Sergio there were games where all he thought about was scoring – he didn’t care about the score. We had to do our job and if we did that he would score.”
BT Sport will show Manchester City vs Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League final live from 6:00pm on Saturday 29th May. Whoever you watch the final with, watch it together with BT.
For more info go to btsport.com/final.