In yet another all-English Champions League final at the Porto’s Estádio do Dragão, both Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel will be aiming to claim a slice of history for themselves. While Manchester City‘s Guardiola will be aiming to become the only other manager other than Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti, and Bob Paisley to win three European Cups as a coach, Tuchel will become the first coach to make it to the showpiece event in European club football in successive seasons with different clubs.
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And while we wait for the epic clash to get underway, let’s take a look at some of the young players who made an impact in the Champions League:
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Phil Foden will be playing in the Champions League final against Chelsea just a day after his 21st birthday. Having achieved seven major trophies in four seasons already, the young winger from City will aim to add one more trophy to his already-shining cabinet.
Foden, an unmissable addition to the national football team of England, started as a midfielder for City, however, he was soon pushed to the winger position as it is better suited to Pep Guardiola’s style.
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In the Champions League season, he has an accuracy of 84%. In a total of 12 matches that he has played he scored 3 goals, two of which came against Borussia Dortmund.
With the UCL in his sight, he would, once again, like to make a strong impact and guide his team to victory with an all-around performance.
Mason Mount (Chelsea)
“I’m not leaving Chelsea, it’s my club. I’ve been here since the age of six and I’m going all the way,” Mason Mount had said. And he is proving every word of it. From debuting in the Chelsea side to being called the teacher’s pet (when Frank Lampard was the manager) to scoring the important goal of his UCL career against Real Madrid, the young English prodigy has come a long way.
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When Lampard was coach, he was a regular in the playing XI, however, after a change of reins, he did find it a bit difficult to appear in the starting XI. However, after Thomas Tuchel understood the charisma that he holds, the 22-year-old did find himself in the playing XI.
His most memorable performance in the UCL 2020-2021 season would be the semis against Real Madrid. In a total of 10 matches in the UCL, the English midfielder has two goals to his name, a pass accuracy of 84% and a single assist to his name.
Having carried Chelsea to the final of the UCL, he would seek to complete the job and lift Europe’s premiere title.
Erling Halaand (Borussia Dortmund)
In the words of Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui, Norwegian Erling Haaland “will define a new era in football.” Being touted as Mr Champions League, Haaland has been Borussia Dortmund‘s goal-scoring machine.
Brace after brace, Haaland quickly rose through the ranks and proved himself to be one of the most sought-after players in the footballing fraternity.
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Why goal-scorer machine you ask? He became the fastest to score 20 UEFA Champions League, in just 14 games. He reached the milestone in ten matches fewer than the next player on the list, i.e. Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane. He is also the first to reach the landmark figure before his 21st birthday.
He is also the youngest to reach 20 UEFA UCL goals. In 2019 he scored 8 goals, in 2020 he scored 8 and four goals in 2021.
Out of the 20, he scored 8 for Red Bull Salzburg and 12 for Dortmund.
Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)
The 20-year-old from Brazil came of age when he scored a brace against Liverpool in the first leg of their quarterfinal clash. Once considered a liability by Real Madrid, Vinicius, slowly but steadily, cemented his place in the side on the back of some bright performances.
After breaking the deadlock against Liverpool by putting one past Allison Becker, Vinicius was simply unstoppable. He not only scored the winner for his team but also set up Luka Modric for a goal.
According to critics, this performance of his was his most important brace since his El Clasico strike more than a year ago. In the UCL, he scored three goals and boasts a passing accuracy of 81%.