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Combined XI: Manchester City vs. Chelsea

Ahead of Saturday's Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads.

The highly-anticipated all-English Champions League final takes place at the Estadio do Dragao on Saturday night, as Manchester City and Chelsea renew hostilities on unfamiliar soil.

Pep Guardiola has finally broken the quarter-final curse and is aiming to win the competition for the first time as Man City manager, with his side easing past Paris Saint-Germain 4-1 on aggregate to make the final.

Meanwhile, Thomas Tuchel has taken under six months to steer Chelsea back into the showpiece event for the first time since 2012, as Real Madrid were no match for the dogged Blues in the semi-finals.

The two sides head into the final off the back of contrasting Premier League fortunes, though, as City rounded off their title-winning campaign with a 5-0 success against Everton while Chelsea lost 2-1 at Aston Villa, but remained in the top four.

With an array of spectacular and expensive talents on show at these two financial powerhouses, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads, using only players expected to be available for the showdown.

Combined XI: MNC vs. CHE

With a staggering 35 Premier League clean sheets between them in the 2020-21 campaign, Ederson and Edouard Mendy have been very welcome additions to English football and continue to play their part in their sides' remarkable European defensive record too. The latter is expected to be fit for the final despite an injury scare against Villa, but with 19 clean sheets compared to Mendy's 16 in the Premier League season, Ederson is our pick.

Both Man City and Chelsea have conceded just four times en route to Porto, so it is only fair that there is equal representation from both sides in our four-man defence. Kyle Walker will hope to get the nod on the right over Joao Cancelo for the final, but the Portuguese's versatility, marked improvement and eight goal contributions this season sees him edge out Walker, Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James on the right. On the other side, Oleksandr Zinchenko has also thrived in recent Champions League matches, but Ben Chilwell - who has four goals and seven assists this term - was a comfortable pick.

Having been crowned the Football Writers' Player of the Year and a strong favourite for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award, Ruben Dias was one of the first names in this team. It is hard to believe that the former Benfica man is still just 24 years of age, as his performance against Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of their semi-final was warrior-like. Dias's partnership with John Stones will continue to thrive next season, but the Englishman misses out here to experience in Thiago Silva. Some feared that Silva's qualities would soon decline at the age of 36, but the Brazilian has been a key component of Tuchel's resilient rearguard and is now set to become just the fifth player ever to play in back-to-back Champions League finals with different teams.

Rodri's place in the Man City midfield this weekend is far from guaranteed after Fernandinho's showing against PSG, but the two Sky Blue representatives both miss out here either way. Assuming that he can shake off a troublesome thigh problem in time, N'Golo Kante will be tasked with running the show just like he did against Real Madrid, and with the Frenchman making the top 10 for interceptions per game in the 2020-21 Premier League season, he was a simple pick.

The top scorer for the Premier League champions cannot be left out of the squad, but even Ilkay Gundogan must be somewhat surprised that his name is number one on that list. The midfielder's contributions have slowed down in recent months, but with 17 goals and five assists in all competitions, he has had the season of his life. Gundogan's goals largely came in the spell where Kevin De Bruyne was sidelined, but the Belgian playmaker is fit and hoping to show his former club what they are missing once again. As evidenced by three goals and one assist in the last five meetings between the clubs, De Bruyne has grown to relish fixtures with Chelsea, and he keeps current Blues midfielders Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho and Mason Mount out of the lineup.

Having single-handedly propelled Man City to the final with two inspiring displays against PSG, Riyad Mahrez was the obvious choice for the right flank. The Algerian struck three of City's four goals over two legs against Les Parisiens and has totalled 23 goal contributions in 47 games this season, so Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic were never going to challenge for a spot. On the left-hand side is Guardiola's starboy and the club's second-highest goalscorer this season - Phil Foden - who was City's hero of the hour against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals and has found the back of the net 16 times this season. In addition, a tally of 10 assists certainly has City and England fans looking ahead to the future with unbridled optimism.

Olivier Giroud's six Champions League goals has not been enough to prevent him losing his spot in Tuchel's lineup, while Tammy Abraham's future surely lies away from Stamford Bridge after a torrid 2021. Neither Kai Havertz nor Timo Werner have flourished to maximum effect either, while Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero cannot look back too fondly on their seasons with City. However, the latter - reportedly on the verge of a move to Barcelona - would love nothing more than to end his glittering City stint with a 16th goal for the club against Chelsea, and despite making headlines for all the wrong reasons with his fluffed Panenka the last time these sides met, Aguero leads our line before he takes to the pitch for the final time in sky blue.

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Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech celebrates scoring against Manchester City in the Premier League on May 8, 2021
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