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Route to the Champions League final: Chelsea

Sports Mole takes a closer look at Chelsea's route to the 2021 Champions League final.

Chelsea will be looking to win the Champions League for just the second time in their history when they take on domestic rivals Manchester City in the final of the competition on Saturday evening.

The Blues, who last won the competition in 2011-12, have actually lost three of their last four matches, including a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City in the FA Cup final in the middle of May.

Thomas Tuchel's side also lost 2-1 to Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday, but Leicester's 4-2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on the same afternoon meant that the club still managed to sneak fourth spot in the table.

Despite some recent struggles, Tuchel has enjoyed a lot of positive moments since his arrival as head coach, and the German will now be looking to get one over on Man City boss Pep Guardiola in Porto this weekend.

Here, Sports Mole has taken a look at Chelsea's route to the Champions League final, starting with the group stages and ending with their semi-final success over the mighty Real Madrid.

Group stages (First in Group E)

Chelsea's Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring the winner against Rennes in the Champions League on November 24, 2020© Reuters

It would have been a monumental shock had Chelsea not managed to qualify from Group E, with Sevilla, Krasnodar and Rennes making up what was a kind section for the Blues, who ultimately topped the group.

The Premier League club posted four wins and two draws from six group-stage fixtures, scoring 14 times and conceding twice, to collect 14 points, which left them one point clear of second-placed Sevilla and nine clear of third-placed Krasnodar, with Rennes collecting just a single point from six fixtures.

Chelsea's Group E challenge started with a goalless draw at home to Sevilla, but they put an impressive three points on the board in their second match, as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic scored in a 4-0 victory away to Krasnodar.

A 3-0 home success over Rennes followed, with Werner coming up with a brace, while qualification for the knockout round was secured on November 24, as the Blues recorded a 2-1 victory away to Rennes, with Olivier Giroud's late header proving to be the difference between the two sides.

Giroud then scored all four goals in a 4-0 success away to Sevilla on December 2, with the result ensuring that Chelsea would secure first spot in Group E, meaning that they were under no pressure at home to Krasnodar on December 8.

As it transpired, the Blues struggled in their final group game against Krasnodar at Stamford Bridge, sharing the points in a 1-1 draw, but their work had already been completed, with a spot in the knockout round never really in doubt.

Round of 16 (vs. Atletico Madrid)

Atletico, who have recently been crowned as La Liga champions, had been tipped to do some damage against Chelsea in the round of 16, but it never quite happened for Diego Simeone's side, who were incredibly disappointing.

The first leg, which took place in Bucharest due to coronavirus restrictions, was decided by just the one goal, as Giroud's stunning overhead kick ensured that Chelsea would take a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their last-16 tie.

Atletico would have arrived at Stamford Bridge fully believing that they could turn the contest around, but Ziyech and Emerson Palmieri were on the scoresheet in a 2-0 home success, which made it a 3-0 aggregate victory for Tuchel's team, who never looked in any danger over the 180 minutes.

It was the first time that the Blues had made the quarter-finals in seven years and left the supporters dreaming of a special end to the campaign.

Quarter-finals (vs. Porto)

Chelsea's Ben Chilwell celebrates scoring against Porto on April 7, 2021© Reuters

Porto, who impressively dumped Juventus out of the competition in the round of 16, were Chelsea's opponents in the quarter-finals, but a poor performance in the first leg ultimately cost the Portuguese outfit, with Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell on the scoresheet in a 2-0 success for Tuchel's side.

Mehdi Taremi scored a stunning overhead kick in the latter stages of the second leg in Seville to cut the score to 2-1 on aggregate, but that was how it finished, with the London club making the semi-finals for the first time since 2014.

Chelsea certainly played within themselves in the 'home' second leg, but Porto rarely tested goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, and Tuchel's side were now waiting to see whether it would be Real Madrid or Liverpool in the semi-finals.

Semi-finals (vs. Real Madrid)

As expected, the first leg of the semi-final in the Spanish capital was a close affair; Chelsea took the lead in the 14th minute through Pulisic, before Karim Benzema levelled the scores in the 29th minute.

The Blues certainly had the better of the second half at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium but could not score a vital second, with the tie delicately poised ahead of the reverse fixture in London.

In truth, though, it turned out to be a comfortable 90 minutes for Tuchel's side at Stamford Bridge. Indeed, Werner scored in the 28th minute to send the hosts ahead, before Mount made sure of the victory late on, as Chelsea advanced to their first Champions League final since 2012.

Sergio Ramos overcame an injury to start for Real Madrid, but it was an uninspiring performance from Zinedine Zidane's side, with Benzema lacking support in the final third of the field, and the fact that Eden Hazard was pictured joking with his former teammates at the end of the match summed up the Spanish outfit's performance.

Tuchel also led PSG to last season's Champions League final, meaning that he is the first manager to reach the European Cup final in successive seasons with different clubs, and the 47-year-old will be determined to go one better on Saturday night.

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