Corner Picks: UEFA 2021 Champions League final odds, picks, best bets, props, for Manchester City vs. Chelsea

I look forward to the Champions League Final with intense anticipation in most years, but I don’t have that same kind of feeling this season. It’s not that I’m not excited to watch the match or that I’m not looking forward to it. No, it’s just that I’m not ready for this season to end, and in a lot of ways, that’s what the Champions League Final symbolizes.

It’s the end of the season, and in a year like this one, it’s a bit different. After COVID-19 paused the 2019-20 season, play resumed in May of 2020, and we’ve basically had non-stop league play in Europe ever since. It’s probably been awful for the players and management, but as a fan, it’s been fantastic.

Of course, another reason my enthusiasm for this final between Manchester City and Chelsea is slightly dampened is that it’s the third time these clubs have played since April 17 when they met in an FA Cup semifinal. They met again three weeks ago in a Premier League match.

Part of the appeal of a Champions League Final is seeing two of the best teams in the world meeting to declare global supremacy. Some of that is lost when two teams from the same league play for the fourth time in the last five months. That said, it’s still two of the best teams in the world, and it should be a sensational match. It’s also another chance to make some money, so let’s do that. All odds are via the William Hill sportsbook.

Manchester City vs. Chelsea, Sat. 3 p.m. (CBS/Paramount+)

Game Line: Manchester City -114, Draw +240, Chelsea +340

Picking the favorite isnt the most exciting pick, nor the most original, but it’s the right pick. As mentioned above, this will be the third time these clubs have met since early April, but while Chelsea won both of those matches, I’m not sure how much — if anything — we should take away from them.

In the FA Cup semifinal, a 1-0 Chelsea victory, both teams started their backup goalkeepers, but most of Chelsea’s starting lineup was filled with regular starters. The same cannot be said of City, who had Kevin De Bruyne play a half and replaced him with Phil Foden in the second half. Ilkay Gündogan didn’t come on until the 65th minute. Defenders like Kyle Walker, John Stones and Oleksandr Zinchenko didn’t play at all. Chelsea still wasn’t assured of a top-four finish in the 2-1 Chelsea win at the Etihad, while City had the Premier League wrapped up. Chelsea treated the match like one it had to win. Pep Guardiola treated it like a match his team had to play, but not one in which he wanted to give Thomas Tuchel anything to use for the Champions League Final.

Also, while Chelsea won that match 2-1, even with Man City utilizing an atypical lineup, City still managed to outscore Chelsea 2.2-0.8 on the old expected goals (xG) scoreboard.

For the final, we’re going to see Man City at full power, with nothing else to worry about. When at total capacity, there isn’t a better team in the world, and that’s been the case all season long. I’ve pegged Man City to win this tournament from the jump, and nothing that’s happened over the last few months has changed my mind.

Pick: Manchester City (-114)

Over/Under 2.5 goals

While I believe City is the better team, I have to give credit where it’s due. Thomas Tuchel has done a tremendous job improving Chelsea’s defending since taking over for Frank Lampard, and regardless of the lineup City has played against his team, he’s organized his defense in a way to keep City from getting great chances.

Considering City’s expertise in attack is being able to keep the ball until a great chance arrives, Chelsea’s ability to impede that should not be discounted. That’s why I think that even though City win this match, it will be low-scoring and tense.

I do worry about this if Man City scores early, though. If that happens, Chelsea could feel pressured to open things up a bit more, leaving them vulnerable at the back and allowing City more of those great chances they always find.

Pick: Under 2.5 (-150)

Manchester City vs. Chelsea best prop bet

Total Match Cards: 4-6 (+105)

See, now this is the truly degenerate stuff you came here for. I’ve got you betting on the number of cards that will be shown!

The official for this match is Antonio Mateu Lahoz. Most of his work is done in Spain’s La Liga, but he has officiated five Champions League matches this season. He’s handed out an average of five yellow cards per match with no reds. In his 18 La Liga matches, Lahoz has given out an average of 4.61 yellows and 0.17 reds (4.78 total cards) per match. If we look at his performance over 26 matches this season in all competitions, Lahoz has averaged a total of 4.77 cards shown per match.

For context, the average Premier League match — where City and Chelsea call home — features 3.01 cards per match. English officials are known for being more lenient and allowing a more physical style of play than other leagues. Given the familiarity between these teams and players, I expect things to be physical, and Lahoz is not shy about handing out cards when things get physical.

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