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Chelsea vs. Manchester City betting odds, picks, predictions for 2021 Champions League final

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Chelsea vs. Manchester City odds, picks, predictions for 2021 Champions League final

The 2021 Champions League final is fascinating on so many levels: two English heavyweights, two of the most expensive squads on the planet, Manchester City’s quest for its first-ever Champions League, two elite managers going head to head, Chelsea’s two recent wins against Man City and, of course, the best-ever American player on the biggest club stage in the world.

The books are giving the clear edge to Manchester City (anywhere from -114 to win in regulation and -240 to win the cup). They are, after all, the reigning English Premier League champions and considered by many to be the best team in the world today. After their poor start to the season and their recent stumbles, Chelsea simply don’t have the same standing. But that’s not to say this won’t be a tightly contested final.

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Chelsea vs. Manchester City odds for 2021 Champions League final

A familiar cliche emerges ahead of single-game finals in soccer: Expect to see cautious teams, airtight defenses and few scoring opportunities. But there is reason to believe this could actually be the case on Saturday.

Manchester City and Chelsea conceded the fewest goals of any teams in the English Premier League: 32 (xGA 31.3) and 36 goals (xGA 32.8), respectively. Credit the world-class defenders and goalkeepers on each side, and the tactical structure that both managers have devised to get the best out of them.

And at least for one of the finalists, scoring doesn’t always come easy. Chelsea have had their share of struggles manufacturing goals when they’ve needed them. Timo Werner (10 goals vs. 18.1 expected goals per FBref), last summer’s high profile forward signing, has had to shoulder plenty of the criticism, although quality service hasn’t always been there.

And it might pay to remember that the two other occasions we’ve had an all-English final, they were also low-scoring affairs: Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 in 2019, but that second goal came in minute 87. In 2008, Manchester United needed penalty kicks to beat Chelsea after a 1-1 draw in regulation.

MORE: Your 2021 Champions League cheat sheet

Here are some odds to play the low-scoring trend:

Odds courtesy of DraftKings and based on 90-minute regulation result

Total Goals

  • Man City-Chelsea total goals Under 1.5: +175
  • Man City-Chelsea total goals Under 2.5: -175

Correct Score

  • Man City 0, Chelsea 1: +850
  • Man City 1, Chelsea 0: +480

Team Goals

  • Man City Under 0.5 goals scored: +295
  • Chelsea Under 0.5 goals scored: +120

Win to Nil (i.e. via shutout)

  • Chelsea to win to nil: +575
  • Man City to win to nil: N/A

Getty Images

Chelsea or Man City: Who scores first?

If you buy into the low-scoring thesis and couple that with the records of both teams when they score first, then an obvious betting angle emerges.

When Chelsea have scored first this season in all competitions, they have 17 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss. Manchester City have won 41 of the 45 games in which they score first. Safe to say, as is the case in most finals, the first goal is going to be huge. Here’s how teams have fared when they have taken the lead over the last 20 Champions League finals:

  • Wins: 12
  • Draws: 5 (all decided by penalty kick shootouts)
  • Losses: 2 (Atletico Madrid in 2014 and Arsenal in 2006)

At time of publication you can still get plus money on both teams scoring first and winning. If you believe in the trend, it’s possible to play both sides and make out on top.

To score first and win:

  • Chelsea: +390
  • Manchester City: +108

MORE: Why Pulisic in the Champions League final is a big deal

Champions League final prop bets: Offsides & Timo Werner

Werner’s penchant for being caught offside or having a goal annulled for being offside has become a sort of running joke during Chelsea matches. But his manager and German compatriot, Thomas Tuchel, is not bothered by it: He loves that Werner (photo below) presses, harries and stretches opposing defenses. The speedy forward is constantly riding that defensive line in the hope of being sprung into the open field. That’s his game.

So it’s no surprise that Chelsea committed the second highest total of offside infractions in the most recent 38-game Premier League season (80 times caught offside). Werner was responsible for 26 of those instances, good for the 4th highest total of any player.

In a game where Chelsea is likely to cede control to Manchester City and look to transition quickly into the open field via Werner and Christian Pulisic, we might see the offside flag come up a few times. (Note: Werner was caught offside against Man City twice in their FA Cup semifinal and three times in the most recent league match.)

Offside Odds

  • Timo Werner over 1.5 offside infringements: +140
  • Chelsea team offsides total over 2.5 (including extra time): +100

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Getty Images

Chelsea vs. Manchester City prediction

Some of Chelsea’s best performances this season have come when they’re not the ones having to “make” the game or break down the opposition. They can let the game come to them against Manchester City and pick their moments to inflict damage in transition.

Manchester City are the best team in the world today and they’re playing the best soccer. A first Champions League trophy would be a just reward. But in a 90-minute final they’ll need the key bounces to go their way and that’s never guaranteed.

Spreading money on both sides of the “score first and win” remains my favorite play. I’d also roll the dice on a Chelsea double chance (Chelsea win and draw in regulation) at -109.

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Chris Paul, NBA Twitter react to Deandre Ayton’s game-winning dunk in Suns vs. Clippers

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Chris Paul, NBA Twitter react to Deandre Ayton's game-winning dunk in Suns vs. Clippers

Deandre Ayton was the hero for the Suns in their Game 2 win over the Clippers.

With less than a second left on the clock, the Suns were down one point and had just 0.9 seconds to get a shot off. Jae Crowder inbounded the ball on the baseline under the Suns’ basket and found Ayton cutting to the hoop.

Ayton threw it down. The play took just 0.2 seconds off the clock and sealed the 104-103 win for the Suns.

Here’s a look at the amazing finish.

Ayton and Crowder deserve a bulk of the credit, but Devin Booker had an impact on the finish as well. His physical screen on Ivica Zubac — who is seven inches taller and 35 pounds heavier than Booker — gave Ayton just enough space to get open off the cut and throw down the dunk.

And Booker put his body on the line despite playing with a bloodied nose that required stitches after an inadvertent hit from Patrick Beverley earlier in the game.

The Suns’ finish thrilled Phoenix fans as well as the team’s star point guard Chris Paul, who missed his second straight game in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. He took time to celebrate the victory on Twitter and praised coach Monty Williams for his “big-time play call.”

Indeed, it was a nice play call, and Williams made sure Ayton was prepared to dunk immediately after catching the ball.

“DA — if he throws it, you gotta try to dunk it,” Williams said. “Okay?”

Ayton was ready and obliged. As a result of his make, NBA Twitter erupted and celebrated the exciting end to yet another tightly-contested playoff battle. 

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How Suns perfectly executed game-winning play — and why goaltending didn’t apply on Deandre Ayton’s dunk

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How Suns perfectly executed game-winning play — and why goaltending didn't apply on Deandre Ayton's dunk

Back in December 2017, the Suns and Grizzlies found themselves in a down-to-the-wire contest. Phoenix had the ball with just 0.6 seconds on the clock and the game tied at 97.

So what did then-Suns coach Jay Triano do? He unveiled a play that he had kept in his back pocket for years.

MORE: Chris Paul reacts to Deandre Ayton’s game-winning dunk

While standing on the sideline near the Grizzlies’ bench, Dragan Bender threw a pass toward Tyson Chandler that floated directly above the rim, giving Chandler the opportunity to slam it through the bottom of the net. Wait, you can do that?

“You cannot goaltend a ball that isn’t going to count,” Triano told reporters after the game.

More than three years later, Triano’s words were once again ringing throughout Phoenix Suns Arena. Coach Monty Williams drew up a similar play on Tuesday night, and his players executed it perfectly to give the Suns a stunning 104-103 win over the Clippers and a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals.

Look at this beauty:

OK, let’s break down what NBA TV’s Matt Winer called “The Valley Oop.” (Great work, Matt).

First, notice the positioning of DeMarcus Cousins. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue made a smart move by putting Cousins on Jae Crowder in order to make an inbound pass more difficult, but Cousins is squared up to Crowder, opening up the passing lane Crowder needs.

As for the action in the paint, Devin Booker sets a terrific screen on Ivica Zubac, allowing Deandre Ayton to break free. Could Nicolas Batum have bumped Ayton and recovered? Possibly, but he is understandably concerned with leaving Booker.

(NBA)

Once Ayton gets a step on Zubac running toward the basket, it’s on Crowder to put the ball in a spot in which Ayton can score. As you can see from the angle below, Crowder just narrowly avoids the backboard. The placement here is simply incredible.

“That’s definitely Jae’s game-winner,” Ayton said after the game.

deandre ayton suns play
(NBA)

Now, you may still be asking, “But why isn’t that a goaltending violation?”

As the NBA explained in its Last Two Minute Report from that December 2017 game, “Goaltending rules do not apply because (Chandler) makes contact with the ball off of a throw-in and not a live ball that has already legally been touched on the playing court.” Scott Foster, who served as the crew chief on Tuesday, offered the same explanation when asked about Ayton’s dunk.

Sometimes less than a second can be all the time in the world. Just ask any Suns fan.

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Clippers’ Paul George misses crucial free throws in stunning Game 2 loss to Suns

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Clippers' Paul George misses crucial free throws in stunning Game 2 loss to Suns

The box score from Tuesday’s Suns-Clippers game — a pivotal Game 2 win for Phoenix in the Western Conference finals — will show Paul George had a decent game.

Twenty-six points, on 10-of-23 shooting; six assists; six rebounds; and 5-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. He also scored his team’s last six points, all within the last minute, to help the Clippers to a 103-102 lead with just 8.2 seconds remaining.

The only stats that ultimately mattered in the Clippers’ 104-103 loss, however, were the final two free throws George — a career 84.7-percent free throw shooter — missed. They ultimately allowed Phoenix a chance at an unbelievable comeback victory, which may prove costly even as the series heads back to LA.

NBA MOCK DRAFT 2021: Who will Pistons, Rockets take with top picks?

Had George sunk both of those shots, the Suns would have needed a 3-pointer just to send the game to overtime. Had he sunk even one shot, they would have needed a 2-pointer. But he missed both, allowing the Suns to win on an inbound dunk with less than a second remaining:

Credit to Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder and the Suns. That play will go down as one of the top plays in NBA playoffs history. But every heartbreaking loss needs a goat, and no one fits the bill better than “Playoff P,” who could have secured a win for his team with the simplest of basketball scoring plays.

Here’s the bright side for the Clippers, if there is one: They have already overcome 2-0 deficits in each of their first two series against the Mavericks and Jazz, respectively. That’s likely a cold comfort as George and Co. head back to LA, however. The scathing Twitter comments aimed at George likely won’t do anything to help, either:

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