The history of Manchester City in European Finals: will they be crowned European Champions for the very first time?

On Saturday night, Manchester City will face Inter in İstanbul in the UEFA Champions League Final.

This’ll be the Sky Blues’ third appearance in a European Final, the other two coming 51-years apart, the longest wait any club has ever had to endure between continental finals.

Read all about the history of Internazionale Milano in European Finals here.

Manchester City 2-1 Górnik Zabrze: Cup Winners’ Cup Final 1970

Of course, the vast majority of Manchester City’s success has come since Khaldoon Al Mubarak’s takeover in 2008, although older supporters will point to the fact they did win major European silverware long before this.

Back in 1969, Manchester City picked up their fourth FA Cup, beating Leicester City in the final, with Neil Young the only scorer at Wembley.

This saw the Citizens qualify for Europe for only the second time, having lost to Fenerbahçe in the European Cup’s first round that same season.

This time, Joe Mercer’s team were competing in the Cup Winners’ Cup, winning all four home matches en route to the final.

Man City overcame Athletic Club, Lierse, Académica de Coimbra in extra time and then Schalke, scoring 14 goals in their four wins at Maine Road.

For the final itself, they met Polish Cup winners Górnik Zabrze in Vienna, after they’d ousted Roma in a semi-final replay by virtue of a coin toss; imagine if European semi-finals were decided like that now!

That night at Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Young, scorer of the winner in the previous season’s FA Cup Final, and Francis Lee wrote their names into Manchester City history, both on target in a 2-1 victory.

Pre-takeover, the Sky Blues won 12 major honours, with this by far their crowning achievement of the era.

Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea: Champions League Final 2021

2020/21 will always be a weird season for all involved, given that the overwhelming majority of it was played behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For Manchester City, it was their tenth successive season in the Champions League, and the year they finally reached a final.

In recent seasons, the Citizens had seen their European dreams shattered by Monaco, Liverpool, Tottenham and Olympique Lyonnais, each time in bizarre or dramatic circumstances.

This time round, they appeared unstoppable, accumulated 16 points in the group phase, before winning all six knockout matches.

Pep Guardiola’s team swatted aside Borussia Mönchengladbach, both legs uniquely played at Puskás Aréna in Budapest, beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 both home and away before steamrollering Paris Saint-Germain 4-1 on aggregate.

The final was originally supposed to be hosted by Krestovsky Stadium, before being switched to Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadı due to Covid.

However, İstanbul didn’t get to host either, with Türkiye imposing strict quarantine rules for visitors from the UK, meaning Man City’s clash with Chelsea would be played at Estádio do Dragão in Porto.

This occasion was surreal, with only 30% of the stadium’s capacity allowed, while the final came just 15 months after Man City had been banned from UEFA competition for two-seasons, with CAS then overturning this ruling largely due to time-barring issues.

On the night, it was Chelsea supporters celebrating in Northern Portugal, with Kai Havertz’s goal on the cusp of half time the match-winner.

Guardiola was, as usual, criticised for over-thinking his team selection, leaving out João Cancelo and Rodri, although the concussion suffered by Kevin De Bruyne in the second half was possibly more of a factor.

This Saturday, Man City will belatedly get to play a Champions League Final on the outskirts of İstanbul, so will they belatedly claim a first European Cup title?

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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