Champions League final: teetotalism, tactics dinners and other fun facts

Much has been written about Pep Guardiola’s Premier League title winners and Thomas Tuchel’s fast-improving Chelsea in the buildup to Saturday’s Champions League final in Porto. But here are a few fun facts and potential omens that you may not be aware of:

Manchester City have been designated as the home side in the final. Uefa have confirmed that “both finalists may wear their first-choice colours, but if there is a clash then [Chelsea] must use an alternative kit.” However, when the two sides met in the Premier League this month, both wore their home kits.

Chelsea manager Tuchel is the first manager to reach the European Cup/Champions League final in consecutive seasons with different clubs, having also led PSG to last year’s Champions League final.

Tuchel doesn’t drink beer or wine and has previously said that his alcohol consumption is “very close to zero” although he has conceded that he could drink a glass of champagne or a gin and tonic after a significant victory. He also “tries to be a vegetarian but some days it does not work”. He once told German media: “After victories I’m prone to all kinds of messes: chocolate, peanuts, chips. Fast food only very rarely. Something special must have happened there. And it has to be dark, otherwise I can’t get fast food down.”

Guardiola has had a lot of celebrating to do over the years and was recently seen smoking a cigar while singing Oasis’s Don’t Look Back in Anger at City’s party to celebrate their Premier League title. “We drank a bit, we danced, we hugged a lot, we remembered how good it was,” he said. “Then at 11.30pm, 15 pizzas arrived and that was the best moment of the night. I was not in a perfect condition to decide which one.”

Chelsea’s hotel, overlooking Porto’s harbour, is home to a falcon named Lucifer, who helps to scare pigeons away from guests that are dining outside on the terrace.

The Champions League trophy, nicknamed Ol’ Big Ears owing to its two large handles, stands 73.5cm tall and weighs 7.5kg, which is approximately the same weight as a large bowling ball.

Jürg Stadelmann designed the trophy, which took a total of 340 hours to make in 1967, although there was a strict deadline. “It had to be finished before 28 March,” Stadelmann added, “because I was getting married and taking my wife on a 10-day boat trip to Los Angeles.”

City’s appearance comes 51 years after their last major European final – the 1970 Cup Winners’ Cup final in which they beat Gornik Zabrze 2-1 – breaking the record for the longest gap between finals for a team.

Marshmello, an American DJ who always wears a full face mask to protect his anonymity, will headline an ‘opening ceremony’ alongside singers Selena Gomez and Khalid, which will take place approximately 10 minutes before the 8pm BST kick off.

Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz will take charge of Saturdays final. Lahoz has awarded three penalties against City in three Champions League games and sent Guardiola to the stands at half-time of their quarter-final defeat by Liverpool in 2018, after which the City manager described the official as “a special guy, he likes to be different, he likes to be special”.

While Tuchel was manager of Mainz, he went for dinner with Guardiola, then of Barcelona, on three occasions. The pair used the salt and pepper shakers and glasses to lay out their tactics on the table.

Chelsea have returned 800 unsold tickets to Uefa, just under a sixth of their 6,000 allocation. Uefa confirmed the highest price for a seat was £515, although tickets start at £60.50. In total there will be an attendance of 16,500, approximately a third of the capacity of the Estádio do Dragão.

Since featuring in a 2-1 defeat to Lyon in September 2018, Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva is unbeaten in his last 26 Champions League matches (won 23, drawn three) – the longest unbeaten run in the history of the competition.

Tuchel is unbeaten in his last four encounters with the Spaniard (won two, drawn two).

This season’s final will be contested by two English teams for a third time, also occurring in 2008 (Chelsea v Manchester United) and 2019 (Liverpool v Spurs). It’s only the eighth time two teams from the same nation will be contesting the final, with Spanish teams also doing so a joint record three times – 2000 (Real Madrid v Valencia) and 2014 and 2016 (Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid).

Tuchel learned English from his playing days in the early 90s at Stuttgarter Kickers, a lower-league side in Germany, where he was best friends with South Africa-born striker Sean Dundee, who later went on to sign for Liverpool in 1998 for £2m. Tuchel also speaks German, French, and a little bit of Italian and Latin. Guardiola speaks five languages fluently: English, Spanish, Italian, German and Catalan.