FILE: Ndidi and Iheanacho
As Chelsea slug it out with Leicester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday, Thomas Tuchel’s side will be hoping to pass the first test in their domestic-European club pursuit this season, with their Champions League final against Manchester City to follow.
Nigerian Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho are handed starting roles in the match.
Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester currently rank ahead of Chelsea in the Premier League table and the club are aiming to lift the Cup for the first time in their history.
The FA Cup final will be decided with 30 minutes of extra time and penalties if required.
This season’s final is taking place before the end of the Premier League season, and the last time this happened was in 2012/13, when Wigan Athletic beat Manchester City 1-0.
For today’s final, over 20,000 people have trooped to Wembley Stadium.
Before kickoff at 17:15 BST, the Duke of Cambridge will be presented to both teams.
Speaking to The PUNCH on Saturday, Nigerian football writer, Clinton McDubus, believes that Chelsea will turn up victorious by a narrow margin.
“I think it will be a draw at full time and go into extra time. 1-0 win for Chelsea most likely,” said McDubus.
“I think finals like this largely depend on experience. Chelsea have players who have dealt with this kind of pressure consistently compared to Leicester. Also, Leicester look heavily reliant on Kelechi these days. If he’s shut down, they are unlikely to do anything significant, as Vardy is in dire form and Barnes is still out.
“History also plays a part. Leicester have lost all the FA Cup finals they’ve ever played, the last being in 1969. They’ve had better luck in the league cup but they’ve not won that since 2000. They have a lot to overcome.
“Chelsea are the 3rd most successful club in the FA Cup. Since 94, they’ve gotten to 10 FA Cup finals. They’ve beaten every team they’ve faced in those 10 finals except Arsenal (whom they’ve lost to in 3 different finals).
“So, history favours Chelsea. Momentum favours Chelsea. Quality favours Chelsea. Experience favours Chelsea.
“We might certainly see an upset but it looks exactly like the kind of final Chelsea always win. Their last 6 FA Cup final wins were by 1 goal. 5 of them ended 1-0.”
Since the turn of the century, Chelsea have reached the FA Cup final on ten occasions and have lifted the trophy six times.
Leicester, on the other hand, have never won the title, with their last final appearance in 1969.
Chelsea line-up: Kepa, Azpilicueta (C), Thiago Silva, Rüdiger, James, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso, Ziyech, Werner, Mount.
Substitutes: Mendy, Chilwell, Emerson, Zouma, Gilmour, Havertz, Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic, Giroud
Leicester City line-up: Schmeichel (C) Castagne, Fofana, Evans, Soyuncu, Thomas, Ndidi, Tielemans, Perez, Iheanacho, Vardy.
Substitutes: Ward, Morgan, Amartey, Ricardo, Choudhury, Mendy, Praet, Maddison, Albrighton