UEFA Champions League Final

Bayern Munich v Chelsea – Saturday 19th May – Allianz Arena (20:45)

Bayern Munich v Chelsea

After seeing off Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, the 2012 Champions League final sees German giants Bayern Munich hosting former English champions Chelsea. There isn’t much history between the two sides to look back on. Bayern possess the far superior record in the competition, this being their 9th final. So far they’ve won four and lost four, but interestingly have lost more often than not when matched up against English opposition, with Aston Villa beating them in 1982 and Manchester United in 1999. Neither of those matches though were in Munich, a place where English sides have only ever won once in European competition (Norwich in 1993).

Despite a German Cup Final thumping by arch rivals Borussia Dortmund last weekend (5-2), who completed a domestic double, the attacking firepower of Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben – who knows Chelsea as well as anyone – goal machine Mario Gomez, and the central threat of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller (second striker) is primed and ready to exploit Chelsea’s weaknesses. With Terry, the leader of the Chelsea defence, suspended for the final because of a red card received in the semi-final, the Blues back line will have to contain Munich striker Mario Gomez and co, or it’s going to be a disastrous night for them. Gomez is a strong striker who has a powerful shot and movement second to none. He dominated the Bundesliga this season with 26 goals in 33 appearances. A big plus for Bayern is home advantage. Domestically they won 14 of their 17 home matches scoring a handsome 49 goals and conceding only 6. They also won all 6 games played at home en route to this final  beating Real Madrid, Marseille, Basel (7-0), Manchester City, Napoli and Villarreal in the process.

Chelsea’s improbable comeback in the second leg of the semi-final at the Nou Camp against defending champions Barcelona with 10 men gave the team a ton of confidence and the belief that they can overcome any odds. However, defeating a world-class squad like Bayern will be tough for Chelsea since several important players are suspended for the final. Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles, John Terry and Ramires will all miss the final. Ramires is the biggest loss for the Blues because of his ability to defend, score on the attack and give the club pace in the middle of the pitch. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Chelsea has success if Didier Drogba doesn’t come to the party. He was key against Barcelona in the semi-final and his size and strength could be an advantage over a Munich defence that isn’t very big and is not used to dealing with strikers as powerful as him. Chelsea struggled on the road in the Premier League. In their 17 home matches they won only six matches, losing six and drawing seven. However, they are a revitalised outfit under Roberto Di Matteo who has surprisingly inspired them to win the FA Cup and brought them to the most prestigious cup final. Winning the Champions League will be the only way for the Blues to qualify for next seasons’ Champions League after finishing sixth on the league table and a chance for caretaker Di Matteo to boost his chances of being named permanent Chelsea Manager.

Both sides will start the match looking for the early goal with Chelsea probably likely to sit back if they are to get it. Bayern will be inspired at home and with their quality attack should get something early on and win the match.