CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL PREVIEW: Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea
To football fans the world over suffering from English premier league football hangover after a pulsating end to the season with Man city being crowned champions in the final minutes the wait is finally over. You have a football feast awaiting you. This is the ‘icing on the cake’. The venue for this culinary splendour is the ‘Allianz arena’ where Bayern Munich playing in front of their home fans takes on Chelsea.
Both teams employed a different route to get to the finals. Bayern who finished third in the Bundesliga last season cruised to a two legged victory 3-0 on aggregate versus FZ Zurich in the qualifying round for the Champions league. Bayern topped their group with 13 points ahead of Villarreal (Spain), Napoli (Italy) and Manchester city (England). In the first round after the group stage, Bayern thumped Basel 7-1 on aggregate after losing the first leg 1-0 in Switzerland. Bayern then proceeded to crush Marseille (France) 4-0 on aggregate in the quarter finals. Bayern also overcame predictions and eliminated Real Madrid in a pulsating semi final on penalties after a 3-3 aggregate draw over 2 legs. Bayern finished 2nd in the Bundesliga this season behind champions Borussia Dortmund.
Chelsea had ended their previous campaign as 2nd in the English premier league ensuring direct qualification for the champions league group stage. Chelsea also won their group defeating Valencia (Spain) 3-0 on the final match day for their group. They also came from the brink of elimination overturning a 3-1 first leg defeat in Napoli (Italy) by triumphing at Stamford bridge 4-1 to go through 5-4 on aggregate.
Chelsea had a more routine victory in the quarter finals defeating Benefica 3-1 on aggregate. They saved their best for last by eliminating the holders Barcelona in the semi finals when given little chance. They have undergone a complete transformation under interim coach Roberto Di Matteo and also won the fa cup this season. They however have to win the champions league to qualify for the champions league next season as they finished 6th in the premier league behind Manchester city, Manchester united, arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle respectively.
Bayern Munich have appeared in the champions league finals 8 times and winning on 4 occasions so they are used to the big stage. Chelsea have only appeared in the finals once in 2008 losing on penalties to Manchester United with John Terry handing them the trophy with a slip and a poorly taken penalty in the penalty shoot out. John Terry incidentally will miss the finals after performing what can only be compared to a rugby/ karate move with a knee to the back of a Barcelona player ruling himself out of the finals.
Bayern Munich coach has won two league titles with Bayern Munich. At 67, he is more experienced than Roberto Di Matteo who at 41 is still finding his way in football management with no league titles but having won the fa cup as a player (1997, 2000) and as a manager in 2012.
Key players to watch out for are “The drog” Didier Drogba for Chelsea. When he is on fire he is unplayable. He is not as quick as he used to be due to age and injuries but he is strong and lethal when on form. If he plays well Chelsea win.
For Bayern Bastian Schweinsteiger (try spelling that in a spelling bee contest!) is their main man. He is your consummate box to box midfielder and vital for club and country (Germany). He pulls the strings in midfield. He also has a decent record at international level. 23 goals in 90 caps. Not bad for a midfielder. His battles with Frank Lampard in midfield would be an interesting one.
The support cast for both teams have to show up. Suspensions have hurt both teams with John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Merieles and Ramires missing out for Chelsea. Bayern will be without David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luiz Gustavo
The man in the middle, referee Pedro Proenca from Portugal is going to have a busy day and will definitely earn his salary. This one is too close to call. Whoever dominates the midfield should come out on top. However this is football. Anything can happen!