Bayern Munich take on Chelsea at the Allianz Arena on Saturday evening for the European Cup. Both teams were underdogs in their semi-finals, but sneaked through against all the odds. Bayern have home advantage which makes them favourites, but will they buckle under the pressure?
Here’s my guide to what promises to be a fascinating encounter.
Manager: Roberto di Matteo – likely to be the Italian’s final game in charge so he will want to go out with his name in the history books – for the right reasons.
Key player: Petr Cech – sure to be a busy night for the experienced Czech keeper. He will need to be on top form and ensure his defence stay disciplined (unlike in the semi-final).
Semi-Final: Beat pre-tournament favourites Barcelona 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, before drawing 2-2 in the Nou Camp, despite having captain John Terry sent off.
Most impressive Champions League game this season: 4-1 v Napoli
Likely starting XI:
Cech, Bosingwa, Luiz, Cahill, Cole, Mikel, Essien, Lampard, Kalou, Mata, Drogba.
Three ways Bayern Munich can be beaten:
- Turn the crowd against the side. Winning some early, crunching tackles usually does the trick.
- Exploit their defence. On paper this is their weak point, and this was shown in last weekend’s 5-2 German Cup final defeat to Borussia Dortmund.
- Park the bus, metaphorically. Shut the attacking threats out, soak up the pressure then hit them on break with a sucker-punch from Drogba (or Torres).
Manager: Jupp Heynckes – a victory would make him just the fourth manager ever to win the European Cup twice with different clubs, after he won the trophy in 1998 with Real Madrid.
Key player: Arjen Robben – possesses a lethal left foot and has the ability to carve his way through defences – and turn games.
Semi-Final: Defeated Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid 2-1 in Munich, and, despite losing by the same scoreline in Madrid, outwitted the Spaniards on penalties.
Most impressive Champions League game this season: 7-0 v Basel
Three ways Chelsea can be beaten:
- Target the defence. John Terry didn’t fancy a final appearance, so they’re left with two rather inexperienced players in David Luiz and Gary Cahill who have only just recovered from injuries.
- Surround Drogba. He’s the main attacking threat and frustrating him will ensure he goes off in a sulk at the end, goalless.
- Water the grass before the game (if it hasn’t rained). This will cue memories of the final in Moscow in 2008 and we all know what happened then. There’s nothing like a bit of déjà-vu.
Likely starting XI:
Neuer, Lahm, Boateng,Tymoshchuk, Contento, Kroos, Schweinsteiger, Muller, Robben, Ribery, Gomez.
Both sides will be nervy – Chelsea for simply being in the final, and Bayern for having an expectant home crowd on their backs. The more the game opens up though, the more chances there will be. I think it will go to extra-time, and Bayern will eventually come out on top 3-1.
What do you think?
Leave your predictions below.