One of the biggest matches in club football takes place this evening as Bayern Munich take on Chelsea for the chance to lift the famous European Cup at the home of the Bavarians, the Allianz Arena.
The build-up to the final has been an exciting one as both sets of fans travel to Munich in high spirits after their respective campaigns in the competition. Bayern Munich will be looking to clinch their fifth European crown in their own backyard whilst Chelsea have another opportunity to become European champions for the first time in their history after their disappointment in 2008.
Bayern will be favourites going into the match due to their strong home record, however Chelsea will have plenty to say after their roller-coaster season.
Bayern come into the match on the back of a 5-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup Final and a second placed finish in the Bundesliga. The German side was always going to be one of the favourites to win the Champions League before the competition began in September. They had to negotiate some tricky ties including the likes of Marseille and Real Madrid but thanks to their terrific counter-attacking approach they are in the final for the first time since 2010, when they eventually lost to Inter Milan in Madrid.
The 2001 champions play a 4-3-2-1 formation, with top scorer Mario Gomez as the only striker. Gomez has had an incredible season scoring 42 goals in all competitions, of which 13 are in the Champions League. The former Stuttgart striker will be looking to carry his tremendous form into the final and will be a massive threat to the Chelsea defence.
Another player to watch for Bayern is a certain Dutchman who used to wear the blue of Chelsea back in the José Mourinho era. This is of course Arjen Robben. The left-footed craftsman has been in flying form this season scoring 19 goals with eight assists in all competitions. Robben is a nightmare for any full-back as he loves to use his skills to conjure up chances galore and has a tendency to cut inside from his wing.
It has been a topsy-turvy campaign for Chelsea, with the dismissal of André Villas-Boas after just eight months at the helm as the Blues faced the fear of not finishing in the top four. Villas-Boas’ assistant Roberto Di Matteo was announced as the interim first team coach in mid-March and his presence has got the West London club believing in themselves again. He has turned the club into a potential Champions League winning team, as well as guiding the club to their fourth FA Cup triumph in six seasons with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Wembley.
Di Matteo’s first Champions League game was a daunting task with the second leg of his side’s Champions League Last 16 match against Napoli, in which they were trailing 3-1. A thrilling match ended in Chelsea beating the Italian side 4-1 on the night to reach the quarter-finals. Di Matteo has reignited confidence in the squad and their abilities, helping the side claim an impressive 3-1 aggregate win over Benfica in the quarter-finals.
Chelsea then faced their old nemesis Barcelona in the semi-finals, which saw two very tense games. Didier Drogba scored to give the Blues a narrow advantage going into the second leg at the Nou Camp, while a needless sending off for captain John Terry gave his side cause for concern before half-time in the return leg. Blues were already 1-0 down on the night and that lead was soon doubled, but Ramires pulled a goal back before half-time. The second half was unforgettable as Chelsea put on an incredible defensive display, coupled with a late Fernando Torres goal to reach their second ever Champions League final.
In terms of players to watch for Chelsea, Juan Mata has had a wonderful maiden season in England. Following fellow Spaniard David Silva to the Premier League, Mata has lived up to fans’ expectations for his trickery and excellent passing. Mata, 24, has conjured up an outstanding 20 assists this season along with netting 12 goals since moving to Stamford Bridge from Valencia last summer.
Didier Drogba is a striker that any defender would hate to face, with his terrific goalscoring form throughout his career. If the service is right, you know the Drog will be on the end of it to put the ball in the back of the net. He has scored some very important goals in his career and tonight may join that list if he can get on the scoresheet.
Overall, I think it will be a very interesting match-up. Bayern Munich will be fired up to win the Champions League in their own stadium, to become the third team to do so after Real Madrid and Inter Milan in 1957 and 1965 respectively. On the other hand, Chelsea will be raring to go so as not to repeat the 2008 final against Manchester United in Moscow.
John Terry, who missed that vital penalty that night, is suspended for the match after his sending off against Barcelona and I feel Chelsea will lose a big voice in the team even though they have the experience of Frank Lampard, who is likely to take over the captain’s armband.
I can see end-to-end action due to both sides’ counter attacking abilities, however Chelsea will need to defend just as well as they did against Barcelona in order to beat the force of Bayern Munich. Bayern are one of the best attacking teams that I’ve seen and on that front, I’m predicting the Bavarians to win 2-1 tomorrow night.