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05-18-2012, 11:40 PM #1
2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Bayern Munich v Chelsea Preview
Bayern have four European cups to their name; Chelsea have none. Yet when the two teams collide at the Allianz Arena on the 19th of May, 2012 for the Champions League final, neither will yield an inch. These are two teams who have had their fair share of heartbreaks, as far as this competition is concerned, and on both occasions, it was Manchester United that inflicted all the pain. While the Bavarians will never forgot the calamitous last five minutes in 1999 at Camp Nou, the Blues still have nightmares of John Terry’s fateful slip in 2008.
Bayern Munich had to go through a play-off to reach the group stage of Champions League this season. Once they made it through, they were put alongside Manchester City, Napoli and Villarreal in the group of death. However, that didn’t stop them from qualifying at the top of their group by winning 4 of the 6 games. The next two rounds came against Basel and Marseille and the Germans made short work of them to book a mouth-watering clash against Jose Mourinho’s Madrid, who they defeated in a nail-biting penalty shootout. Now, only Chelsea stand between them and winning the biggest prize in club competition, on their own turf, in from of their own fans.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have defied all odds – and reason – to reach the final, only for their second time in history. They could have been knocked out against Valencia in the group phase; improbably came back from the dead against Napoli, and they should have been defeated by Barcelona in the semi-finals. Yet, they are still standing and are 90 minutes away from lifting something that has only been claimed, if at all, in dreams. As the situation stands, today no one can say for sure what this Chelsea team is capable of when they have their backs against the wall.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Thanks to the rules of the continental competition, three of Bayern’s top players – Gustavo, Alaba, and Badstuber – will have to witness the enjoyment/pangs of the game from the gallery. The absence of these three players have left a gaping hole in Bayern’s tactical system. Bayern’s defensive organization, which had apparently inexperienced Badstuber and Alaba, and a defensive midfielder Gustavo in it, was expected to get steamrolled by the ace attackers of Real Madrid. But these three players proved everybody wrong and were one of the reasons why Madrid could never become what they were touted to in the two-legged contest. Bayern will dearly miss the three players.
In their absence, the million dollar question arises, “Who will then be filling the boots of these three prized assets?” Contento was a possibility to play as the left-back, but Rafinha’s experience may put him ahead of Contento in the pecking order. If the later plays, then Lahm will have to shift back to left-back position. Van Buyten will need to win the race against time to get fit enough to play the game and partner Boateng in the heart of defense, but looks unlikely that he will make it. It seems, Tymoshchuk is more likely to partner Boateng in defense. If Tymoshchuk plays in defense, then it will be all the more likely for Kroos to partner Schweinsteiger in the holding midfielder’s role. Robben and Ribery will, as usual, be used as the offensive wingmen to flank lone striker Mario Gomez. Muller will have a crucial role to play. Even though his primary role will be to play as an auxiliary striker, he will have to work hard to drop back and position himself to keep the ball moving, keep possession and drive the team forward.
The key source of ball distribution will come from deep positions. Both Kroos and Schweinsteiger are expected to take the additional duty of finding menacing passes to build up play, apart from sharing their ball-winning duty. Muller will work in tandem with the wide players as well as with the holding midfielders to create opportunities from left, right and centre. Ribéry and Robben will have their task cut out against the Chelsea fullbacks to create goal scoring opportunities. Lahm and Rafinha will provide the wide players support up front. Muller’s efficacy in a dual role could decide the fate of the final game of the season.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Rafinha, Tymoshchuk, Boateng, Lahm; Kroos, Schweinsteiger; Robben, Ribery, Muller; Gomez
This is the biggest game ever for Chelsea; in addition to the trophy, their Champions League qualification for next season hinges on the result, having finished 6th in the league.
Missing from action will be captain John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires, who was recently voted Chelsea’s Players’ Player of the Season and one who is likely to be missed most dearly come Saturday. However, the better news for Chelsea is that both their remaining central defenders – David Luiz and Gary Cahill – who had been injured, have been training with the team and are expected to start the final. Florent Malouda is still doubtful though.
In front of Petr Cech, the back-four of Bosingwa, Cahill, Luiz, and Cole will start the game in Munich. The double pivot in the 4-2-3-1 system will be comprised of Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel. Juan Mata, expectedly, will start in the hole behind the centre-forward, who would be none other than Didier Drogba in all likelihood. Kalou will feature on the left of Mata, while either Sturridge or Torres will start on the right, in place of the suspended Ramires.
In absence of the fastest player on the team, Di Matteo is may decide to surprise Bayern by going for the goal early, rather than relying merely on counter-attacking football. Offensively, a lot will rest on Mata, who may get a lot of space to operate in the centre in the absence of a proper defensive midfielder, and Drogba, who will be up against a makeshift defence. A likely route towards goal early on could be from Lampard to Mata to Drogba. If Chelsea score first, the remaining game could see them maintain their shape, defend deep and look to launch a counter at every available opportunity.
In defense, Cole and Bosingwa have arguably the most difficult job at hand – to keep Robben and Ribery in check. If Lahm plays at right-back, he can make Cole’s job even harder, who will need help from Kalou to keep Lahm occupied in his own half as much as possible. Another key battle will be between Mikel and Muller, who is expected to play in the hole, with Kroos moving further back in midfield. If the Nigerian manages to continue with the good work that he’s been doing of late and stifles the German international, Gomez can be isolated up front; thus giving the returning centre-backs a better chance of keeping the prolific striker in check.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bosingwa, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Kalou, Mata, Torres; Drogba
1. The two clubs met in the 2004-05 quarter-finals, with Chelsea winning 6-5 on aggregate – five of their six goals were scored by players who are still at the club
2. Bayern Munich have scored 25 and conceded 10 goals in their 12 UCL games. Chelsea have scored 24 and conceded 11 in their 12 UCL games
3. Mario Gomez has scored 12 goals this season in Champions League, two less than Lionel Messi
4. Franck Ribery is the most fouled player in the competition with 42 fouls suffered prior to the final
5. Petr Čech is the only Chelsea player to have appeared in all 1,110 minutes in the competition this season
TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For
Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich)
Gomez has been in stellar form for Bayern this season, finishing almost at will and scoring 12 in Europe. He is there where you need him, more often than not. The presence of such a poacher, alongside skillful players such as Ribery, Robben and Muller balances Bayern’s attack. And, this is what Chelsea will be concerned about, especially in the absence of Terry, and in the presence of two defenders who have spent major part of last month nursing injuries.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Didier Drogba is capable of changing a game on its head, all by his own. If you add his sense of injustice accumulated over time and the fact that this might be his last game in a Chelsea shirt, the script becomes perfect for the Ivorian to finally leave his mark on the competition. When these two teams last met, Drogba scored twice to take his team to the semi-finals in 2005. On Saturday, goal from a player who has scored in almost all crucial games this season can take Chelsea closer to their first European Cup.
Bayern Munich 2-3 Chelsea
Bayern have the home advantage; Chelsea have a group of players who are desperate for this very trophy, having come excruciatingly close to winning it and having been unfairly knocked out on more than one occasion. The game may be a close one, but Chelsea still have it in them to overcome Bayern’s advantages.
Last edited by mightyghost; 05-18-2012 at 11:44 PM.
05-19-2012, 05:06 PM #2