Posted in Achieve, Sports on 17 May 2012 | by Amit

Champions League Final Preview – Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich

So here we are. Almost ten months since the start of the 2011-2012 season, we’re now at the game which marks the end of the domestic European campaign. Elysium has been charting the progress of the Champions League competition and on most occasions we seem to have called it right, but the semi-finals threw up not one but two banana skins that we just couldn’t dodge. So instead of the El Classico final we all wanted we have two teams who’ve upset the odds to deserved their places in the final – Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich.

 

Yes, it’s England vs. Germany on the domestic front but with the cosmopolitan nature of today’s European leagues you can hardly position this tussle to a national scale. Instead we have two evenly-matched teams, each with their own aces in the pack, but who could secure the grandest prize in European club football – the Champions League trophy?

 

English Pride

 

Let’s start with Chelsea. Having been written off by everyman and his dog (including us here at Elysium) during their tie against Napoli, there seems to have been a rise in fortunes for the West London club in this competition. This has everything to do with Andre Villas-Boas’ sacking and Roberto Di Matteo’s subsequent appointment as interim manager. It’s the same group of players, but under renewed togetherness and harmony not seen since Jose Mourinho’s days at the helm. Di Matteo has given the team purpose and direction at the same time as reinstalling the old guard of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba to the side.

 

Drogba in particular has been the go-to guy for Chelsea during the second half of this season. His strength, presence and drive have seen the Ivorian score crucial goals against Napoli and Barcelona on route to the final. At the same time Lampard has started to dictate the play from midfield again. Big performances from Ramires, Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic have all proved pivotal in getting the team to the final. No more so than that night in the Nou Camp with just ten men against the might of Barcelona where they held firm against huge odds. The creativity and guile of Juan Mata will be needed to unlock a tight opposition defence.

 

However Chelsea’s hard-fought route to the final has taken its toll and a number of key men will miss the big game. Defenders Terry and Ivanovic, together with Ramires and Raul Meireles all suspended – representing a big loss of both key players and essential experience. Di Matteo must hope that his medical team can patch up the injured David Luiz and Gary Cahill in time for Saturday. Cahill in particular has experienced both sides of the spectrum this season with the relegation fight at Bolton until January when he moved to Chelsea to experience Champions League grandeur. Bolton are now relegated, while Cahill’s primed for a place in Chelsea’s starting eleven for the final – something he couldn’t have dreamt of if he tried at the start of the season. Di Matteo must hope he can find his midas touch for one more game this season to lift the crown Roman Abramovich craves more than any other.

 

German Efficiency

 

Chelsea’s opponents are Bayern Munich – a team with European pedigree and vast experience. Hollywood FC, as they are known is Germany, upset odds by beating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu to deny Mourinho a shot at winning an unprecedented third Champions League title with a third club, and facing off against the Chelsea team he mostly built and publicly adores. Bayern used every last drop of their football equivalent of ‘vorsprung durch technik’ to knock Real Madrid out and reach a final they’ll be hosting on home turf at the Allianz Arena.

 

Bayern have navigated their way to the final at the expense of Basel and Marseille before their real test against Real. Their coach Jupp Heynckes is hugely experienced at the age of 67 – with 26 years more coaching experience than his 41 year old counterpart Di Matteo. Heynckes has been shrewd in his handling of the media in the build up to the final, expertly deflecting the pressure away from his players as his tries to mastermind victory on home soil.

 

Bayern have their own problems with suspensions too – with defenders Holger Badstuber and David Alaba along with defensive midfielder Luis Gustavo missing out. Bayern do hold attacking flair in abundance though wingers Arjen Robben – (facing his old side Chelsea with a point to prove) and Franck Ribery on the flanks, supporting the prolific Mario Gomez who leads the line. Midfield is well marshalled by the talented Bastain Schweinsteiger while captain Philipp Lahm’s energy from full back will be a constant threat. Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos might edge the midfield engine room for the Germans.

 

Elite Entertainment

 

So the stage is set for an intriguing game which could prove to be a very entertaining final indeed. Attacking prowess from both sides will be on show in the visually stunning Allianz Arena – watch the stadium dazzle with it’s lights show. The way things are shaping up due to defensive suspensions it could be one of the most open end-to-end finals we’ve experienced in a long time in this competition. Munich will become a festival of football over this weekend as all eyes turn to Germany for a fitting centre piece to what has been an entertaining season so far. And we still have the European Championships to come in June!

 

 

Weighing it all up, the wise heads at Elysium Towers predict a Bayern victory here – playing on home turf and with fewer suspensions to contend with, the Germans could be too powerful for Chelsea. However we were so very wrong in our predictions for the semi-finals that it could all work out well for the boys in blue too. That said, we’re sticking to our guns on this one – a Bayern victory. Let’s hope football is the ultimate winner here in what should be a grand finale to this Champions League campaign.

 

Think our prediction is wrong, or reckon we’ve missed out another danger man – then tweet us with your thoughts!


 
 
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