Football comes home for Bayern on Roman's big night
The Allianz Arena awaits
Bayern Munich Chelsea
Goals Mario Gomez 12 Didier Drogba 5
Assists Toni Kroos 4 Fernando Torres 4
Yellows Bastian Schweinsteiger 3 Raul Meireles 5
Reds Holger Badstuber 1 John Terry 1
Rosters: Bayern Munich | Chelsea
Bayern Munich Chelsea
5/19 Chelsea 5/19 @Bayern Munich
John Brewin, Senior Editor
Chelsea's date with destiny: the occasion when their Roman empire can finally achieve its aim. Comrade Abramovich fell in love with football when famously watching a Champions League match and everything since arriving at Stamford Bridge has been aimed at the lifting of that famously oversized trophy, the European Cup.
He has been within an inch of the post, a slip of Luzhniki sod, and for a time that had looked like his last chance. An ever-revolving cast-list of coaches has been and gone since John Terry's moment of truth in Moscow. Since then, the players who took them to the brink of a dream becoming reality have aged and agued.
This was supposed to be a season of rebuilding. A young coach with new ideas was hired to sweep out the old guard. Yet they remain, and Andre Villas-Boas is jobless, only recently reappearing as a possible suitor for the vacant Liverpool position. Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech take their place, but the suspended Terry will not, as penance for his stupidity in the Nou Camp.
So, a bittersweet night for "Mr Chelsea" himself even if he does get to lift the trophy. Should that happen, then his team-mates will have bailed him out against the odds, though that has been the timbre of their campaign so far. Napoli, Benfica and especially Barcelona were all fancied to beat them, but were seen off.
Now it all comes down to one match. But then again, Bayern Munich are in a similar position. Their domestic league hopes may have lasted longer than Chelsea's but Borussia Dortmund have had their measure, as confirmed in last week's German Cup Final, where a 5-2 defeat served as a chilling reality check.
Dortmund's perpetual-motion style will not be replicated by Chelsea. After all, some of those ageing legs cannot maintain the pressing game. Both teams share power as a key facet of their game, though Bayern can sprinkle the stardust of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery into the attacking mix.
And both lack key personnel, with defence a particular problem for both after suspensions handed out after the semi-finals. Terry and Branislav Ivanovic are emulated in exile by Holger Badstuber and David Alaba. Both teams may require defensive reshuffles with players forced to play out of position. Jose Bosingwa may be forced to man the centre of defence for Chelsea while Anatoliy Tymoschuk, a defensive midfielder, may also have to fill a similar position for the Bavarians.
But where the two differ is the question of location, location, location. Bayern become the first team to play at home in a European Cup Final since Roma in 1984. They will be roared and encouraged to victory by a set of supporters eager for their first continental triumph since 2001, and to make up for the pain of losing to Inter Milan in Madrid in 2010.
Though at least Bayern can speak of previous triumphs; Chelsea and Roman Abramovich will hope to end their nine-year quest.
Bayern Munich player to watch: Mario Gomez: He is a goalscoring machine in the Bundesliga, but he is underappreciated away from Germany, mostly as a result of goalless tournaments at both Euro 2008 and South Africa 2010. The Champions League however, has seen him perform at a higher level, with 12 goals slotted in during Bayern's long journey home. His power and positioning may be too much for a patched-up Chelsea defence, on a night when he can finally confirm his worth to an international audience.
Chelsea player to watch: Jose Bosingwa: In the absence of Ivanovic and Terry, Bosingwa's importance has doubled to Chelsea. He once looked headed for the exit door in the next Chelsea clear-out but he has enjoyed a renaissance under Roberto Di Matteo. Both David Luiz and Gary Cahill are returning from hamstring injuries, although have not played competitively since suffering them. It presents a risk of losing two substitutions to injury rather than tactics for Di Matteo. He may plump for one of them, and switch Bosingwa to the centre where his pace was especially useful against Lionel Messi in particular. Should both be fielded then Bosingwa mans the right against whichever of the interchanging Robben and Ribery is on Bayern's flank. Either is a key detail.
Key battle - Bastian Schweinsteiger v John Obi Mikel: Bayern's key player is Schweinsteiger, who at 27 has become the kind of strutting midfield general that Steffen Effenberg was for his club's 2001 championship team. Should he play well, then their chances are increased. When he does not play at all, then his team suffers. His job is to dictate the play, but in a far more dominant fashion than Mikel, whose sitting role involves him breaking up play and giving the ball sensibly. Indeed the Nigerian does not do it in quite as expansive a fashion as Schweinsteiger, whose equivalent is more likely to be Frank Lampard. Yet with Bayern expected to be on the front foot, Mikel is likely to need to be on his mettle, much improved as he is since Di Matteo took over from Villas-Boas.
Trivia: Bayern Munich have twice lost in a European Cup Final to English teams. Aston Villa beat them in 1982 in Rotterdam, while Manchester United's 2-1 rescue mission in Barcelona remains the club's most hellish memory. This will be either their fifth victory or defeat in the final, having played in eight previously.
Stats: This will be the third European final for Jupp Heynckes as a manager, 32 years after his first one. He lost the UEFA Cup final with Borussia Monchengladbach in 1980 before winning the Champions League with Real Madrid in 1998.
Odds: Bayern's homefield advantage gives them favouritism at 1.80, with Chelsea rather backable at a price of 4.33 at bet365. A draw at full-time is 3.75. Fancy penalties? 12.00 for Bayern to win, 13.00 for Chelsea.
Prediction: A Bayern win, via an early goal that has Chelsea chasing, only for Bayern to bag another late on to make it 2-0.