doof Posts:1650 Followers:19
On 05/19/2012 03:31 AM in Soccer

UEFA Champions League Preview

From ESPNsoccernet

Football comes home for Bayern on Roman's big night
The Allianz Arena awaits
Competition Stats
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
Next Matches
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.

  • All Time Record: 558-531-15
doof Posts:1650 Followers:19
05/19/2012 03:33 AM

From BBC

Chelsea caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo is "very hopeful" Gary Cahill and David Luiz will be fit to start Saturday's Champions League final.

The defenders returned to training ahead of the match against Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena.

Cahill and Luiz have both been missing with hamstring injuries while Florent Malouda will train on Friday night after a hamstring problem of his own.

John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles are all suspended.

Cahill, who joined the Blues from Bolton in January, said: "I was sick when I got the injury so for me to make this one is a huge moment.

"It's my first final and it's in the biggest competition - sink or swim.

"You come here to play in these competitions and be a part of this.

"We've got a great chance now to lift the best trophy in club football."

Cahill believes that despite his absence, captain Terry will play a significant role in motivating the squad on Saturday.

He added: "He's a big presence in our team and our dressing room. He won't be playing but he'll be involved in the build-up.

"He'll be a big part of the day and we'll all see his influence."

Luiz has not featured since 15 April, while England international Cahill has missed the last five games with a similar problem.

He declared himself fit enough for Munich and said: "I'm so happy to return to training and now I can help Chelsea in this final."

Malouda failed to complete the first half of Chelsea's final Premier League game of the season against Blackburn on Sunday after straining a hamstring.

"We'll still assess Florent and it's going to be touch and go for him to be available for Saturday," added interim boss Di Matteo.

Bayern's Luiz Gustavo, David Alaba and Holger Badstuber will also miss the final, which is being played at their home ground, the Allianz Arena, through suspension.

  • All Time Record: 558-531-15
doof Posts:1650 Followers:19
05/19/2012 03:33 AM


Bayern have won seven consecutive home matches en route to the final
The last time the sides met, in 2005 quarter-finals, Chelsea won 6-5 on aggregate. Petr Cech, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba all featured
Bayern are hoping to join Liverpool as the third most successful club in the European Cup by winning their fifth trophy. Only Real Madrid and AC Milan have won more
Bayern have won one and lost two of three previous finals against English clubs.
This is the sixth European Cup final between German and English teams - only once previously did the Bundesliga side prevail
A Bayern win would make Jupp Heynckes the 19th coach to have won the Cup twice, after his 1998 success with Real Madrid
Bayern have won 13 of their last 14 European home games, while Chelsea have won once on their travels in this season's campaign
Chelsea's only previous final appearance came in 2008 in Moscow when they lost on penalties to Manchester United

  • All Time Record: 558-531-15
doof Posts:1650 Followers:19
05/19/2012 03:34 AM

Chelsea's Frank Lampard relishes Bayern Munich challenge
By Phil McNulty Chief football writer, BBC Sport in Munich

Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich
Date: Saturday, 19 May
Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 live commentary

Frank Lampard is relishing the task of leading Chelsea in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in their own backyard, saying: "Bring it on!"

Chelsea must beat Bayern in the German side's Allianz Arena to lift the trophy for the first time.

Lampard is undaunted by the prospect, but admits that the venue gives Jupp Heynckes' side an advantage.

He said: "As long as we believe in ourselves and have a great quiet focus and determination, then bring it on!"

The 33-year-old midfielder added: "The fact it is being played at the Allianz Arena gives them an advantage but it is great here in Munich.

"The atmosphere is amazing and we have sampled a bit of it already, travelling in from the airport.
Chelsea's road to Munich

13 Sep : Bayer Leverkusen (h) W 2-0

28 Sep : Valencia (a) D 1-1

19 Oct : Genk (h) W 5-0

1 Nov : Genk (a) D 1-1

23 Nov : Bayer Leverkusen (a) L 1-2

6 Dec : Valencia (h) W 3-0

21 Feb : Napoli (last 16, 1st leg) (a) L 1-3

14 Mar : Napoli (last 16, 2nd leg) W 4-1 (5-4 on agg)

27 Mar : Benfica (quarter-final, 1st leg) (a) W 1-0

4 Apr : Benfica (quarter-final, 2nd leg) (h) W 2-1 (3-1 on agg)

18 Apr : Barcelona (semi-final, 1st leg) (h) W 1-0

24 Apr : Barcelona (semi-final, 2nd leg) (a) D 2-2 (3-2 on agg)

"You can play around with how much it means [to get] changed in your home dressing room, or playing on your home pitch in front of your own fans, but there is a tremendous determination in our group."

Chelsea's interim manager Roberto di Matteo is equally convinced his side can end the season by claiming the trophy that has eluded them for so long, most agonisingly when they lost on penalties to Manchester United in Moscow in the 2008 final.

Di Matteo said: "We have all the qualities you need to win this competition. These qualities have taken us to this event here, so I am very positive and very confident."

Despite Chelsea's progress to the final, Di Matteo has yet to secure his long-term future as Chelsea boss, but Lampard believes he has done "a perfect job" so far.

A full-time successor to Andre Villas-Boas has not been confirmed, even though Di Matteo has guided the Blues to an FA Cup final win and Saturday's Champions League climax.

Lampard, who will captain the side against Bayern with John Terry suspended, said: "Di Matteo has been very clever managing the situation.

"Rather than make drastic changes he spoke to everyone individually."

The Italian remained coy on potential developments beyond the meeting at the Allianz Arena, with former England coach Fabio Capello the latest name to be linked with Stamford Bridge.

Di Matteo said: "I am just focusing on this game. You don't know what the future will bring. We are all just focused on being successful."

Lampard continued: "We got a few wins but then the result against Napoli in the Champions League changed everything, when we came back from 3-1 down in the first leg to go through. From them then on, quietly, he's done a perfect job."

Lampard insisted there would be no deputation to owner Roman Abramovich from Chelsea's squad in support of Di Matteo should they beat Bayern.

"People seem to think that at Chelsea we ring up the owner every now and again to decide who comes in or who gets sacked," said Lampard. "It's not how it works at this club and I don't think that's how it should work at any club.

"Decisions like that are out of our hands and if you start thinking about things like that you are taking your eyes off that ball, but I will be very pleased for the manager and the club if we win."

Meanwhile, former Chelsea player Marcel Desailly says di Matteo is the "best man" to lead the club, regardless of the Champions League final result.

"I think he's the best man to coach Chelsea," said Desailly, who spent six years at Chelsea from 1998 to 2004.

But Chelsea have been in no rush to make a firm decision on the 41-year-old's future, with chief executive Ron Gourlay saying there would be no talks until after the Bayern Munich game.

Yet Desailly is in no doubt that Abramovich should give former team-mate Di Matteo the job on a permanent basis.

"He is part of the team that built the foundation of the club and he gives 100%," added Desailly, who helped Chelsea win the FA Cup in 2000 and the Uefa Super Cup in 1998.

"He's been one of the players - there is something special about him. There is a big challenge to change in the squad. We need to give him the chance.

"Roman will have to consider Roberto. I was the captain under Roman, I know he loves the game. If he loves the game he will stick with him."

  • All Time Record: 558-531-15