BAYERN MUNICH HAVE several distinct advantages over Chelsea as they head into tomorrow’s Champions League final.
Firstly, the German powerhouse are playing at their home ground, the Allianz Arena, which is a formidable fortress. Secondly, Bayern won the Champions League forerunner, the European Cup three times in a row, between 1974-76, under the leadership of their greatest player, Franz Beckenbauer.
They also won their one and only Champions League trophy in 2001, defeating Valencia 5-4 on penalties after the match finished 1-1.
Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, Chelsea have never won Europe’s elite competition, although they finished runners-up to Manchester United in Moscow in 2008.
The score after extra-time was 1-1 with United, winning 6-5 on penalties.
So Chelsea, on paper, are on a hiding to nothing but do not tell that to manager Roberto di Matteo or club captain John Terry, who is suspended after being sent off in the semi-final against Barcelona, but will still be allowed to lift the silverware if his club is successful.
Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles are also serving bans, while Florent Malouda (hamstring) is doubtful.
Bayern’s Luiz Gustavo, David Alaba and Holger Badstuber will also miss the through suspension. But, despite the doom and gloom, there is some good news for the London underdogs, with Gary Cahill and David Luiz training strongly.
The two defenders have been missing with hamstring injuries, but both are in contention to face Bayern Munich. Luiz has not featured since April 15, while England international Cahill has missed the last five games with a similar problem.
“I’ve been trying different options in training,” Di Matteo said. ”We will put some reserve team players on the bench, into the squad, and just figure out what to do.”
Meanwhile, Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger believes Chelsea’s defeat to United in Moscow will provide them with extra incentive.
Schweinsteiger says players such as Ashley Cole, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba will all be viewing the final against Bayern as their last chance to taste European success, due to their advancing years.
And the 27-year-old says this will make the Stamford Bridge-outfit dangerous opponents.
“Those players who were in Moscow for the final will have the extra motivation,” Schweinsteiger said. ”They will be the most dangerous, as they know maybe it is their last chance to try to win the title they unfortunately lost there. Players like Lampard, Drogba, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien.
“Drogba is a player who can get a goal out of nothing. He is probably the most dangerous.”
How do you think it will go?