Champions League Final – Preview

McMigs here…Ok… here goes nothing…

The thought of a Champions League final tomorrow slaps me, and I’m sure my left-footed colleague too, with delight.  The knockout round draw left many, including myself, dreaming of an all-Spanish final.  Even after the first legs of the semis, it was difficult to imagine a final without a Spanish side.  But here we are and we look forward to an interesting final between two sides desperate for recognition on the European stage. Bayern Munich, of course, has plenty of history to point to, but over a decade drought in the Champions League, a loss in the final only two years ago, a decisive shellacking last week in the German Cup final, and no domestic title leaves the team desperate for this piece of silverware.  Chelsea has had its share of ups and downs this season; lucky for the club, it seems to have hit its form at the most fortuitous of times.  Despite having beaten Liverpool last week in the FA Cup final, due to a tumultuous premier league season, Chelsea need a win tomorrow to secure a spot in next season’s Champions league competition.

Now to the prediction: a 3-2 Bayern Munich victory, perhaps in extra time, but I’m not going to commit to that.

The absence of key players due to the accumulation of cards and moments of madness (read: John Terry’s kneebone is connected to… Alexi) is a driving factor in my prediction.  Given full squads, it would take much more time for me to arrive at a prediction for this one.  However, Chelsea’s missing pieces, Terry, Ivanovic, Meireles, and Ramires, do not bode well for them giving the attacking nature and ferocity of Bayern.  On top of missing Terry, Ivanovic, and Meireles, the Chelsea back line will most likely be composed of the likes of Cahill and David Luiz. Cahill is coming off an injury suffered during the second leg of the semi-final at Barcelona and, frankly, David Luiz has never quite impressed me as a central defender.  I am not confident in the chemistry of these two defenders or the current form of these players coming into this match.  Given the strength of Bayern’s attack, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Chelsea hunker down the way they did against Barcelona.  However, Bayern have that missing piece that Barcelona lacked which makes their attack much more threatening: Mario Gomez (or insert any strong forward over six foot).  Packing your team outside the 18 yard box when the opposition has no real aerial threat is one thing, but adding that aerial threat changes everything.  Just ask Manchester City; I don’t think it was a coincidence that a ten-man QPR squad, stacked three-deep outside their penalty area, was countered with Dzeko and Balotelli.

 On the flip-side, Bayern will be without German international Holger Badstuber, among other players.  However, while a tough blow, I don’t see Bayern’s missing components having as strong an impact as Chelsea’s losses.  For support, I point to the potency of Bayern’s attack relative to that of Chelsea.  The one wild card in this one for me is, Chelsea have their not-so-secret weapon, Didier Drogba.  Drogba has been extremely impressive as of late and, for me, has proven he is the premier lone forward in the game.  Unfortunately, I do not think Drogba can do it all himself, as much as he may try tomorrow.  And without a critical supporting player in Ramires, things will be even more difficult for the Ivorian.

 The last point, which I would be foolish to overlook, is the venue. Bayern will be playing on a comfortable pitch at home and I can’t imagine this working against them.

With that, I’m left with a 3-2 Bayern win.  The absence of key defensive players on both sides, and the attacking nature of an at-home Bayern Munich, lead me to look (and hope) for an open game which will see Bayern come out on top.

Other things I’m looking forward to tomorrow:

  • Lampard and Schweinsteiger battling – It will be interesting to see these two battle it out in the center of the pitch tomorrow. Each have a great history for their clubs and country and it could be a preview of a Euro Cup matchup.
  • Robben/Ribery vs. Cole/Bosingwa – The ability or inability of Chelsea’s outside backs to contain Bayern’s wingers will be central to the outcome of tomorrow’s final.  These matchups should be fun to watch.
  • Fernando Torres – I can only hope rumors are true that may get a start tomorrow. While I am not sure if this would be a good move for the Chelsea manager, I would love to see Torres regain his form and confidence. I’ve been rooting for Torres since going to Chelsea and it’s been difficult to watch him struggle after the wonderful things he produced at Liverpool.

Enjoy!

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One thought on “Champions League Final – Preview

  1. There is something special to be said about Chelsea’s current run of form. Not too long ago, Andre Villa-Boas was sacked and Chelsea looked as if they were in store for the worst season they have enjoyed in a long long time. That being said, Di Matteo stepped into the mix and by some act of wizardry, he has been able to halt Chelsea’s fall from grace and give the team the opportunity to compete for another trophy on top of their FA Cup win over woeful Liverpool. Just being in the final is an accomplishment in itself but Di Matteo knows he is not safe and is not first in line to be the long term (relative term, no one lasts more than a year) manager at Chelsea. He seems to have the backing of his most influential players. Even without some of them on the field today, I am sure that playing and coaching with that kind of desperation can create a winning atmosphere.
    The pressure is high, the stadium will be packed with Bayern Munich fans, the attacking fortitude of Bayern will be weaving through the Chelsea defense. Chelsea has a bend but not break attitude and for me, something says that Chelsea will find a way to advance to a championship. I could see this game end at zeroes and Chelsea taking the cake in a penalty shootout. I could also see El Nino finding the back of the net to continue to quiet the critics of his ridiculously expensive transfer.

    My prediction is a 2-1 Chelsea victory. There will too many holes in a somewhat inexperienced back line although I truly believe they are better off without John Terry. Anyone who sleeps with his teammates wife is not worthy of stepping on the field. Drogba is world class, the uncontainable magician when he is having a great day. Today could be his last in a Chelsea kit and I am sure he wants a glorious sending off. Torres is going to score. Philip Lahm is 5 feet two inches tall. Badstuber is out. Torres is the Spanish Kid. No one messes with a spanish kid at a party because they are scared of all his friends coming after you. Tonight, Torres will find the net. He will celebrate like his outrageous transfer fee was worth it and for a moment, Chelsea fans will believe it as well. Bayern will get on the scoresheet with a brilliant Robben or Ribery run and finish. One of the other is almost guaranteed.

    It doesn’t matter how you look at it. This Champions League Final was not predicted, not really wanted and not the scene for two attacking soccer giants. We are still in for a brilliant game and I am looking forward to the beers after a Chelsea win. Di Matteo’s job will still be lost but at least Chelsea can salvage a little bit more out of a dismal domestic campaign.

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