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.
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.