What: Champions League Final
Who: Bayern Munich vs Chelsea
When: Saturday 19th May, 2012, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

Unprecedented Feat

A Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea looked a long shot back when the competition’s real business swung into action last September. Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid were tipped to dominate, with Manchester United tipped to be in the mix, but Bayern Munich have been impeccable.

For the Bavarians, this is their second Champions League final in three years, and while die Roten missed out in 2010 against a Jose Mourinho-inspired Inter, the  side’s prospects appear to be much brighter this time around – especially as Bayern Munich are the first side to host the final in the competition’s new format.

There is also the matter of a highly potent attacking line which is often capable of swamping opponents, as Manchester United’s conquerors Basel found out to their cost in the Round of 16, with a 7-0 thrashing at the Allianz Arena.

However, the Bavarians’ inspirational midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger stressed that opponents Chelsea should not be taken lightly, with the Blues keen to make up for Champions League disappointment in 2008.

“Those players like [Frank] Lampard, [Didier] Drogba, [Ashley] Cole and [Michael] Essien, who were in Moscow for the final, will have extra motivation. They will be the most dangerous, they know maybe it is their last chance to try and win it”, warned the German international.

Potential Dilemma

Would Chelsea have booked a final berth had it not been for interim manager Roberto Di Matteo? It looks unlikely, with the Blues heading for meltdown under 34-year-old Portuguese boss Andre Villas-Boas. The Italian has completely transformed the side since taking the mantle and the club’s dumping out of Barcelona in the semi-final will live long in the memory.
The former West Bromwich Albion manager has had a great say in Chelsea securing continental competition next season – albeit in the Europa League at this stage – as well as this campaign’s FA Cup victory – their fourth in the last six seasons.

While Bayern Munich are viewed as favourites going into this game, Chelsea Player of the Season Juan Mata is confident that his side will have chances to come out on top, while warning that he has been impressed with the German giants.

“It doesn’t matter who they [Bayern Munich] are playing, they kept possession against Real Madrid and their full-backs are always helping to attack with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben; Mario Gomez can shoot with both feet, and they are at home”, said the Spaniard, adding: “But I think we will have our chances to win."

The outcome of the Champions League final will have a great say on the future of Di Matteo as Chelsea boss. His side might have seen off Barcelona over two legs in the semi-final, but at a very costly price, as they now have four key players – including club skipper John Terry – suspended for this clash.

Nevertheless, there would be a certain sense of fate being fulfilled if, for the first time since Roman Abramovich took over the club, their Champions League participation is secured not by excelling in the Premier League, but by winning the European Cup the Russian craves.

Recent form

Bayern Munich:
Bayern Munich 2-0 VfB Stuttgart (28/04; Bundesliga)
1.FC Koln 1-4 Bayern Munich (05/05; Bundesliga)
Borussia Dortmund 5-2 Bayern Munich (12/05; DFB Pokal)

Liverpool 1-2 Chelsea (05/05; FA Cup)
Liverpool 4-1 Chelsea (08/05; Premier League)
Chelsea 2-1 Blackburn Rovers (13/05; Premier League)

Key absences

Bayern Munich: Breno; David Alaba (suspended); Luiz Gustavo (suspended); Holger Badstuber (suspended)

Chelsea: Florent Malouda; John Obi Mikel; David Luiz (doubt); Gary Cahill (doubt); John Terry (suspended); Branislav Ivanovic (suspended); Raul Meireles (suspended); Ramires (suspended)

Players to watch

Bayern Munich – Arjen Robben: For the Dutch winger, this is not purely business – it is also personal. Having defeated his previous employers Real Madrid in the previous round, he now has the chance to damage another one of his former sides. Robben will be keen to win his first Champions League after finishing as runners-up in 2010 and the Dutchman has the ability to swing this game Bayern Munich’s way.

Chelsea – Ashley Cole: One player who has continued to put in a shift for the Blues whatever the circumstances is Ashley Cole. Against Bayern Munich’s attacking prowess, the left back might be confined for large amounts of time to his own half as he attempts to nullify the threat posed by Arjen Robben and Phillip Lahm. And Chelsea’s loss of Terry and Ivanovic to suspension means Cole needs to lend his experience to the backline throughout.

Match Prediction

This final has already lost some of its spark with the absence of names such as Badstuber, Terry and Ramires. At the Allianz Arena, Bayern Munich’s attacking force will mean that the Bavarians will dictate proceedings, forcing Chelsea into their own half waiting for a counter-attack chance. The Pensioners are heavily depleted, especially at the back, and that could make them pay the ultimate price on the biggest night of all. Bayern Munich 2-0 Chelsea.

The Champions League final could be a thriller. It’s Bayern Munich v Chelsea. Who do you think will win? Make sure you visit OLBG for tips and to compare the current odds and betting markets available at all the important bookmakers.