When the draw for the later
stages of the Champions League opened the way for Barcelona and
Real Madrid to meet in the final in Munich, not many people
would have placed their bets on one involving Bayern Munich and
The prospect of a dream El Clasico played out between the
Spanish giants in Munich seemed highly likely, if not
But German club's semi-final penalty shootout win over Real
and Chelsea's heroic rearguard action in Barcelona has produced
an intriguing showdown to an unpredictable competition.
Bayern's dreams of lifting the trophy in their home stadium
had been at the top of their agenda since before the start of
Chelsea's billionaire Russian owner, Roman Abramovich has
had his eyes on the trophy since he bought the club in 2003,
although even he must have thought the chances of lifting it
this season were slight as their campaign appeared to
disintegrate under coach Andre Villas-Boas.
But after Villas-Boas was sacked in March and replaced by
caretaker Roberto di Matteo, Chelsea's season came alive and
they find themselves on the brink of being crowned European
champions for the first time.
However, they did not recover their league form sufficiently
to finish in the top four and ended sixth, their lowest position
for a decade, which means if they fail to win on Saturday, they
will not be in the Champions League next season.
It is one of the reasons Di Matteo's future is still in
doubt, although he said at his first pre-final news briefing on
Monday: "I am not thinking about myself.
"What is at stake is that we have a chance to bring the
European title home for the first time in this club's history -
and that's all that is important.
"We go into the game with the quality and experience to win
it. I have the motivation to do something extra-ordinary for
this club. This will be a one-shot chance and with all the
problems we have with injuries and suspensions it's causing me a
Chelsea will be without suspended captain John Terry, fellow
defender Branislav Ivanovic and midfielders Ramires and Raul
Meireles. Defenders Gary Cahill and David Luiz could be fit
after injury but midfielder Florent Malouda is 50/50.
Bayern have home advantage but go into the game after losing
5-2 to Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup final last weekend
and also have three players suspended - defensive midfielder
Holger Badstuber, and midfielders David Alaba and Luiz Gustavo.
Only two sides have lifted the European Cup at home: Real
Madrid in 1957 and Inter Milan in 1965, and the last team to
play at home - AS Roma in 1984 - lost on penalties to Liverpool.
Back in the summer club bosses feared even getting to the
Allianz Arena for the showdown would be a long shot after they
were drawn in the "group of death" as club CEO Karl-Heinz
Rummenigge called it alongside Manchester City, Villarreal and
Few would have thought it would be Bayern and Napoli that
went on but Bayern progressed steadily under Jupp Heynckes, in
his third spell at the club and winner of the Champions League
title with Real Madrid in 1998.
Advancing in the Champions League proved an easier task than
imagined, but an injury to Bastian Schweinsteiger and a loss of
form for winger Arjen Robben spelt trouble after the winter
break as champions Dortmund galloped away in the league with
Bayern dropping to second place.
Their domestic loss of form, however, did not spill over
into the Champions League with the Bavarians crushing Basel 7-1
on aggregate to book their quarter-final spot.
Another devastating performance against Olympique Marseille,
where they won both legs 2-0, set up a mouth-watering semi-final
against nine-times winners Real Madrid.
"We have eliminated the Spanish champions and the English
champions," said Bayern sports director Christian Nerlinger this
week. "We have dominated in this competition and this final
overshadows everything else," he said as Bayern hope for a fifth
European Cup success on a glorious night - at home.
Central defender fit enough to play in the Champions League final at Wembley
Bayern Munich unfazed by the need to be more clinical in attack against Borussia Dortmund
Ruud Gullit believes Bayern Munich are in for a shock when they take on Borussia Dortmund
Napoli president denies reports that he has named Rafael Benitez as club's new manager
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010