Friday, May 18, 2012

The Champions League Final

Bayern and Chelsea crashed the all Spanish CL final by knocking out Real and Barca in two keenly contested semis. It's left a final that Europe will in all honesty be feeling a little underwhelmed by given the domestic performances of the two sides and the numerous absences from the match due to suspension.

Bayern, 'at home' and clearly the better team will start as strong favourites. Their attacking triumvirate of Ribery, Robben and Gomez (not to mention Thomas Muller) would be a handful for anyone never mind a rookie CL centre back pairing of a barely fit Cahill and Luiz with the every hazardous Phil Bosingwa likely to be lurking somewhere on the right.

Despite the suspensions, Bayern have quality throughout their ranks and there feels an almost Germanic inevitability about the whole proceeding, indeed Bayern should win fairly comfortably one could expect.

The problem however is Chelsea's results in cup competitions under Di Matteo juxtaposed against their league form would indicate some kind of extreme schizophrenia making any logical diagnosis impossible.

Chelsea it seems are a team with something to prove. Lampard, Cole and Cech are rejunivated and Drogba is performing exactly how you would expect a world class 34 year old looking for one last fat contract to perform. Even Fernando Torres, so miserable and marginalised for so long has been reborn with several goals and a new found zest for the the game.

This wave of euphoria has carried Chelsea through a rollercoaster return leg against Napoli, seen off a lively Benfica and then allowed them to do the impossible against Barca. The problem is that the German stereotype doesn't allow much for emotion or nostalgia and a typically stoic and efficient Bayern await them at the Allianz this Saturday.

Whilst Chelsea will feel the script is written for them, Bayern will no doubt feel the same given the final is in their home stadium and whilst Chelsea's heroics will not have gone unnoticed, they will not have caused undue concern but merely ensured more adequate preparation.

The suspensions should hit Chelsea harder than Bayern given the paucity of their squad and the lack of defensive replacements in particular. Chelsea have a chance and certainly still have quality but the bookies are backing Bayern strongly and they are rarely wrong, except when Chelsea played Barcelona - No Nonsense.