The Allianz Arena will the scene of European football’s showpiece event come 19 May as the two clubs clash for the right to be called kings of Europe.
Bookies have Bayern Munich as favourites ahead of the match although the pervading feeling going into Munich’s final is that Chelsea have the look of champions especially given how the Blues have cemented their place in the 2012 final.
So where will the match be won and where will it be lost. Read on to find out…
Bayern Munich’s Record vs English Clubs
What is it like? Well, the short answer is pretty good. The Bavarians have done well in recent years when playing against English opposition and in fact, beat Saturday’s opponents Chelsea the last time the Blues were in Munich.
That was in the 2004/2005 season were Feliz Magath’s Bayern side came from 2-1 down to win 3-2 in the second-leg although they were still dumped out of the competition in the last eight after a 6-5 aggregate defeat.
Still, Bayern fans would be keen to recall a 2-1 win over Manchester United in 2010 after trailing for much of the match and in 2000/2001 second group stage, the 22-times German champions beat Arsenal (1-0) before overcoming Manchester United in the quarter-final second-leg (2-1) as they shot themselves to a fourth European Cup success.
Chelsea Have Struggled Against German Clubs
Much unfancied after a terrible showing away to Napoli in the last 16 first-leg, Chelsea’s peregrination to the final has surprised most, and for good reason.
The last time the FA Cup winners harboured serious ambitions of winning the whole thing was way back in 2009 when they were harshly eliminated on the away goals rule by Barcelona (remember Andres Iniesta and Tom Henning Ovrebo?!).
Since then Chelsa have been sent packing by Europe’s elite clubs including, Inter Milan in 2010, Manchester United (2011) and Liverpool in 2007 and 2005.
Yes, Roberto Di Matteo’s men eliminated holders Barcelona (3-2 on agg), but a one-off game against the hosts – for that is what Bayern Munich are – will be equally, if not more tough than the Barcelona double-header.
Can the Blues rouse themselves up one more time and become the first London club to lift the famous jug-eared trophy?
Chelsea and Bayern Munich – Defences
It goes without saying that Chelsea’s defence can sometimes resemble a bullet-proof armoured patriot. The defensive masterclass at the Camp Nou was testament to that.
Rampaging full-backs Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa accompanied by centre-back duo Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry have enough quality to hold together a fine defensive unit.
These include aerial bombardments and strength (Mario Gomez), movement and trickery (Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavazzi), and of course the best player on the planet at the moment (Lionel Messi).
This being so, it may well take an enormous effort on the part of Bayern striker Mario Gomez just to test the in-form Petr Cech – helped of course by the fact that Terry and Ivanovic are suspended whilst David Luiz and Gary Cahill are touch-and-go.
Bayern on the other hand reduced free scoring Real Madrid to just three goals over two matches but will be without the ever impressive Holger Badstuber, Alaba and in midfield Luis Gustavo.
The makeshift centre-back pairing will thus prove crucial but as events in the German Cup final proved, at best Bayern’s defence are solid enough. However, at worse it can resemble football’s very own version of Laurel and Hardy. This could prove crucial.
Bayern Munich vs Chelsea – Midfield
Both sides’ midfield are encapsulated by the presence of two particular creative midfielders. For Bayern Munich it is Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, whereas for Chelsea it is Juan Mata and Frank Lampard.
Behind them stands a more functional, and efficient unit of players. Bayern’s penchant for attacking football could see them being picked off on the counter-attack as Lampard spins into the vacated hole.
To counter this, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes could be tempted to get combative midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (in the absence of Luis Gustavo) to sit and destroy the chain he provides to the Chelsea frontline.
This being so, Bayern’s ball retention ability will be inimical to the outcome with the onus being on Robben, Ribery and Kroos to do something magic when the opportunity presents itself.
A mazy dribble or a left-footed strike is all it could take – just ask Real Madrid, Marseille or FC Basle.
Strikers for Chelsea and Bayern Munich
When comparing the striking options, Chelsea’s seems to preponderate mainly due to the presence of Didier Drogba.
The prolific Ivorian revels on such occasions and has a history of producing big moments in big matches. His presence up top will unnerve a nervy Bayern defence in what could well be his Chelsea swansong.
On the other hand, take Gomez out of Bayern Munich and you have a team devoid of a predatory finisher. Ivica Olic and Takashi Usami (on loan from Gamba Osaka) on the Bayern bench are hardly the most fearsome of opponents.
Crucially, Chelsea’s flexibility means that should they score first, expect the Blues to drop deeper and depending on what time they score, look to shut up shop.
Having said that, Bayern are one of the Champions League’s top goalscorers this season and have the ability to penetrate against any defence – especially when spurred on by the Allianz Arena crowd.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-3 Chelsea. A tough one to call, and going on logic the scales tip towards the Germans.
Yes, Bayern eliminated Real Madrid, but the feeling emanating from the opposition camp is that 2012 is Chelsea’s time. Call it luck, destiny or a fine Italian send-off, we tip the Blues for the upset.
Readers are also encouraged to read: Bayern Munich vs Chelsea: Champions League Final Preview