Bayern Munich v Chelsea preview
Published: 19.05.12 / Written by: David Gold
It is the final few would have predicted at the start of April.
No-one really gave Chelsea a chance, except for Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Leo Messi and Alexis Sanchez, who between themselves contrived to miss enough gilt edged chances to win several games against the Premier League outsiders.
Chelsea's ultra defensive system was a sort of catenaccio, except their counter attacks seemed to consist of only Ramires and Didier Drogba. In the first leg the former set up the latter for the only goal and in the return Frank Lampard played a through ball from deep for Ramires to score what was in effect the decisive goal in the tie.
For Bayern, they were less fortunate to get this far. They more than matched Real Madrid and were worthy of their place in the final at their home ground, the first time a team has achieved that feat in the Champions League era. Now they hope to be the first team to win the competition at home this century.
To do so, they will hope that Mario Gomez is at his best, but they can also boast Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery's skilful wing play. Bayern also have a defence that has been up and down this season. At points it has been brilliant, particularly early in the season when they built a commanding lead in the Bundesliga. But a mid season blip cost them, and now the Champions League is their saving grace.
Nonetheless, with Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer, Bayern have more solid foundations than Barcelona had when they faced Chelsea. Drogba will find it harder to get the better of the Bayern defence here, whilst their midfield is also tough. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller will be supported by the industrious Luis Gustavo, and they will make life difficult for Chelsea's ageing midfield.
Bayern are a little like Tottenham Hotspur tactically. They have no obvious weakness in the side, and tend to use two wide wingers to create space for a forward and central midfielders charging on to exploit, with a solid defensive unit behind them. They also work best when at optimum fitness and with their strongest team. Yes, this goes for most teams, but more for Tottenham, and Bayern, than most.
Chelsea on the other hand are weakened. They won't have John Terry, whose cowardly knee in the back of Sanchez in Barcelona cost him a place here, whilst Ramires is another costly absentee through suspension, as are Branislav Ivanovic and others. Ramires in particular will be a huge miss. His running and harrying has been pivotal to Chelsea's success of late, as he has denied skilful wingers the opportunity to hurt Chelsea out wide, where Di Matteo cannily noted they were weak. Without that protection, Robben and Ribery could run amok, and deliver Bayern the glory their home support will so crave.