MUNICH – Roberto Di Matteo hopes that Bayern Munich’s home advantage will work against them as he scents a “great opportunity” for Chelsea to make history in Saturday’s final.
He cites Arrigo Sacchi and Dino Zoff among those who have helped fashion his outlook on the game and on Saturday Roberto Di Matteo can emulate those illustrious names in winning European silverware as a coach.
Success against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League final, and with it Chelsea’s much-desired first continental crown, would leave Di Matteo with a particularly convincing case to be appointed as the club’s permanent manager, given the former Blues midfielder has already guided them to the FA Cup this month.
Standing in his way, however, are a Bayern team driven by a desire to win the competition in front of their own fans in Munich where they have won all seven of their European matches this season, including a 2-0 group-stage victory against Premier League champions Manchester City.
“I know a lot of people are speculating because of Bayern’s last game [a 5-2 German Cup final loss to Borussia Dortmund], but you don’t assess a team over just one match,” Di Matteo, who succeeded André Villas-Boas on 4 March, told UEFA.com.
“They’re a fantastic team, they have some excellent players, and it’s going to be a tough game. That’s what you expect when you’re in the Champions League final.”
That Bayern are playing in such familiar surroundings, at their Futball Arena Munich, has been one of the prevailing topics of discussion in the build-up to the showpiece, yet Di Matteo is unconvinced as to whether it will afford the Bundesliga runners-up a competitive edge.
He said: “”I have been asked this question before and I’m not sure if it will be like having home advantage. It could go either way. If you look at it from another angle, maybe it will bring added pressure. “It’s difficult to say whether it will or not.”
While Bayern will likely have the majority of the crowd behind them, they, like their opponents, have a clutch of players suspended.
The return to fitness of centre-backs David Luiz and Gary Cahill, who both trained this week for the first time following respective hamstring injuries, will be of particular relief to Di Matteo with defenders John Terry and Branislav Ivanović among two of the four Chelsea players ruled out of the final.
“We have a good squad, a squad that has actually carried us so far because we have been dealing with three competitions,” added Di Matteo, also without the banned Ramires and Raul Meireles.
“We have tried to achieve all our targets and everybody that has played and filled in has been excellent. So again we will make use of our squad and I’m sure that whoever will play will give 100%.”
For the likes of Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, all of whom started the 2008 UEFA Champions League final defeat by Manchester United, the encounter affords them a second chance to gain a winners’ medal.