Attack against defence in Allianz Arena

Normally, this space is reserved for articles related to Spanish La Liga, but with the league seasons over, there is the small issue of UEFA Champions League final still to solve.

Normally, this space is reserved for articles related to Spanish La Liga, but with the league seasons over, there is the small issue of UEFA Champions League final still to solve.

It will not occur that often that no Spanish club will be involved in a UEFA Champions League final, but we’ll take it. It’s not Real Madrid versus Barcelona as many expected, instead it’s Bayern Munich versus Chelsea.

Believe me when I say that not very many predicted this final, especially at the quarterfinal stage, but because the beautiful game is not so straightforward, Saturday’s final in the magnificent Allianz Arena in Munich, gives us an unlikely matchup.

Bayern finished runners up to Borussia Dortmund in both the Bundesliga and the German Cup, while Chelsea finished sixth in the English Premier League but won FA Cup in a season that promised so little if anything at one stage and led to the dismissal of Portuguese manager Andres Boas-Villas. 

For finishing one point behind my beloved Newcastle United, Chelsea must win the final for any chance of playing in the competition next season, but most significantly Roman Abromovich’s men will be seeking to avoid becoming the sixth English team to lose a Champions League final in the last seven years.

Bayern are appearing in their ninth final. They have won four titles, and their most recent was in 2001 when they beat Spanish side Valencia in the final. 

Their most recent appearance, however, was only two years ago when, under Louis van Gaal, lost to Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. 

This is only the second time Chelsea will be appearing in the final. They lost on penalties to Manchester United in the 2008 final under caretaker manager Avram Grant, who took over during the season after Mourinho’s contract was terminated under mysterious circumstances. 

However, one thing that favours them is the fact that the London club has had a recent string of success in the competition and has advanced to the semi-finals in six of the last nine seasons albeit under five different managers.  Actually, they go into Saturday’s final under another caretaker manager, Roberto Di Mateo.

Forget about the usual, “I told you sos” that most football fans tend to come up with whenever the near-impossible happen, nobody under the sun could have predicted in December or thereabout that Chelsea, leave alone Di Matteo would be contesting the Champions League final this weekend. 

Sacked by West Bromwich Albion in February 2011 and subsequently rejected by Birmingham City him in favour of Chris Hughton to manage the club in the Championship (English second division) for the concluding season, Di Matteo, a former Chelsea player rejoined the club as an assistant manger to AVB last summer.

Now here he is on the verge of making history as the first coach to lead the club to their first Champions League triumph albeit on the back of some real determined performances, especially in the quarterfinal return leg against Napoli and in both legs of the semi-final clashes against favourites Barcelona.

We all know how both teams reached the final and we probably know how both teams are going to approach the final game on Saturday night (20:45 local time), but we all don’t know what the outcome will be in a game that is highly likely to pit attack against defence.

 

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