Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Bayern Munich vs Chelsea: Pre-Match Analysis

                                                By Carlos Zimmermann

May 19th will start just like any other day for most of us, but for the selected few this day would be their destiny, a long and arduous path that started for Bayern on the 17th of August in the play-offs with a 3-0 aggregate win over Zenit. For Bayen all roads lead home, and that is where the heart is. The heart of this club beats for the symbolic legendary status the UEFA Champions League brings. Go to Munich and you will see how passionate the fans are and how they still hold the team of the 70's in such high regard. “With the right kind of eye you can see the high watermark the place where the waves broke and rolled back" Nostalgia is wonderful but we are in the here and now so lets take a look at the 2012 final and how the teams compare.

Chelsea are shock finalists, not because of the talent they can put out on the pitch, but because of what they do behind closed doors: there a lot of problems in that glass house of flying stones. Di Matteo has done well to steady the ship but I believe it had more to do with the players having more respect for themselves then they did for the old boss. They were trained to play a certain way by AVB: he changed their style and Terry didn't like this, you could see him taking matters into his own hands in games and dragging Chelsea's defensive high line back (as he has a lack of pace and likes to defend in his own box). This opened up a massive gap between the back line and supporting line. Di Matteo's first port of call was to pander to the player's requests and play deeper, which got the antagonists on his side, with the rest of the team following suit. He's a Chelsea boy, and this has only benefited him: he is young, enthusiastic and seems like a winner. No matter what happens, Roberto seems like he will let the chips fall where they may.

Chelsea go into the final, missing the dynamic Ramires and the calmness of Raul Meireles (whose trademark rocket of a shot will be missed). They will sadly play no part as they picked up two yellow cards in previous rounds.  I do not feel that this should come into play in the second leg of the semi's, because missing the biggest game of your career for picking up a yellow in an intense game does seem harsh. However, experts disagree, stating that this will cause players to kick out. I'd like to argue that this would not be the case, as you still have the risk of two yellow's or a straight red. In such games, the top players make professional fouls which shows an understanding of spatial awareness within the game (as long as, of course, you are not causing injury). Their best defender, Ivanovic, is also suspended.

The news of Cahill and Luiz returning to training this week would have been music to the ears of the Blues supporters. Drogba has to start, as his record in finals is fantastic, he is a big game player (if you take out the Champions League game against Manchester United in which he “saw red” twice!) I am intrigued to see how Di Matteo will approach the game: He may give Kalou a start on the right to help track the runs of Ribery along with Torres, Juan Mata and Drogba  in an attacking front 4, which would be very bold agaist Bayern, as the exciting Borussia Dortmund showed (beating Bayern in five consecutive matches). If you place Bayern under intense pressure and attack with pace, they can be hurt, but then again, Chelsea does not hold in their pack the same style of players that Jurgen Klopp has at his disposal with Dortmund.

Bayern have their own problems, with both Alaba -Austrian player of the year- and Badstuber missing. This means Contento is likely to start at left back. Things are so bad defensively  that Tymoshchuk may have to drop into central defence from midfield as Daniel Van Buyten has only recently returned from injury, so he may only make the bench. Sadly Gustavo will play no part and he is essential to Bayern winning the ball in the middle of the park. 
Kroos could drop back and play in a double pivot next to the brilliant Schweinsteiger, which means we are likely to see Muller play in the whole. Mario Gomez has had the best campaign of his career in the Champions League, netting 12 goals, which is only two short of the Ballon D'or winner, Messi. Gomez is a modest man who put his achievements down to the hard work of his team-mates. Chelsea's centre-backs will have to work hard all night to keep the “German Bomber” at bay in the box. Chelsea know all too well what they should expect from “Robbery”  (This the nickname Bayern fans give to the two wild-cards in their pack: Franck Ribery and Arjen Robbon.)

The Allianz Arena opened in 2005 and holds 66,000 not including box seats, which brings the number to nigh on 70,000. The architecturally unique arena was constructed in under three years, and it boasts 4 changing rooms for players. Bayern will be in their home changing room for this final with both teams being allocated 17,500 tickets (with 9,000 going on general sale).

Both teams have players who can turn a game with one fluid movement. Although both defences are depleted compared to their usual standard, they do boast two of the greatest goal-keepers in the world and they may have to play to their full potential to get their giant hands on the coveted prize.

When the sun goes down, and the players march out to the final resting place of this years Champions League, and the starting music makes the hairs on the neck stand up in anticipation for the battle that will commence, the Arena will not light up from the lights outside it, but from the stars that shine bright inside of it too. 

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