Champions League Final 2012 in Munich – a final for Munich?
The Champions League Final 2012 in Munich will take place in a few days. It is for the first time in the history of the Champions League that one of the finalists is going to play the final in its own stadium. The UEFA Champions League, which is its full name, was founded by the UEFA in 1992/93 as a direct successor of the European Champions Clubs’ Cup. Bayern Munich won this cup in the three successive years 1974, 1975 and 1976. What followed was a tough time until 2001, where Munich could win the UEFA Champions League. In 2001, Munich won the final against Valencia in Milan 5:4 via penalty shoot-out. It was in 1999, where Munich had already played against an English team in a Champions League Final. In Camp Nou a memorable match took place against Manchester United. Munich gained the lead through a goal from Mario Basler in the 6th minute. At the end of the match, in minute 90, all supporters, players and officials had already celebrated the title. But Manchester United continued to play focused via Munich´s goal and in minute 91, Teddy Sheringham scored the 1:1, which would have meant overtime. But Munich´s players were shocked in such a manner that in minute 93, only two minutes later, Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored the 2:1, which meant that Manchester United won the title. So therefore, Munich is warned in advance and will keep in mind this match as well. In addition, they will have a close look on their mistakes during the German cup final against Borussia Dortmund connected with an analysis so that such mistakes will never happen again. Chelsea, in contrast, has never won the Champions League or the European Champions Clubs´ Cup up till now. They only won the European Cup Winners‘ Cup in 1971 and 1998. But during the season 2007/08, they played in the pure English final against Manchester United. The match took place in the Olympic Stadium Luschniki in Moscow. Manchester gained the lead through a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo in minute 26. But the Blues could equalise in the last minute of the first half through a goal from Frank Lampard. But in the second half as well as the overtime, no further goals had been scored anymore, which meant that the penalty shoot-out was decisive in identifying the champion. Four out of first five players of each team scored their penalties among them Carlos Tevez, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson for Manchester and Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Salomon Kalou for Chelsea. Cristiano Ronaldo misplayed for Manchester and another big player, John Terry, for Chelsea. The penalty shoot-out was continued then and the next penalty had already been the decisive one for identifying Manchester as the champion. Ryan Giggs scored for Manchester and Nicolas Anelka misplayed for Chelsea.
Now the Blues have their second try to become the champion. There are even some players left from the team of 2008, who are Petr Čech, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba. For sure, John Terry will not be allowed to play due to his red card in the semi-final. But the other four players will surely be on the field since they are normally starters in Chelsea´s team. In addition, Robert di Matteo has to plan without Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires since they are not allowed to play due to yellow cards. But the list of players missing continues for Chelsea since they also have some injured players. But maybe this can also have tactical reasons. Michael Ballack was once faster on the field than it could be assumed due to his injury. But all centre forwards of Chelsea are as fit as a fiddle. So therefore, Di Matteo could try a 4-4-2 with Torres and Drogba as centre forwards. Most of the time Chelsea plays a 4-3-3, what is actually more of a 4-5-1 with Drogba as sole centre forward. Munich also often plays with only one centre forward. As a consequence, Mario Gomez presented the sole centre forward in the first leg against Real Madrid. In the second leg, Mario Gomez was the sole centre forward as well but Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry often entered the penalty area from the outside, which made quick changes to a 4-3-3 system, like Chelsea, possible. As well three players from Munich are not allowed to play within the final due to yellow cards and therefore Holger Badstuber, Luiz Gustavo and David Alaba are missing Coach Jupp Heynckes. So probably Munich will again play a 4-5-1 (4-3-2-1) with Neuer – Lahm, Boateng, Tymoshchuk, Contento – Kroos, Schweinsteiger – Robben, T. Müller, Ribery – Gomez. Chelsea is also going to play a 4-5-1, but this will certainly be played in a more defensive manner compared to Munich. Presumably the following players will be part of Chelsea´s starter: Cech – Bosingwa, Cahill, Luiz, Cole – Mikel, Essien – Kalou, Lampard, Mata – Drogba.
As could be observed during the semi-finals, Chelsea is good in playing an Italian tactic, in which the opponent is able to achieve the penalty area but then there is no chance of scoring a goal or something and the play of the opponent will be completely destroyed. Munich often plays in an offensive manner and neglects the defence. This was the case in the semi-finals against Real Madrid as well as in the German cup final against Borussia Dortmund. But against Chelsea in their own stadium, they have to work harder in order to be successful since they want to become the first team winning the Champions League Title in their own stadium. In their own stadium, Munich could win all seven matches and, in contrast, Chelsea could only win one away game. Even though Munich´s defence allowed many scoring chances in the last matches, they only received 4 goals in 7 matches in contrast to 21 goals they scored. These figures have to be qualified a little bit since Munich solely scored 7 goals in its match against Basle. Chelsea scored only 7 own goals in away games but received 9 goals in 6 matches. Munich had to play a round more than Chelsea since they only achieved the third rank in the previous season of the Bundesliga. Although a final always has its own rules, I think Munich will make it. Additionally national pride is one of the reasons for my decision and that is why I am going to include a victory of Munich for an odd of 1.85 (Interwetten) into my football prediction tips.