UEFA Champions League final preview: Bayern Munich v Chelsea

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bayern Munich v Chelsea
Allianz Arena
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Sky Sports HD1, ESPN and Soccer HD1 TV
 BBC Radio 5
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Matches 5, R2, Y24)


                        Fifth European Cup? : Bookies heavily favour Bayern Munich to beat Chelsea

Bayern Munich Team News

Bayern Munich will be missing defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo, along with defenders Holger Badstuber and David Alaba due to suspension.

Alaba’s absence means that the Bavarians have a serious conundrum at left-back to solve. Diego Contento could be the straight replacement for him but the 22-year-old has featured in only five Bundesliga games this season. Jupp Heynckes may also resort to Rafinha, bringing him at right-back and shifting Lahm to the left side of the defence.

At centre-back, there is another big question. The manager has a tough choice to make between Daniel van Buyten and Antoliy Tymoshchuk considering the unavailability of Holger Badstuber.

Replacing Luiz Gustavo alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger is a similar headache for Heyneckes. If Tymoshchuk plays alongside Jerome Boateng at the centre, then Toni Kroos will be employed in a deeper role with Thomas Müller, operating in the hole behind Mario Gomez.

However, If Heyneckes decides to hand van Buyten his first start (at centre-back) in four months, then Tymoshchuk will be deployed in the defensive midfield role - a very like-for-like swap for Gustavo.

       Tough Luck John: John Terry is one of the four Chelsea players who will miss the final due to suspension

Chelsea Team News

Chelsea will be also missing a number of key players, with defenders John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic, and midfielders Ramires and Raul Meireles suspended for the showpiece in Munich.

But the good news for Chelsea fans is the probable return of Gary Cahill and David Luiz. The duo has been training strongly and is expected to start at the heart of the Chelsea defence.

However, if things don’t go according to plans for caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, Michael Essien might drop back from midfield into defence. In extreme situations, Chelsea may also require the services of the 22-year-old Sam Hutchinson who returned to action recently having recovered from a knee injury that led to his retirement in 2010.  

Among the suspended players, the player who will be the hardest to replace is Ramires. The 25-year-old’s pace, energy and work-rate were instrumental in the Blues’ sensational 3-2 semi-final win over reigning European champions Barcelona. If Florent Malouda fails to recover in time, Daniel Sturridge and Salomon Kalou are expected to start on the flanks.

Despite Fernando Torres’s fine form at the back end of the season, Didier Drogba appears to be an automatic choice up front. The former Marseille attacker’s strength and aerial prowess will be crucial if Chelsea are to cause problems to the Bavarian giants. Torres’s pace can be used in the later stages if the game is stretched on.

Bayern Munich (Probable, 4-2-3-1): Neuer; Rafinha, Boateng, van Buyten, Lahm; Tymoshchuk, Schweinsteiger; Ribery, Kroos, Robben; Gomez

Chelsea (Probable, 4-2-3-1): Cech; Bosingwa, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Sturridge, Mata, Kalou; Drogba

Pulaha Chaudhuri’s prediction: Bayern Munich 1 Chelsea 2

Follow Pulaha Chaudhuri on Twitter @pulaha_S_P 

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