May 14, 2012

Champions League Final - My Bold Prediction

With the Champions League Final this Saturday, the pre-match hype is increasing as the match gets closer. Both teams have faced problems with their respective domestic leagues, and this is the last chance to mark the season as a success. These teams have both had to overcome a number of obstacles to reach this far, and despite their respective setbacks, they both should prove a strong threat for one another for different reasons.

Home Town Favorites
Bayern is under immense pressure to win this one at home in the Allianz Arena. This is the first time that a club has hosted its own UEFA Champions League final, and there is a high expectation that being at home gives die roten a mental advantage. At home during the regular season, Bayern have drawn once (0:0, FSV Mainz 05) and lost twice (both 0:1, Borussia Dortmund & Borussia Mönchengladbach). Despite their great home form, the club is surely bitter about losing the Bundesliga title and Deutscher Pokal to Borussia Dortmund, and this final is the club's last chance to mark the season as a success.

Bayern will be without key defensive support due to suspension. David Alaba - a wildcad who primarily filled in at left back this season, Holger Badstuber - the German youth who has grown to be a stalwart defender for the Bavarians, and Luiz Gustavo - an explosive central defensive anchor, are all out because of yellow cards. The fate of center back Daniel Van Buyten is still up in the air; he played in a reserve match, but is that enough match fitness for him to start in the final? With Philip Lahm sure to start at fullback, the opposite flank could fall to Rafinha, Diego Contento or Danijel Pranjic. Next to Jerome Boateng we may see central defensive midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk or a newly returned Daniel Van Buyten. Fucking drams

Having been to the final in 2010 and being soundly beaten by Inter 2:0, Bayern hope to learn not only from their mistakes but from their time as a team together. The bulk of their current team was together for that loss, and it will be interesting to see how this match compares to the former with the addition of Franck Ribéry to the lineup.

Last Chance Blues
Finishing in 6th this season following the departure of André Villas-Boas. His replacement, Roberto Di Matteo, has enjoyed reasonable success, but the coming match will not be without pressure. While he was able to steer the club to an FA cup victory (2:1 over Liverpool), victory is vital should he hope to step up into a full-time position as manager.

The suspensions of John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires, and Raul Meireles weakens Chelsea in two of the areas where they're the strongest: the center of the pitch and the attacking third. The potential absence of Gary Cahill and David Luiz could greatly hinder Chelsea's defensive resilience. Di Matteo in his second leg match against Barcelona at one point had 6 men back to break up Barça's rapid ball movement. Any team that can take down a giant of the game like Barcelona should never be counted out, but do they have all the right pieces to win this match?

Finally, for Chelsea, the result of this match could mean a great financial setback. Last season, finishing in the quarter finals brought the club in almost €45 million. With the season over and Chelsea out of the league via qualification, the Blues' only chance to remain in the competition next season is to win it all. Their league setbacks could come back to haunt them should they fail to complete this task.

My bold prediction is as follows: Bayern will win the match. It will be a scrappy contest, with the deciding goal coming from a penalty kick. Final Score: 3:2

No comments: