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Rediff.com  » Sports » Where the Champions League final will be won and lost

Where the Champions League final will be won and lost

Last updated on: May 18, 2012 17:49 IST

Where the Champions League final will be won and lost

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A look at how the Chelsea and Bayern Munich teams compare tactically and where the game might be won or lost ahead of the Champions League final at the Allianz Arena.

GOALKEEPERS

Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer, competing in his first Champions League final after reaching the last four with Schalke 04 last season, has been outstanding in Europe and saved two penalties in Bayern's shootout with Real Madrid in the semi-finals.

But an erratic performance in their 5-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup final last Saturday, including a blunder that led to the fifth goal, will have done little to boost the Germany international's confidence.

His opposite number, Petr Cech, like the Chelsea team in general, had an erratic first half of the season but has regained his old form in recent months.

He played a key role in the semi-final second leg in Barcelona, producing several brilliant saves as the Londoners withstood a fierce attacking onslaught at the Nou Camp after being reduced to 10 men following the first-half dismissal of John Terry.

Image: Manuel Neuer


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DEFENCE

Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes will need to reshuffle his backline with leftback David Alaba and central defender Holger Badstuber suspended and Anatolyi Tymoshchuk looks set to partner Jerome Boateng in the heart of defence instead of Badstuber.

Tymoshchuk has featured in 10 Champions League games this season but almost exclusively in the role of a holding midfielder and his collaboration with Boateng could prove decisive.

Heynckes is also likely to leave captain Philipp Lahm on the right so as not to break up the pace on that side as the Germany defender combines so effectively with Dutch winger Arjen Robben.

Youth product Diego Contento is favoured to get the nod ahead of Brazilian Rafinha and slip into Alaba's left-back position.

Contento has only played once this season in this competition and lacks the offensive nature of the 19-year-old Austrian, who has enjoyed a sensational season.

There are major doubts surrounding Chelsea's central defenders David Luiz and Gary Cahill, who will be thrust back into the side despite having been out for several weeks because of injury.

Interim coach Roberto Di Matteo has no option but to include the pair on Saturday with Terry and Branislav Ivanovic banned.

The dangerous Mario Gomez has scored 12 Champions League goals this season and David Luiz and Cahill will have their work cut out to nullify his attacking threat.

Image: Chelsea's David Luiz


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MIDFIELD

With Luiz Gustavo suspended for Bayern, Toni Kroos will slip into a holding midfield position alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger with Thomas Mueller taking over an offensive midfield position.

Schweinsteiger's perfomance could have an impact on the Bayern game with the midfielder, despite his winning spot kick against Real, still feeling the effects of lengthy injury breaks earlier in the season.

Chelsea are without suspended pair Raul Meireles and Ramires but it is the turbo-charged Brazilian they will miss the most.

Ramires has popped up with lots of important goals from the right flank this season and his willingness to track back and support the defence will be tough to replicate.

Under-strength Chelsea will also struggle for alternative options on the left of midfield if Florent Malouda fails to shrug off an injury he sustained last weekend.


Image: Bastian Schweinsteiger


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ATTACK

Gomez ranks second behind Barcelona's Lionel Messi (14) in this season's Champions League goal scoring charts.

His strength in the air and clinical finishing, with either foot, could prove crucial especially latching on to balls from the Bundesliga's best provider Franck Ribery from the left, and Robben on the right.

Di Matteo will again wrestle with the Didier Drogba-Fernando Torres conundrum up front for Chelsea.

The final is likely to be Drogba's swansong for the Stamford Bridge club and the powerful Ivorian can usually be relied upon to produce the goods on the big occasion.

Bayern's defence, however, have been run ragged this season by Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowksi, who is similar to Torres in playing style.

Image: Mario Gomez


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