It is widely thought a tall order waits for Chelsea to lift the greatest club trophy to ever grace world football. The odds are split 50/50 but as Petr Cech conceded Bayern Munich as the favourites for hosting the tie in their own back yard, hope remains and faith can be drawn from previous European final.
The conditions Chelsea face entering Saturday’s showdown is preceded by other European ventures set by English teams, and it is from our Premiership peers Liverpool and Manchester United where the blues can attain a vantage point.
Only 3 European cup finals have been contested in a finalist’ home ground, but only one has been won by the visiting team, Liverpool in 1984 against Roma at the Stadio Olympico. The circumstances Liverpool encountered that evening were intoxicated with local hostility, but they had the courage and composure to settle themselves quickly, scoring an early goal before conceding before half time and battling through the second half and extra time to penalties, cueing the Grobelaar spaghetti legs.
The conditions on Saturday won’t be as feisty with an overwhelming home support that liverpool experienced in 1984. But looking to replicate their type of performance early on is imperative. Frustrating Bayern Munich and allowing the pressure to gradually mount from the German crowd will surely have a detrimental impact on their team. Retaining possession in the early stages of the game and closing space down the flanks will be needed to get off to a good, early start.
Since the second leg against Napoli, Chelsea have been afforded the underdog title, allowing the Blues to defend heroically without an overbearing necessity to attack. Disciplined and reclined to the edge of the penalty area against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, the euphoria of that night came at an expense of casualties for the final through suspensions, most notably Ramires, Ivanovic and of course the captain, John Terry.
Fear not as previous finals have allowed teams weakened by the omission of their influential players to prevail and triumph. Dani Alves missed Barcelonas’ victory in 2009 and the treble winning team of Man Utd had Keane and Scholes out for their final against Bayern Munich.
Man United’s late dramatic victory in 1999 resonates with the missing presence of John Terry to be expected on Saturday. The captain is exactly the player needed to galvanise the team and although with the exception of Keane and Scholes, Ferguson had a fruitful squad to select from, it is the bravery and reaction needed to replicate the same outcome.
The German outfit will not have it easy. Although they have the familiarity of expending a season stamping around the turf, they will face the vast reduction of Munich mouths shouting their support, thanks to the UEFA “football family”.
For all the advantages Bayern may have going into the match, the extra additional ingredient of it being a champions league final, a one off, just one game to determine the better team, just ninety minutes to declare the best team in Europe, there is no advantage. Yes there is precedent and tales to tell, but more than anything there will be 11 blue shirts on the pitch and 17,500 blue shirts in the stadium, wanting it more than anything else.