Bayern, Chelsea Chasing European Glory in Champions League Final
Bayern Munich heads into the Champions League final against Chelsea at its own stadium as a strong favorite to win a fifth European Cup, a title that could make up for its failures in domestic competitions.
Chelsea won the FA Cup but had a disappointing Premier League season. It is missing four important players through suspension and is guided by a temporary manager.
Its best hope of turning the tables on Bayern is striker Didier Drogba, who could benefit from the fact that three regular Bayern defenders are also suspended for Saturday's final at Allianz Arena.
"It's only the second time we've reached a final for Chelsea, so we're going to do everything to go there and give everything," Drogba said.
Bayern is the first team to contest a Champions League final at its own stadium, and even Chelsea's players are willing to acknowledge that's a massive advantage for the German club.
"We are not the favorites of the game, we are playing away," Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech said. "It is very rare when you have the home team playing in the home stadium, using the home dressing room, so I think the advantage goes to Bayern Munich because of that. But we know we have a chance and we will fight for it."
Under the old Champions Cup format, Real Madrid won at home in 1957, Inter Milan won at home in 1965, and AS Roma lost at home in 1984.
Franck Ribery doesn't even want to entertain the idea of Bayern losing in front of its home fans. After a long and taxing season, he said the team will muster every last bit of energy to win.
"Lose? That's not possible. And if we are dead after the game, then we are dead," the Bayern winger said.
But Bayern must regroup after a humiliating 5-2 loss in the German Cup final to Borussia Dortmund, the team that also snatched the Bundesliga title.
A loss in the final game of the season would leave Bayern without a trophy for the second straight year.
Arjen Robben, Bayern's other star winger, said the losses against Dortmund have only served to motivate the side even more than usual ahead of the "match of our lives."
Robben and Ribery spoke on Thursday, one month after their dressing-room clash at halftime of the home semifinal against Real Madrid. Ribery punched Robben in an argument over who should have taken a free kick.
The feud was reportedly settled, Bayern went on to eliminate Madrid on penalties in the second leg and Robben decided to extend his contract with Bayern.
"We can only win together," Ribery said.
Since this is their only chance to end the season with a trophy, Robben said his teammates were more motivated than in 2010 when it lost the Champions League final to Inter Milan.
"Then, we had a successful season behind us," Robben said. "We had two titles and we were in a good mood. Now, this is the only thing we can win. That's more of a stimulant. We have to win the title."
Ribery is equally determined.
"We must not even think about it (defeat)," he said. "If we win the Champions League, then we can forget about not winning the league or the cup, nobody will care about that."
Bayern will be without three suspended defenders — David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luiz Gustavo.
"I hope we can win because then they can forget that they couldn't play," said Ribery, who was suspended for the 2010 final.
If it wins, Bayern will join Liverpool on five titles. Only Real Madrid and AC Milan have more.
Chelsea, seeking its first European Cup, has four key players uspended — captain John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles.
Bayern has won 14 of its past 15 Champions League matches, including seven straight at home, whereas Chelsea has only one win on the road this season. The London club, however, will be full of confidence after eliminating defending champion Barcelona in the semifinals and then winning the FA Cup.
"It's nice to know that we beat Barcelona. But we're clever enough to know that if you lose the final, people quickly forget who you beat in the semifinals," midfielder Frank Lampard said. "For Chelsea, it would be the greatest achievement for sure."
Lampard said overcoming the absence of the suspended players will be a "huge challenge" — especially since a makeshift defense will have to deal with Bayern striker Mario Gomez, whose 12 goals in the competition trail only Lionel Messi's 14.
"Gomez is a powerhouse. His goal record is amazing, his all-around strength and ability. We have to be on our game to stop them but I'm confident we've got the players to do it," Lampard said. "We need to show the spirit we showed in Barcelona. Hopefully, we'll have more ball because Barcelona dominated possession, but if we have that spirit then we have the ability and individuals to win the game."
Defender David Luiz looks set to recover from a hamstring injury in time to line up for Chelsea.
"This is the best game in the world for big teams and I am so happy to play this final," Luiz said. "All the players in the world want to play this game, and me too. I want to play, I'm counting the days and the minutes."
Chelsea interim coach Roberto Di Matteo is hoping Luiz and Gary Cahill both recover from injuries to fill gaps in his defense. Luiz is so confident he will be fit to play that his parents will fly to Germany to watch the match.
Unlike his players, though, Di Matteo isn't so sure the venue will be to Bayern's advantage.
"It may be because they know a little bit the environment and the pitch," Di Matteo said. "But on the other hand, it may be a little bit more pressure."
Cahill, who was selected Wednesday for England's European Championship squad, is confident he will be fit to line up alongside Luiz after also struggling with a hamstring injury.
"I always had the goal to be fit for this game and thankfully it has healed quickly," Cahill said. "We have spent every day trying to get it right and the work has paid off. With the training this week under my belt I should be ready to go."