Roberto Di Matteo's men look to upset the odds again...
In the FA Cup final, Chelsea have already overcome one group of league underachievers who rediscover their self-belief when they detect the whiff of silverware in their nostrils. But that doesn’t mean they can take their hopes of an encore in Germany for granted…
Whereas Stewart Downing, Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy steered Liverpool at Wembley, the rather more menacing trio of Franck Ribery, Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben await at the Allianz Arena, with no John Terry or Branislav Ivanovic to repel them with a well-timed snarl. And though the Blues’ efforts in the FA Cup and Champions League this season make them look like cup specialists, Bayern Munich laugh off Chelsea’s 13 wins in 22 cup matches with 14 in 19 of their own.
Like Chelsea, the maze Bayern navigated to the final wasn’t littered with European giants, yet they outshone the league leaders of the only divisions that are ranked higher than the Bundesliga this year: Manchester City and Real Madrid.
They have also handily saved some of their finest form of a disjointed campaign for the road back to Munich; the semi-final second-leg defeat to Real Madrid was one of just two losses in their last 16 games.
During that period they won a dozen times. Gomez has graced that purple patch with 14 strikes – more than Fernando Torres or Didier Drogba have mustered throughout 2011/12 – while Robben has found the net on 11 occasions.
In addition to competing with that frightening firepower, Chelsea must fight the troubling trend that has seen Premier League teams take it in turns to fall flat on their faces when tackling the Champions League’s final obstacle.
Five of England’s last six Champions League finalists have settled for the runners-up medals. The sole exception was Manchester United in 2007/08, when the statistic was always going to be scuppered as they were confronted by domestic rivals Chelsea.
The six-year spell in which all those near misses occurred also saw Europa League final defeats for Fulham and Middlesbrough.
Even accounting for their 2009/10 failure against Inter, Bayern’s record in one-off showdowns – ahead of this weekend’s German Cup final – offers far more encouragement. They have prevailed in a formidable seven of their eight finals this century.
1. The last two teams to eliminate Barcelona from the tournament went on to lift the trophy (Man United in 2007/08 and Inter in 2009/10).
2. The club with the younger coach has won five of the last six finals. Bayern’s Jupp Heynckes is 26 years older than Roberto Di Matteo.
3. These sides clashed in the 2004/05 quarter-finals. Chelsea won 6-5 on aggregate, thanks to goals by Lampard (3) and Drogba (2).
4. English teams have won the last four England vs Germany CL finals, and by a one-goal margin in the most recent three.