Ostensibly this is the most difficult match-up to predict. Owing to suspensions, Bayern will be without Holger Badstuber and David Alaba, both of whom would have been likely starters. Unquestionably Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng will be two of the back four but the other two and indeed the permutation will be kept secret until the last minute. The most likely option would be for Bayern to employ defensive midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk at the heart of the defence. This has usually been Bayern's default setting when either of the regular pairing of Boateng and Badstuber has been missing, in part due to Daniel Van Buyten's long-term injury. The Belgian defender is on the comeback trail having missed most of the second half of the season through injury but would be severely lacking any real match fitness. The last defensive spot would then be a straight choice between Rafinha and Diego Contento. Signed only last summer, Brazilian right-back Rafinha has been in and out of the team all season, failing to establish a regular spot in the starting line-up. Naples-born left-back Contento, named after Diego Maradona, is a German under-20 international but has also been unable to secure a starting place. The factors which could affect Jupp Heynckes decision are whether to play Lahm on the right or left and which of the other two would be able to best handle the pressure and responsibility of a Champions League Final. As Lahm prefers to play on the left, and Rafinha is older and more experienced than Contento, it could be the Brazilian who gets the nod.
Rafinha, Boateng, Tymoshchuk and Lahm would form a traditional back four with plenty of width provided by the full-backs. Normally they are able to get forward due to the screening provided in midfield by the defensive-minded Luiz Gustavo but he completes the triumvirate of Bayern players suspended for the final. Bayern will look to allow Boateng to pick up the main Chelsea striker, most probably Didier Drogba, in order to take the pressure off the Ukrainian Tymoshchuk, an accomplished ball-player, but by no means a fierce and combative centre-half. Boateng has been guilty of several glaring mistakes during his first season at Germany's 'Rekordmeister' (Record Champions), mainly attributed to a lack of concentration and positional awareness. Heynckes has worked hard to improve the defensive side of Bayern's game but as was evident in Madrid in the semi-finals, gaps can appear in abundance in a porous central defence. Boateng and Tymoshchuk will need to be on top of their games in order to contain Drogba. On the flanks, much will depend on Chelsea's formation.
Verdict: Lahm and Rafinha should be capable of stopping their opponents and consequently the supply line to Drogba, easing the pressure on Boateng and Tymoshchuk and in turn the burden on the midfield. Advantage Bayern.
They say things come in three's - good or bad - and for the purposes of this article, I'll focus on the good. There's horse racing's Triple Crown, there's American baseball's Triple Crown. The Three Musketeers. Triple word score in Scrabble. I'm sure we can go on all day, but there's one special 'three-some' everyone in Munich is focusing on these days. On Saturday, FC Bayern Munich will be looking to make history and join an elite group of European football clubs if they are to win the UEFA Champions League Final against Inter Milan.
Three titles, or as most football fans say, the "treble",...
Munich, May 23 - There will be a list of items going through each Bayern fan later this afternoon as they cheer their team one last time this season: Madrid. Milito. Mourinho. Milan. I would like to add one more for Bayern "missed opportunities" but there just wasn't a lot to discuss about that during Inter Milan's 2-0 victory in the UEFA Champions League Final in Madrid last night.
There's something about playing a Final in Spain that is becoming a major obstacle for Bayern. From the start, they played well; dominating possession and it looked like their game plan would continue to create...
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