The Blues go into Saturday's final against Bayern Munich as underdogs but are capable of ending their dramatic European journey in glory at the Allianz Arena
By Oliver Platt
It will not be easy, that is for sure. Bayern Munich head into Saturday's Champions League final as the favourites to triumph on home turf and face a Chelsea side missing its leader, John Terry, and one of its stars in Ramires.
Raul Meireles and Branislav Ivanovic are also out due to suspension. Defying the odds, however, is one thing the Blues are becoming rather good at.
Goal.com outlines the reasons why Chelsea can lift the trophy their owner, Roman Abramovich, most craves when they travel to the Allianz Arena for Saturday's European showdown.
|POPULARITY OF DI MATTEO
The sacking of Andre Villas-Boas in March and subsequent appointment of Di Matteo until the end of the season can be fairly described as Abramovich throwing the towel in on a poor season. The Blues were expected to go through the motions while the Russian sounded out Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola or another of European football's most highly-regarded bosses to turn the club's fortunes around in 2012-13.
Fast forward two and a half months and Chelsea head to Munich with the FA Cup resting safely in the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet. The Premier League has been put on the backburner for now but once again, an interim coach has put the Blues on the verge of European glory.
The 'Old Guard' – Terry, Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole in particular – have looked rejuvenated in the roles of enormous responsibility which they so crave. But Di Matteo has accommodated his most experienced players without marginalising the fresher faces of David Luiz, Ramires, Gary Cahill and company. They are unified, they look like a team and they should all want to convince Abramovich to extend the Italian's reign beyond Munich
|DROGBA'S BIG GAME PEDIGREE
This, it seems, is goodbye. Despite Frank Lampard's post-FA Cup final plea, Drogba is likely to seek a final pay day away from West London when his Chelsea contract expires at the end of June.
The Blues will miss nothing more than his penchant for delivering in the biggest games. His winning goal against Liverpool made him the first player to score in four FA Cup finals and he also found the net against Napoli and, crucially, Barcelona during Chelsea's journey to the Allianz Arena.
European finals have not gone so well for Drogba, however. He suffered defeat as a Marseille player against Valencia in the 2004 Uefa Cup final before seeing red in extra time against Manchester United in the 2008 Champions League finale. His legacy as one of Chelsea's greatest strikers is secure but he will be remembered for nothing more than an inspirational final bow here.
|ALL IS NOT WELL IN MUNICH
Chelsea lost by three goals a little over a week ago when they suffered a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Liverpool but it has already been all but forgotten. They won the FA Cup final, after all, and concluded their Premier League campaign with a comfortable 2-1 victory against Blackburn Rovers.
Bayern's recent three-goal defeat was more painful and will remain fresh in the minds of Jupp Heynckes' players on Saturday night. Borussia Dortmund achieved a league and cup double by pipping Bayern to the Bundesliga crown before thrashing them 5-2 in the final of the DFB-Pokal.
As the score suggests, Die Roten were a disaster defensively. Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng both struggled and Bayern were simply outmatched by a Dortmund side boasting an organised defence and a fluent attack. Di Matteo will have been watching.
|THE PRESSURE IS OFF
It is an exaggeration to say that Chelsea will be able to relax and enjoy the occasion as some kind of plucky underdog – many millions of pounds have been ploughed into this team and they travel to Munich with a realistic chance of winning the Champions League.
That said, it is a fixture they should enjoy. Progressing past Napoli, after the first leg, looked very doubtful. Beating Benfica was far from a guarantee. Knocking out defending champions Barcelona was nothing short of stunning.
Tickets were divided equally between the two clubs but playing in Munich could prove more of a burden than an advantage for Bayern, particularly given their lack of domestic success this season. Chelsea did not expect to be here but they have the quality to make the most of the surprise.
|BAYERN CAN BE BEATEN ON THE BREAK
Tactically, Bayern's home advantage and 'favourites' tag should play into Chelsea's hands. They will be expected to take the initiative and attack from the off. The traffic will not be as one-way as the Blues had to withstand against Barcelona, but they certainly should have the opportunity to soak up some pressure before rebounding towards Manuel Neuer.
This, of course, will suit Drogba down to the ground. The absence of Ramires' often breathtaking mobility and stamina is a blow, admittedly, and Di Matteo will need Juan Mata and Salomon Kalou to step up to the mark.
Even without the Brazilian, however, Chelsea will benefit from their ability to adopt the style that they have relied on up until this point. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery can be devastating on their day, but clashed with each other only a few weeks ago while Bayern's defensive frailties were exposed in their humiliation at the hands of Dortmund.
A surprisingly candid remark by Heynckes spoke volumes. "If Barca can't beat Chelsea, how can we?"
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