After 124 games and 343 goals the Champions League final 2012 is ready to kick off. Whether you’re cheering on underdogs Chelsea or favourites Bayern Munich, it’s fair to expect the most exciting football match since last weekend.
Come Saturday all eyes will turn to the Allianz Arena where Bayern Munich face Chelsea to decide who will be the 2012 Champions of Europe.
It will undoubtedly be a match of historic proportions as Bayern attempt to become the first team to win the Champions League on home soil while Chelsea have never won this competition before (having to make do with a runners up medal in the 2007–08 competition).
The bookies are backing Bayern
Bayern not only have home advantage, they are the bookies favourites at 4/5 to win the match in 90 minutes, and 4/9 to lift the trophy in any manner, while Chelsea are 7/2 (and 15/8).
It’s no real surprise as Chelsea seem to have made the final against all odds (or sense). They nearly bowed out at the first round of the knock out stages, losing 3-1 to Napoli in the last 16 first leg (in Naples) but the comeback began at Stamford Bridge in the return leg, with goals from Didier Drogba and John Terry. A converted penalty from Frank Lampard forced the game into extra time, before Branislav Ivanovic's 105th minute goal sent Chelsea into the quarter-finals
Not to mention Chelsea’s UNBELIVEABLE set of semi-final results (home AND away) against defending champions Barcelona, that simply flew in the face of the most skilled of soccer handicappers
(I apologise once again to Mrs Richardson and her depleted shoe fund). It looks like the only way Chelsea will lift the trophy (that has eluded them for so long) is if they pull off ANOTHER unlikey result.
The bookies think it will be a bridge too far as they have Bayern Munich favourites to win both halves at 7/4, and favourites to take the game if the first half ends level, at 7/2. For parity, Chelsea are 8/1 and 9/1 to do the same. If that isn’t conclusive proof of who you should back, know that Chelsea winning after trailing at the break is at 40/1 while a Munich comeback is at “just” 20/1.Bigger than big
Chelsea’s manager Roberto Di Matteo appreciates the magnitude of this match, "This game can decide the history of our club. I've just tried to help players prepare tactically, mentally and physically.”
As an aside it’s interesting to note that the bookies have Di Matteo at 8/11 to be Chelsea’s next permanent manager (and 4/6 to be there come kick off for the 2012-13 Premier League season). Other Managers in the mix are Fabio Capello at 7/2, Pep Guardiola at 15/2 and Jose Mourinho at 10/1. If you fancy backing any of these bets BET NOW as winning (or not winning) the Champions League will have a huge impact on De Matteo’s future (and those odds). As an aside Roberto Di Matteo is also 40/1 to be next Liverpool manager, following King Kenny’s P-45, behind Bolton’s Owen Coyle (who’s at 33/1) but ahead of Alex Mcleish (66/1).Good News / Bad News for Chelsea
Bayern's Luiz Gustavo, David Alaba and Holger Badstuber will all miss the final, through suspension. While Chelsea’s Gary Cahill and David Luiz have returned to training ahead of Saturday's Champions League final, but John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles are all suspended, while Florent Malouda is doubtful. Di Matteo knows what this means, “We will put some reserve team players into the squad, and just figure out what to do," he said. The bookies also know what that means
That’s probably why the sportsbooks have three Bayern winning
correct scores; 1-0, 2-0 and 2-1 (at 6/1, 7/1 and 8/1) ahead of any Chelsea victory inside regular time. The shortest odds on a Chelsea win are 12/1 on a 1-0 victory, although both 1-1 and 0-0 are favoured ahead of that at 11/2 and 10/1.Reasons to back Chelsea
Chelsea know this is an all or nothing game in terms qualifying for next season’s Champions League, as their sixth place league finish leaves them out of automatic qualification, and the only way they will be allowed to play in next season’s competition (at Tottenham Hotspurs expense) is as holders. They also have a better record in the knockout stages of this competition (four wins, one loss and a draw) than Bayern (four wins, and two losses). Also Bayern needed penalties to beat Real Madrid, and should the final go to penalties, SURELY Chelsea are due some good luck (although the bookies have the Blues wining on penalties at 14/1, and Bayern winning via a shootout at 12/1) .Reason to back BayernCommon sense and my existing prediction
Spurs fans cheer as loud as any German as Bayern Munich take the 2012 Champions League!