Friday, March 1, 2024

Chelsea, Bayern clash in epic final today


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Munich: Bayern Munich host Chelsea in tomorrow’s Champions League final with both sides looking to erase painful memories of recent defeat at the last hurdle on Europe’s top domestic stage.

The Blues arrived in the Bavarian capital eager to end their long wait to be crowned kings of Europe at Munich’s sold-out Allianz Arena, four years after their misery in Moscow.

The last time Chelsea reached the Champions League final in 2008 they lost on penalties to Manchester United in the Russian capital with striker Didier Drogba dismissed in extra time for a slap on United defender Nemanja Vidic.

Despite an erratic season which saw Chelsea finish sixth in the Premier League, the Blues lifted the FA Cup and beat holders Barcelona on the way to the Champions League final.

After Andre Villa-Boas was sacked as manager in March, new boss Roberto Di Matteo has breathed new life into the team and Drogba says the Blues have earned the right to be here.

“After Moscow, most of us thought we were going to get into the final the next year. But you can see it’s very difficult to reach a final,” said Drogba.

“It shows how much we deserve to be there this time because it’s been a few years.

“We did a great job to get past Barcelona but we have to do one more. Now it’s one more game to win.”

Likewise, Bayern wing Franck Ribery knows the pain of missing out: in the 2010 campaign, his red card in the semi-final against Olympique Lyon saw him suspended for the final as the Bavarians lost 2-0 in Madrid to Inter Milan.

“It wasn’t a good situation for me two years ago and I felt bad about it,” said the Frenchman. “I’ve often thought back to 2010. I can make up for the missed final because I have a second chance. “The final in Munich means I can finally banish the memory of Madrid.”

The Bavarian giants have now reached two of the last three Champions League finals and Ribery is eager to lift the title after missing out two years ago.

“I didn’t think I’d get this second chance so soon,” Franck told magazine Kicker magazine.

“I wanted us to get as far as possible this season, but I never thought we’d really battle through to the final.

“The final in Munich, it’s unbelievable, but I think we deserve to be there.

“I hope we all join forces, turn in a great performance against Chelsea, and win the cup. That would be terrific.”

However, Bayern are licking their wounds after being hammered 5-2 by league champions Dortmund in last weekend’s German Cup final and finished second in the Bundesliga.

The Bavarian giants are bidding to become the first team since Inter at San Siro in 1965 to win the European title on home soil.

“I’m already 29, so who knows whether I’ll appear in another final,” added Ribery, with Bayern aiming to lift their fifth European title overall and second Champions League victory since 2001.

“If we win on Saturday it would be historic, so we have to give everything. We should be exhausted afterwards.”

Both teams upset the odds to take their place in the final with Chelsea stunning holders Barcelona in the semi-finals while Bayern won a penalty-shoot-out in Spain to beat Real Madrid in the last four. (AFP)


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