Another thrilling UEFA Champions League season is set to culminate in fitting fashion on Saturday, when FC Bayern München take on Chelsea FC in the final at their very own Fußball Arena München. UEFA.com's team of reporters in Munich and across Europe provide you all the latest news, views and interviews as we count down to kick-off in the biggest fixture in the European club calendar.
All times CET.
Friday 20.18, UEFA.com London newsdesk
That is it as far as the blog is concerned for today. It will return on Saturday morning with a look at what the newspapers are saying ahead of the final and bring you build-up and comment as we count down to kick-off.
Friday 20.15, UEFA.com London newsdesk
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes says winning the UEFA Champions League at home "would crown it all" while Roberto Di Matteo believes Chelsea have the confidence to triumph. Read more from the coaches in Andrew Haslam's match preview.
Friday 20.03, Philip Röber, Fußball Arena München
Dinner at the Bayern team hotel was served by Alfons Schuhbeck, one of the top chefs in Germany, and he promised the players they will receive "all the energy they need" for tomorrow's final. One of those perhaps needing an extra boost is Arjen Robben, who came down with a slight cold on Thursday but says it is no big deal. "Unless I have a fever of 41 degrees on Saturday, rest assured that I will play."
Friday 19.25, Graham Hunter, Fußball Arena München
For the moment the positive news for Chelsea fans is that all the players who have carried one doubt or another over their heads in recent days – because of injury or recuperation – played a sprightly part in tonight's training session. David Luiz and Gary Gahill look fully recovered, giving credence to Roberto di Matteo's statement in his press conference that they have "taken a full part in training this week". Meanwhile, Florent Malouda has rejoined the squad after a hamstring problem. A positive omen for the big day?
Friday 19.20, Kevin Ashby, UEFA Champions Festival
Luís Figo knows all about winning the UEFA Champions League having been part of the Real Madrid CF team which defeated Bayer 04 Leverkusen in a thrilling final in 2002. Speaking to UEFA.com at the Olympiapark this evening, the Portuguese said: "It's the best competition and the best moment for a football player is reaching the final of the Champions League. It's the most prestigious trophy which every team is fighting to win. So when you have the chance to play in a final, and win it, it's a day which you'll never forget."
Friday 19.18, Graham Hunter, Fußball Arena München
The Chelsea training session is in full swing right now and it is clear to see the benefit of Roberto Di Matteo fully involving his suspended captain John Terry. As the players perform their keep-ball sessions and then move to seven-a-side games, Terry's voice can be heard booming out "sharp lads, keep the passing sharp". Joking with his team-mates and working as if he was pushing for a place in the starting XI, it is hard to remember that he will play no part tomorrow.
Friday 19.05, Martyn Hindley, UEFA Champions Festival
A goalkeeper who was known for his presence and strong personality, Jens Lehmann will be keenly observing how Manuel Neuer and Petr Čech, imposing No1s in their own right, fare between the posts tomorrow.
"The most important thing about the two goalkeepers is their size because Manuel Neuer and Petr Čech can scare an opposing player with the way they fill the goal so well," said the former Arsenal FC player, sent off in the 2006 final against FC Barcelona.
"I would normally say Manuel Neuer will come out on top because of his size and good jump, but Petr Čech has plenty of experience as well. I saw his two games against Barcelona and he was spot on and made some world-class saves. On any given day we can see the same from Neuer, too."
Friday 18.35, Graham Hunter, Fußball Arena München
Brian Laudrup (see 16.49) joined Chelsea in 1998 and, while his stay at the club was brief, he made his debut in the UEFA Super Cup victory over Real Madrid CF, coming on for Blues legend Gianfranco Zola.
He told UEFA.com that he is deeply surprised about the performance of Chelsea under the control of his old team-mate, Roberto Di Matteo. "Chelsea are the absolute surprise team of the Champions League season. If you had asked any so-called expert or former footballer three months ago they'd have said that Chelsea had no chance at all.
"How they have performed has been incredible and there is something in me which says that perhaps they deserve to win this final now. For Chelsea it looks as if Roberto Di Matteo has gone to senior players like Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Petr Čech and asked them to 'stand up' for him. They are exactly the type of guys you'd like to have in a situation like this. It's also true that some of their guys might be thinking that they have to take this chance in case it's their last one."
Laudrup's analytical eye, while working for Danish television, will be drawn to one particular participant tomorrow. "The player I have a weakness for is Franck Ribéry," he explained. "He's a fantastic talent – the kind I like to watch. Ribéry is creative, can score, set up goals, do the unexpected and produce magic. [José] Bosingwa, if it is him who faces Ribéry, might well be in for a long night and I'd select that as one of my key duels of the match."
Friday 18.19, Andrew Haslam, Fußball Arena München
Didier Drogba accompanied Frank Lampard in the Chelsea press conference and, like his team-mate, reiterated how good it feels to be back in the final of Europe's premier club competition. "The most important thing is to win the game, no matter what happens," said the striker.
"I'm just happy because we're again in the Champions League final and it's fantastic for the club − we deserve to be here. It was very difficult and no one expected us to be here at the start of the season but we've done everything to be here and now we're going to do everything to win it."
Friday 18.02, Andrew Haslam, Fußball Arena München
Frank Lampard says the prospect of featuring in his second UEFA Champions League final appeared remote when Roberto Di Matteo replaced André Villas-Boas in the middle of the Blues' round of 16 tie against SSC Napoli with the Londoners trailing 3-1.
"We're very pleased to be back – we wouldn't have believed we would have been [here] two or three months ago," said the England midfielder, before reflecting on the penalty shoot-out defeat by Manchester United FC in the 2008 showpiece.
"We have good and bad memories of Moscow but the main memory is the defeat. It's taken us a long time to get back but the belief is there in the dressing room and only if we win [tomorrow] will that be reprieved."
Di Matteo said: "The players deserve it. They've worked so hard to get to this stage. Many of them have been here before and they know how it feels not to bring home the trophy, but they've done tremendously well to get back to this stage and I think the whole club would deserve to win."
Friday 17.15, Andrew Haslam, Fußball Arena München
There are 30 minutes to go until the Chelsea press conference, with Roberto Di Matteo, Frank Lampard – likely to captain the side in the absence of John Terry – and Didier Drogba. Given the Blues have four players suspended, it will be interesting to see if Di Matteo gives any hint of his likely starting lineup.
Friday 17.10, Kevin Ashby, UEFA Champions Festival
Steve McManaman and Christian Karembeu were in great form as they tackled UEFA.com users' questions sent in via Twitter this afternoon – their answers will follow shortly. Cafu turned up mid-interview along with Patrik Andersson, Celestine Babayaro and Jay-Jay Okocha – not a bad six-a-side team. Luís Figo will be chatting to us soon, as will the singer Aloe Blacc ahead of his performance at the Olympiapark this evening.
Friday 16.55, Philip Röber, Bayern training ground
As expected, Bayern's training session was a light one. Another absence due to injury – especially in defence, where Holger Badstuber and David Alaba miss out through suspension – would be a major blow. The good news, however, is that Daniel Van Buyten, who played for Bayern's B team a fortnight ago after returning from a metatarsal injury that had sidelined him four months, has made significant progress in recent weeks and looks set for some involvement tomorrow.
Friday 16.49, Graham Hunter, Fußball Arena München
Brian Laudrup is part of an elite group who have played for both Bayern and Chelsea. The gifted Dane, winner of the 1992 UEFA European Championship, believes that the destiny of the trophy is hard to predict because the sides are evenly matched. Talking exclusively to UEFA.com, Laudrup first examined the absence of the suspended players for each team: Ramires, Raul Meireles, John Terry and Branislav Ivanović for Chelsea and Bayern's Holger Badstuber, David Alaba and Luis Gustavo.
"My honest thought is that the suspensions give a slight advantage to Bayern," he explained. "OK, it appears as if they may have to use a midfielder, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, in defence and Diego Contento only has 14 matches all season. You'd call that a huge disadvantage but Chelsea have lost their captain [Terry] plus Ramires, Raul Meireles and Branislav Ivanović.
"Ramires, in particular, showed his class against FC Barcelona so given that Bayern are at home for this final I'd say that, overall, they have a slight edge. Bayern played very badly in the German Cup final but we know that club - if they've just played one bad match then a very good one is close."
Friday 16.18, Philip Röber, Bayern training ground
Bayern are in the middle of their last training session before the final and although coach Jupp Heynckes mentioned during the press conference that "a few of us have a common cold", all eligible players − as well as the suspended David Alaba, Luiz Gustavo and Holger Badstuber − are taking part and look fit.
It is certainly not a normal session, with a few hundred vociferous fans cheering their team on. Afterwards, Bayern head for their hotel, where Heynckes will talk to his players about the analysis which has been conducted on Chelsea's strengths and weaknesses.
Friday 16.10, UEFA.com London newsdesk
Bayern captain Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger spoke to the world's media a few hours ago at the first press conference of the day. Read what the German internationals had to say in Andrew Haslam's (@UEFAcomAndrewH) piece.
Friday 15.53, Andrew Haslam, Fußball Arena München
This is the sixth European Cup final between German and English teams – only once previously did the Bundesliga side prevail:
1975: FC Bayern München 2-0 Leeds United AFC
1977: Liverpool FC 3-1 VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach
1980: Nottingham Forest FC 1-0 Hamburger SV
1982: Aston Villa FC 1-0 FC Bayern München
1999: Manchester United FC 2-1 FC Bayern München
Overall in UEFA competition there have been ten Anglo-German finals and only two German winners. The other finals were:
1965: West Ham United FC 2-0 TSV 1860 München, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
1966: Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Liverpool FC, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
1973: Liverpool FC 3-2 VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach (agg), UEFA Cup
1998: Chelsea FC 1-0 VfB Stuttgart, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
Friday 15.22, Ondřej Zlámal in Prague
Sport (see 14.30) also spoke to Petr Čech's parents. "We are going to the final as a family, as are Petr's wife Martina's family," said Libuše Čechová, Čech's mother. His father, Václav Čech, says it is not easy for him to watch his son play on TV. "I am always very nervous – I can walk kilometres in my sitting room around the TV set. When there is a corner kick I hide in a corner of the room so I don't see it. I am as nervous as a dog."
Friday 15.08, Andrew Haslam, Fußball Arena München
A Bayern victory would make Jupp Heynckes the 19th coach to have won the European Cup twice, following his 1998 success with Real Madrid CF. He would also become only the fourth to have triumphed with two different clubs after Ernst Happel (Feyenoord 1970, Hamburger SV 1983), Ottmar Hitzfeld (Borussia Dortmund 1997, Bayern 2001) and José Mourinho (FC Porto 2004, FC Internazionale Milano 2010).
Friday 14.45, Graham Hunter, Fußball Arena München
Chelsea's more superstitious fans may be calling on history to repeat itself on Saturday. Munich has previously hosted three European Cup finals – in 1979 when Nottingham Forest FC defeated Malmö FF 1-0, in 1993 when Olympique de Marseille won the first edition of the UEFA Champions League and in 1997 when Borussia Dortmund upset the odds with a 3-1 victory against Juventus. On each of those occasions the winning club was lifting this trophy for the first time, something which cannot apply to Bayern but could to Roberto Di Matteo's team.
Friday 14.30, Ondřej Zlámal in Prague
Czech daily Sport highlights a number of statistics about Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech, who has not missed a minute of the London team's 12 European games this term. The main number is 30, the age Čech will turn on Sunday, while four is also significant because the Blues No1 can become the fourth Czech footballer to win the UEFA Champions League after Vladimír Šmicer, Milan Baroš and Marek Jankulovski.
Friday 14.17, Steffen Potter, Fußball Arena München
Around 30,000 Chelsea fans are expected in the city on Saturday. It has been predicted that the final, and all that surrounds it, will contribute around €52m to the Munich economy, with the local tourism office expecting approximately 180,000 people to converge on the Bavarian capital, around 40,000 of whom will sleep in the city.
Friday 14.00, Graham Hunter, Fußball Arena München
Chelsea's new signing, German international Marko Marin, is convinced his future employers can defeat Bayern, despite the Bundesliga team enjoying home advantage. The 23-year-old midfielder, who will join the Blues from SV Werder Bremen this summer for a reported €8m, bases his judgement partly on Bayern's 5-2 defeat by Borussia Dortmund in last weekend's German Cup final. Marin told BBC Sport: "I watched the final. They [Bayern] made big errors. Chelsea have better players and will do well if they play offensively."
Friday 13.50, Christian Châtelet, UEFA.com French newsdesk
A UEFA Champions Leauge winner in Munich with Olympique de Marseille in 1993 and a former Chelsea player, Marcel Desailly is expecting an "open" game on Saturday. "We will not see Chelsea waiting in their half – I suspect they will play [further] forward," he told L'Équipe. "Especially since Di Matteo knows Bayern tend to leave space in behind. We will certainly have an entertaining game with Chelsea trying to quickly come to the fore."
Friday 13.39, Andrew Haslam at the Bayern press conference
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes has issued a 'carpe diem' rallying call to his troops urging them to seize the "fantastic opportunity" in front of them at the Fußball Arena München tomorrow. "We have the chance to win the Champions League after 11 years, and in our own stadium," said Heynckes. "Many clubs with long traditions have to wait a long time to win this competition and we may not get this chance again," he added. "To play the final in your own stadium is a fantastic opportunity."
Friday 13.25, Andrew Haslam at the Bayern press conference
Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has lamented the suspensions that have ruled several key Bayern players out of the final, but feels that with their experience and with Chelsea in a similar situation, the tables have not been turned in either side's favour.
"It would definitely be better to have everyone available," said the playmaker. "But some people are not able to participate in the final. We've already played in the Champions League before and we each have a few suspended players so I don't think it makes much of a difference.
"Luiz Gustavo has become a very important player; he's fast and good at one-on-ones, as we saw in Madrid," added Schweinsteiger. "He's an excellent player and we'll miss him, as we will Holger Badstuber and David Alaba. But we have solutions. We'll see how it works out without them."
Friday 13.10, Andrew Haslam at the Bayern press conference
Bayern captain Philipp Lahm has spoken of the excitement flooding Munich ahead of tomorrow's final, but also warned that Bayern have a hard task to realise their dream of lifting the trophy on home soil.
"We're really looking forward to it," he said. "It was our dream to make it to the final and here we are. We haven't quite made it yet, we want to win this cup but we have a tough job ahead of us.
"It is great to be here on home turf," he added. "We play here every week, we're at home here and when you look at the city, everybody is happy, there is great anticipation."
Friday 12.45, Jürgen Baumgartner, Fußball Arena München
On my way to the Fußball Arena München today I bought the Münchner Merkur, who asked some former stars what they think will happen on Saturday. Ludwig Kögl, who scored Bayern's goal when they lost 2-1 to FC Porto in the 1987 European Cup final, said: "I think Bayern will win 2-1. A Champions League final at home you experience just once in your career, you have to give everything. If you take the German Cup final against Dortmund in Berlin as indicator, you might be worried – but that will play no role."
Karl-Heinz Riedle, who won the 1997 UEFA Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund against Juventus, scoring twice, told the Munich-based newspaper: "Bayern is in good shape, despite the 5-2 loss against Dortmund. Mario Gomez appeals to me. I think they will make it. I won the Champions League in 1997 with BVB, now I grant it to Bayern."
Friday 12.30, Andrew Haslam, Fußball Arena München
Half an hour to go until the Bayern press conference and the room has been filling up since midday, when virtually all the television cameramen arrived to get in position with plenty of time to spare. Coach Jupp Heynckes will be joined by Bayern captain Philipp Lahm and key midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger ahead of the club's training session, which takes place at 15.30 at their training ground on Säbener Strasse.
Chelsea will train at the stadium at 18.30, 45 minutes after their own pre-match press conference which will be conducted by interim coach Roberto Di Matteo. Frank Lampard – likely to captain the side in the absence of the suspended John Terry – and Didier Drogba will also take part.
Friday 12.21, Laurent Morel, UEFA futsal manager, Olympiapark
The futsal day at the UEFA Champions Festival is a great occasion, filled with activities. We have key clinics with the kids, we have open play for the public and an exhibition match with two German futsal clubs. Then we have the skills clinics with Ricardinho, where kids will try to imitate what he does with a futsal ball, and other top players like Cafu, Steve McMananman, Christian Karembeu and Patrik Andersson are present.
This is brilliant for futsal, as we're right at the very top of European football today. For the whole futsal community it is great to be considered as the 'little brother' of football and to be here at the festival in Munich.
Friday 12.07, Andrew Haslam, Fußball Arena München
Bayern are the first team to play a European Cup final in their home stadium since 1984, and they will hope for a better outcome than AS Roma, beaten on penalties by Liverpool FC in the Stadio Olimpico 28 years ago. The German club would doubtless prefer to look further back, to FC Internazionale Milano's 1965 triumph at their San Siro home or Real Madrid CF's defeat of ACF Fiorentina at the Santiago Bernabéu eight years earlier.
Bayern would become only the third team to win the UEFA Champions League in their own country after Juventus (1996, final in Rome) and Borussia Dortmund (1997, final in Munich) while Manchester United FC lost last year's final to FC Barcelona in London. In European Cup terms, United (1968, London), AFC Ajax (1972, Rotterdam), Liverpool (1978, London) have won finals in their own country while Stade de Reims (1956, Paris) and Barcelona (1986, Seville) lost finals on home soil.
Friday 11.51, UEFA.com London newsdesk
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has pinpointed the catalyst in the Blues' excellent finish to a season that has already featured an FA Cup final win against Liverpool FC. "We were struggling in Naples," conceded Lampard, in an interview with The Telegraph. "I was sitting watching and I could see that. We were very despondent in the dressing-room afterwards. We knew we were better than that. We all had to improve."
"It took a big effort from everybody in the weeks between the Napoli games to turn things around," he added. "The home game was obviously the major turning point in our season."
With defender John Terry suspended for tomorrow's showpiece, Lampard will likely lead the team out as captain in Munich. "It will be my proudest moment," he said. "The season has turned around personally but not quite to the full extent yet. We need to win the final."
Friday 11.33, UEFA.com London newsdesk
Chelsea players might have a tight schedule ahead of the final but Juan Mata still found time earlier to share his thoughts on Twitter. The Spanish international tweeted:
@juanmata10: Arriving at the airport, on our way to Munich...with our dream closer! #CFC @chelseafc #ChampionsFinal
Friday 11.22, Andrew Haslam, Fußball Arena München
There is a little over one and a half hours to go until the first of the day's two press conferences, with Bayern due to address the media at 13.00, and there are plenty of members of the press here collecting their accreditations for today and tomorrow night. In fact, owing to the high numbers, the photographers' booth actually opened its shutters 30 minutes early this morning to ease some of the congestion.
Friday 11.05, Kevin Ashby, UEFA Champions Festival
The festival enters its third day today and is again likely to attract huge numbers of fans to the expansive site at the Olympiapark. Josh Hershman (@UEFAcomJoshH) and Andy James (@UEFAcomAndyJ) are on hand to post updates on the various events taking place, including quotes from any footballing figures present.
On that note, former Bayern stars Willy Sagnol and Giovane Elber have answered users' tweets in the last couple of days with Steffi Jones and Celestine Babayaro the first participants in UEFA.com Google+ hangouts.
Today's social media activity sees two more European champions, former Real Madrid CF midfielders Steve McManaman and Christian Karembeu, answer your questions via Twitter and ex-Chelsea FC defender Graeme Le Saux step into the hangout hotseat.
Send questions via Twitter using #AskMcManaman and #AskKarembeu, and join our Google+ page to be in with a chance of putting your questions live to Le Saux.
Friday 10.55, Kevin Ashby, UEFA Champions Festival
Last night's UEFA Women's Champions League final attracted a record crowd in excess of 50,000 as Olympique Lyonnais defeated 1. FFC Frankfurt 2-0 to retain their title.
The Olympiastadion was hosting its first football match since Bayern departed seven years ago and the name of Camille Abily can now be added to the list of players including Gerd Müller, Trevor Francis, Marco van Basten, Basile Boli and Lars Ricken to have scored famous final goals at the iconic stadium.
For the first time since the FIFA Women's World Cup, women's football features on the front page of French sportspaper L'Equipe this morning. Under a huge picture of the team celebrating, the headline reads: 'They are magic'.
Friday 10.45, UEFA.com London newsdesk
Andrew Haslam (@UEFAcomAndrewH) and Graham Hunter (@UEFAcomGrahamH) will provide you with live updates throughout the day – paying particular attention to Bayern's press conference at 13.00 and Chelsea's address to the media at 17.45 – from the Fußball Arena München, which will have a 62,500 capacity for tomorrow's game.
Here are a few other morsels of information to get you going this morning:
Friday 10.45, UEFA.com London newsdesk
Before the day's business gets under way, a gentle reminder that there are a number of ways to win great prizes with UEFA.com, including Predictor, Player Rater, and Classics. For now, though, UEFA.com's match background and final press kit provide all the facts, records and history you need.
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