Petr Čech is hoping his birthday celebrations do not end up being flat, with the Chelsea FC goalkeeper set to turn 30 the day after the UEFA Champions League final against FC Bayern München.
The Czech Republic No1, born on 20 May 1982, hopes he will have reason to celebrate the start of his fourth decade a day early – after Saturday's showpiece. "I have not thought about my birthday yet, but I believe I can give myself an early birthday present the day before," said Čech. "I would like to celebrate with the trophy. If it ends any other way, I do not think there will be any birthday celebration at all."
A 2-1 win against Liverpool FC in the FA Cup final on 5 May has already ensured that the Blues' topsy-turvy season will end with some silverware, but Čech knows that their result in Munich will be the real barometer of their campaign. "Our season will be judged after the final of Champions League," he said. "That will have a great influence on how the whole season is assessed."
Chelsea's campaign has featured its share of turbulence, with André Villas-Boas failing to reach the end of his first season in charge and Roberto Di Matteo being brought in as his temporary replacement. A sixth-place finish in the Premier League was their lowest since they ended up in the same position in 2001/02, but Čech feels it has been a decent campaign nonetheless.
"Regardless of the result, the season will be positive for me because we won the FA Cup and I kept my performances to a high standard throughout," he said. "Now we have a chance to win the most prestigious club trophy. This might make the season even better.
"If we win on Saturday, the season might be ranked as one of the most successful in the history of the club, even though we did not finish in the top four to earn a Champions League place for next season. The season is full of paradoxes for us – we shall see how it ends."
In a sense, the pressure is off for Chelsea, with Bayern having home advantage – and all the obligations that entails – at the Fuβball Arena München. "It is the final of Champions League, so usually you would say the chances were 50-50, but considering where the final is being played, Bayern are the favourites," said Čech. "Playing in the final at your own stadium, being in your own dressing room – it is a tremendous advantage. But we are going to try to outsmart the favourites.
"The final result will depend on how the teams cope with the pressure," added Čech, who will start preparing for UEFA EURO 2012 in the days following the final. "Bayern are the favourites because they are at home. How big an advantage this is, we shall see. We are going to make their favourites' role difficult. We want to win. We are not going to Munich for the trip."
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