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FC Bayern München will break new ground on Saturday when they take on Chelsea FC at their Fußball Arena München home and Philipp Lahm is urging the German side to make the most of a rare opportunity.
It is the first time a team has contested a UEFA Champions League final in their own stadium and only the fourth time – and the first in 28 years – it has happened in European Cup history, and the Bayern captain cut a relaxed figure in familiar surroundings at the pre-match press conference.
"It was our dream to make it to the final and here we are," Lahm said. "We haven't quite finished yet, we want to win this cup and we have a tough job ahead of us but it's great to be here on home turf. I was born in Munich, I grew up in Munich and I joined Bayern at the age of 11, so this is definitely my home. When you look round the city everybody is happy; there's great anticipation."
Munich has been a sea of Bayern red and white in the lead-up and Lahm feels the benefits of that support far outweigh any suggestion of additional pressure. "It's definitely a positive thing to play in our own stadium," the full-back said. "We know everything here so it has a positive effect on us. Being in your own stadium gives you a feeling of safety and security."
That feeling of serenity could have been disrupted by the suspensions of two of Bayern's usual back four in David Alaba and Holger Badstuber, while Luiz Gustavo is also banned. Yet Bastian Schweinsteiger believes that merely presents other players with the chance to impress. "Luiz Gustavo has become a very important player and we'll miss him, as we will Holger Badstuber and David Alaba, but we have different solutions," he said. "We'll see how it works out without them."
One player who is available is Franck Ribéry, himself banned for the final loss to FC Internazionale Milano two years ago and described by Schweinsteiger as "an outstanding player who can make the difference". While hailing the Frenchman as "a player who decides matches", Lahm added: "It's going to be important to have him but it's important all players live up to their performance level. We have the hunger and the desire but all players need to chip in and I'm sure Franck will play his part."
Lahm and Schweinsteiger still keenly feel the pain of that 2-0 loss in Madrid, although the former feels the setback may have benefited Bayern in the long term. "It's an advantage to have played in the final two years ago," the 28-year-old defender said. "The players know what to expect so we've made a few steps forward. Two years ago, everything was new. We have more experience now, but Chelsea played in the final [in 2008]. For some of their players, it will be the last chance to win this title."
While Bayern finished eight points behind Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and went down 5-2 to the same team in last weekend's German Cup final, they have been imperious at home in the UEFA Champions League, winning all seven matches in this season's competition. "I would be disappointed if we win nothing this season but a number of teams would like to swap positions with us," Schweinsteiger, 27, said. "We've delivered great performances in the Champions League, especially at home, and that gives us confidence. We're focused on that, we'll try to play well – and to win this."
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