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FC Bayern München and Chelsea FC are out to make the most of what Jupp Heynckes described as "a fantastic opportunity" when they meet in the UEFA Champions League final in Munich.
Bayern are seeking their fifth European Cup and have won all seven matches at the Fußball Arena München in this season's competition. In contrast, Chelsea are aiming to engrave their name on the trophy for the first time and have won only once in six attempts outside Stamford Bridge this season. Nevertheless, the coaches expect a tight affair.
"Perhaps I'll take the team through Munich to see everything in red and white – it's fantastic preparation for a Champions League final," said Bayern's Heynckes. "We're playing a team with fantastic organisation and great players. If you look at Chelsea's path through the Champions League, they beat Napoli at home, beat Barcelona – the best team in the world – at home and played for 60 minutes a man short in the Camp Nou. That's enough warning for anyone."
"It's going to be difficult because Bayern are a fantastic team," Chelsea's interim manager Roberto Di Matteo said. "Bayern have the best defence in the Bundesliga and our approach has to be the correct one to beat them. They have great players and strengths, and they're playing at home which is a slight advantage for them. But we have great players too and we have as good a chance as them."
In the unlikely event further motivation was needed both teams have experienced recent UEFA Champions League final heartache, Chelsea in Moscow in 2008 and Bayern in Madrid two years later. "
Many of our players have been here before and know how it feels not to bring home the trophy," Di Matteo said. "They've done tremendously well to get back to this stage and the whole club would deserve to win. Chelsea have always done very well in the Champions League, and you always need a bit of luck in a cup competition, but you make your own destiny."
At 67 Heynckes – who could become only the fourth man to win the European Cup with two different clubs – is 26 years older than his Chelsea counterpart, a man he clearly admires. "I'm not surprised by Di Matteo's performance. As a player, he was very intelligent and cool. Chelsea needed that type of person, someone to restructure the team and make them more compact. He seems very much in control and has been able to create harmony. He's done a marvellous job."
Di Matteo has overseen 13 victories in 20 matches since succeeding André Villas-Boas at the start of March, although the Italian's recipe for success is deceptively simple. "Confidence plays a big part in an athlete's life," he explained. "It was important to remind these guys they're fantastic players, have been for many years, and you don't lose that in half a season. I don't know what will happen but we have to believe and we have the confidence and players to win."
A European champion with Real Madrid CF in 1998, Heynckes will look to draw on all the experience from a coaching career that started in 1979 as he makes his final preparations. "I've seen most things," the Bayern coach said. "We'll do our best to focus the team.
For my players and the whole club, it's important I radiate tranquility, as I have done all season. Before the matches against Real Madrid, I told the players we had to be cool and patient and that also applies here. We'll have to deliver the same performance to win."
Both teams must deal with suspensions. Bayern are deprived of Holger Badstuber, David Alaba and Luiz Gustavo and Chelsea miss John Terry, Branislav Ivanović, Ramires and Raul Meireles while David Luiz and Gary Cahill have not played since 15 and 24 April respectively due to hamstring injuries and Florent Malouda has a similar problem. "Cahill and Luiz have trained all week so we're very hopeful and Malouda trained today," said Di Matteo, who has included 17-year-old Nathaniel Chalobah and Todd Kane, 18, in his squad "just in case".
Chelsea lost 3-2 to Bayern in their only previous visit to Munich, in the 2004/05 quarter-finals, although a 4-2 first-leg success took them through. Heynckes is hopeful home advantage could be decisive this time, adding: "To play the final in your own stadium is a fantastic opportunity. I don't share the euphoria in the city that we're favourites – there are no favourites in a final. Chelsea have players with great experience so it would be very wise to be humble and modest. We've played fantastic matches, especially at home. We know every blade of grass on the pitch and that could make a difference. A victory in our own stadium would crown it all. It would difficult to beat."
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