Tag Archives: Final

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Ten Greatest Manchester United Moments

When Real Madrid came out of the hat as Manchester United’s opponents for the last 16 of the Champions League, the minds of all United fans everywhere switched to one man, Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese skipper will return to Old Trafford for the first time since leaving the club in the summer of 2009. He will return for the second leg of the tie and will be greeted with a huge round of applause and the customary ‘Viva Ronaldo’ United chants.

In our today’s Picture Specials, we have a look at Ronaldo’s ten greatest moments during his time with the Old Trafford club…

1.  Joins United from Sporting Lisbon (July 2003)

Joins-United

2. Debut vs Bolton Wanderers (August 2003)

Debut-Bolton

3. Goal vs Milwall in the 2004 FA Cup final (May 2004)

FA-Cup-Final-Goal-Millwall

4. First Premier League title (May 2007)

First-League-Title

5. Back to back PFA and FWA awards (May 2007)

Back-2-Back-PFA

6. Stunning freekick against Portsmouth (January 2008)

Freekick-Pompey

7. Winning the Champions League final against Chelsea (May 2008)

Champions-League-Win

8. Named FIFA Player of the Year (December 2008)

Fifa-Player-Of-The-Year

9. 40-yard goal against Porto (April 2009)

Goal-Porto

10. Transferred to Real Madrid for world record fee (June 2009)

Transfered-Madrid

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Watch Drogba’s All Nine Cup Final Goals

Yesterday, Chelsea and Didier Drogba both confirmed that the Ivorian will be leaving Stamford Bridge in the summer after his contract expires in June. So, we here decided to take a few minutes and relive the nine cup final goals that helped him define his time at the Bridge and made him a true Chelsea legend.

Liverpool 2-3(aet) Chelsea – Carling Cup Final 2005

Drogba put Chelsea ahead in extra-time as the Blues won their first trophy under Jose Mourinho.

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea – Carling Cup Final 2007

Drogba scored both goals, including the winner six minutes from time, as Chelsea came from behind to beat Arsenal.

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United – FA Cup Final 2007

Drogba scored the winner with just four minutes of extra-time remaining after playing a one-two with Frank Lampard.

Chelsea 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur – Carling Cup Final 2008

Drogba became the first player to score in three League Cup finals when he put Chelsea ahead with a free-kick.

Chelsea 2-1 Everton – FA Cup Final 2009

Drogba’s equaliser set Chelsea on the road to victory after Louis Saha had put Everton ahead with the quickest FA Cup final goal.

Chelsea 1-0 Portsmouth – FA Cup Final 2010

Drogba’s 59th-minute free-kick clinched Chelsea their first league and cup double.

Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool – FA Cup Final 2012

Drogba became the first player to score in four FA Cup finals as Chelsea lifted the trophy for a fourth time in six years.

Chelsea 1-1 (4-3 on pens) Bayern Munich – UEFA Champions League Final 2012

Drogba’s 88th-minute header took the final into extra-time and, fittingly, it was the Ivorian who struck the winning penalty in the shoot-out.

Champions League Final In Pictures

What a Saturday Night it was in Munich as Chelsea created history by winning the Champions League for the first time ever in their history by defeating the hosts Bayern Munich.

The Germans dominated the game completely but in end it were Blues from west London who walked out as winners. Want to relive it again? Then, take a look below as we recap the final in pictures. Note: Click on the Images to view in Bigger Size. 

General view of the stadium some one hour before kickoff. And it’s already packed!
The trophy for which the two teams will play for, is up for display in the stadium ahead of kickoff.
The teams are out and going through the formalities before going head-to-head for the greatest prize in club football.
The Bayern Munich supporters show their support to their team during the opening ceremony before kickoff.
Chelsea fans have their own banner, they are the pride of London tonight as the world watches on.
The action begins. Bayern start to apply pressure on nervous Chelsea. Mario Gomez tries to win a header over David Luiz.
Bayern skipper Philipp Lahm tries to get past Chelsea’s Champions League debutant Ryan Bertrand as Bayern stay on offensive.
Bayern Munich and Mario Gomez rue a hat full of chances in the first half and second half is no different.
Bayern supporters light up the arena with flares, there’s a lack of flair on the pitch at the moment as the game remains in deadlock.
Franck Ribery finally puts the ball in the back of the net, but he is offside. TV replays show it’s very close.
Bayern’s number 25 sneaks in at the far post to meet a cross from Toni Kroos. Muller heads the ball hard into the ground and it bounces up over Cech.
Bayern get their goal finally in the 83rd minute. Frank Lampard looks on as the Bayern players celebrate a possible winner.
With just minutes on the clock. Juan Mata’s corner is headed by Drogba into the back of the net. Manuel Neuer could just palm the Ivorian’s powerfull and well-directed headed into the top corner.
Remarkable!! Match is not over yet. Drogba – man for the big finals – celebrates his equaliser with his Chelsea team-mates as the match goes in extra time.
In extra time. Drogba undoes his hard work and gives away a cheap penalty by fouling Franck Ribery in the box. But Petr Cech to the rescue, as he guess the right side and saves Arjen Robben’s penalty.
The challenge from Drogba ended Franck Ribery’s night. The Frenchman is substituted by Ivica Olic, who misses a glorious opportunity in the second half of extra time. The match goes in penalties.
Philipp Lahm scores Bayern Munich’s first penalty but Juan Mata misses for Chelsea.
The German side look happy as their keeper makes the first save. Advantage Bayern!
David Luiz, Mario Gomez, Frank Lampard and Manuel Neuer all score before Petr Cech saves Ivica Olic’s penalty. Ashley Cole scores the next penalty to level the things.
Petr Cech makes yet another penalty save as he denies Bastian Schweinsteiger, who scored the winning penalty in Madrid. It’s advantage Chelsea!
It’s written in the stars that Didier Drogba should step up to score the winning penalty for Chelsea.
The Ivorian calmly sends Neuer the wrong way and wins it for Chelsea.
Wild celebrations follow as Chelsea win their first ever Champions League title in history.
The big scoreboard in the stadium display Chelsea are the Champions Winners 2012.
Frank Lampard and the suspended skipper John Terry lifts the Champions League trophy and celebrates with the team.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich finally holds the Champions League trophy high, which he most wanted.
While Chelsea celebrate, Bayern Munich players lay on the pitch sad and dejected after losing on penalties.
Chelsea are the Champions of Europe and the celebrations continue as they pose with the trophy.

Five Stars And Flops From The Champions League Final

Chelsea won the Champions League for the first time ever in their history on Saturday after beating Bayern Munich on penalties in the final at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Bayern had looked headed for victory after Thomas Muller had nodded them ahead in the 82nd minute, only for Didier Drogba to draw the Blues level with a powerful header of his own six minutes later. Arjen Robben then wasted a glorious opportunity to win the game when he saw his penalty saved by former team-mate Petr Cech in the first half of extra-time, and with neither side able to find the back of the net again, the match went to the dreaded penalty shootout. Following misses by Juan Mata and Ivica Olic, the score was evenly poised at 3-3 when Bastian Schweinsteiger saw his effort being saved by the fingertips of Petr Cech and onto the post, setting the stage for Drogba to win the match for Chelsea with a well-struck effort into the bottom corner.

Here, Into The Top Corner takes a look at the five stars and flops from last nigh’s Champions League final at the Allianz Arena.

Flops

5. Salomon Kalou – 6/10

Was given an advanced role in midfield but was ineffective for the most of the match. Squandered dangerous counterattacking opportunities by wandering needlessly offside. Hit Chelsea’s best effort on target in the first half but was rightly replaced by Fernando Torres in the second half. 4.

Juan Mata – 6/10

Showed glimpses of his technical excellence but the Spaniard was a completely peripheral figure in this encounter. On the rare occasion Chelsea attacked in numbers, the ex-Valencia man looked dangerous, but this occurred on only a couple of times. Missed his penalty which summed up his evening.

3. Jose Bosingwa – 5.5/10

Nearly scored an embarrassing own goal midway through the first half when Frank Lampard played him an awkward pass along the six-yard box. Was exposed a lot throughout the game by both Ribery and Cotento on the left flank.

2. Arjen Robben – 5/10

Missed the penalty which could have won the game for the hosts. Looked selfish on many occasions and miscued many crosses. The Dutchman probably had the maximum touches of the ball in the whole game but made a meal of the individual possession. He was expected to be Bayern’s star for the night but was way far from it.

1. Mario Gomez – 5/10

For a player who has scored 13 goals in the Champions League this season, some of the missed opportunities seemed rather unblievable. He had Bayern’s biggest chance in the first half but he shot well over the bar and it was just a night where he failed to have his shooting boots on. The Bundesliga top scorer did, however, to convert his penalty to give his team a 2-0 lead in the shootout but in the end the missed chances will haunt him more.

Stars

5. Thomas Muller – 7.5/10

Muller was fairly anonymous in the first half but came to life in the second period when Jupp Heynckes shifted him out to the right of the attack. Following the switch, the 22-year-old started to make his way into more attacking positions, and opened the scoring when he made one such run in behind the Chelsea backline and nodded past Cech.

4. Philipp Lahm – 7.5/10

Lahm put in a real captain’s display on the night, defending well against his direct opponent and also providing his team with plenty of attacking run. He played in a couple of sublime crosses that were unfortunately wasted by Gomez and company.

3. Ashley Cole – 8/10

Just proved to the world why he is the best left-back at the moment. Even though his lapse of concentration led to the opening goal, he was very solid at the back and defended his heart & soul out. He made a couple of vital blocks from Robben (one cross and one shot) and later went out scored a well  placed penalty during the shootout.

2. Didier Drogba – 9/10

Drogba was absolute immense on the night as he toiled manfully on his own in attack, and eventually pulled his side level with a powerful header two minutes from time. And when it mattered most, he showed real composure in the shootout to send Neuer the wrong way and win the Champions League for Chelsea.

1. Petr Cech – 9.5/10

Drogba was the official Man of the Match for the game but Cech was our star of the evening. While he hasn’t had the best of seasons this year, he showed why he’s still regarded as a world-class keeper by producing the goods on the biggest of stages. The Czech international came up with a number of excellent stops in the 120 minutes, none better than when he kept out Robben’s penalty, a feat he went on to better in the shootout when he got the slightest – but most vital – of touches to push Schweinsteiger’s effort onto the post.

UEFA Champions League Final Preview – Chelsea v Bayern Munich

Munich is the place to be on Saturday night when two giants of the game, Chelsea and Bayern Munich go head to head against each other with European glory up for grabs in the Champions League final at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern Munich, who are only the 4th team in the history of the Champions League to make it through to the finals in their own backyard, have won four European cups compared to Chelsea’s none. Both teams have had fair share of pain heartbreaks, as far as this competition is concerned, and on both occasions, it was Manchester United that inflicted all the pain. While the Bavarians will never forgot what happened in the dying minutes of the final in 1999 at Nou Camp, the Blues still have nightmares of John Terry’s fateful slip during the penalty shoutout in 2008.

Both sides earned surprise victories over their fancied Spanish opponents in the semi-finals, thus killing the dream of an El-Classico Champions League final. Munich have history on their side as the record twenty-two-time Bundesliga winners march into their 9th Champions League final, while Chelsea on the other hand have made it to the big stage only once previously. Bayern have a good record against English sides in the competition, winning 7 of the 17 ties against teams from the United Kingdom. Although they have lost the final to English opposition on two occasions, against Aston Villa in 1982 and Manchester United.

TEAM NEWS

Chelsea

Chelsea will have defenders David Luiz and Gary Cahill available for selection, with the duo appearing to be winning their fitness battles following hamstring injuries. The news will come as a boost to interim boss Roberto Di Matteo, as regular defenders John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic are serving suspensions along with Ramires and Raul Meireles. Winger Florent Malouda (hamstring) is a doubt, while Didier Drogba should get the nod up front ahead of Fernando Torres.

Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich will be without suspended trio Holger Badstuber, David Alaba and Luiz Gustavo. Defender Breno (knee) is out and Daniel Van Buyten is short of match fitness, so Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Diego Contento are likely to deputise for Badstuber and Alaba respectively. Thomas Muller should get a recall to the starting XI, with Toni Kroos dropping into a deeper midfield role alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger.

ROAD TO MUNICH

Chelsea

13 Sep – Group E – Chelsea 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen (Torres, Mata)
28 Sep – Group E – Valencia 1-1 Chelsea (Lampard)
19 Oct – Group E – Chelsea 5-0 Genk (Meireles, Torres(2), Ivanovic, Kalou)
01 Nov – Group E – Genk 1-1 Chelsea (Ramires)
23 Nov – Group E – Bayer Levekusen 2-1 Cheksea (Drogba)
06 Dec – Group E – Chelsea 3-0 Valencia (Drogba(2), Ramires)

21 Feb – Rnd of 16, 1st Leg – Napoli 3-1 Chelsea (Mata)
14 Mar – Rnd of 16, 2nd Leg – Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (Drogba, Lamaprd, Terry, Ivanovic)
27 Mar – Quarter Finals, 1st Leg – Benfica 0-1 Chelsea (Kalou)
04 Apr – Quarter Finals, 2nd Leg – Chelsea 2-1 Benfica (Lampard, Meireles)
18 Apr – Semi Finals, 1st Leg – Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona (Drogba)
24 Apr – Semi Finals, 2nd Leg – Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea (Ramires, Torres)

Bayern Munich

14 Sep – Group A – Villarreal 0-2 Bayern Munich (Kroos, Rafinha)
27 Sep – Group A – Bayern Munich 2-0 Manchester City (Gomez(2))
18 Oct – Group A – Napoli 1-1 Bayern Munich (Kroos)
02 Nov – Group A – Bayern Munich 3-2 Napoli (Gomez(3))
22 Nov – Group A – Bayern Munich 3-1 Villarreal (Ribery(2), Gomez)
07 Dec – Group A – Manchester City 2-0 Bayern Munich

22 Feb – Rnd of 16, 1st Leg – Basel 1-0 Bayern Munich
13 Mar – Rnd of 16, 2nd Leg – Bayern Munich 7-0 Basel (Robben(2), Muller, Gomez(3))
28 Mar – Quarter Finals, 1st Leg – Marseille 0-2 Bayern Munich (Gomez, Robben)
03 Apr – Quarter Finals, 2nd Leg – Bayern Munich 2-0 Marseille (Olic(2))
17 Apr – Semi Finals, 1st Leg – Bayern Munich 2-1 Real Madrid (Ribery, Gomez)
25 Apr – Semi Finals, 2nd Leg – Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich (Robben)

OVERALL FORM

Chelsea – WLWLW
13 May – Premier League – Chelsea 2-1 Blackburn
09 May – Premier League – Liverpool 4-1 Chelsea
05 May – FA Cup Final – Liverpool 1-2 Chelsea
03 May – Premier League – Chelsea 0-2 Newcastle
29 Apr – Premier League – Chelsea 6-1 QPR

Bayern Munich – LWWLW
12 May – DFB Pokal Final – Dortmund 5-2 Bayern Munich
05 May – Bundesliga – FC Koln 1-4 Bayern Munich
28 Apr – Bundesliga – Bayern Munich 2-0 Stuttgart
26 Apr – Champions League SF, 2nd Leg – Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich
21 Apr – Bundesliga – Werder Bremen 1-2 Bayern Munich

HEAD TO HEAD

12 Apr 05 – Champions League QF, 2nd Leg – Bayern Munich 3-2 Chelsea
06 Apr 05 – Champions League QF, 1st Leg – Chelsea 4-2 Bayern Munich

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Chelsea

David Luiz and Cahill have been training this week and Chelsea will hope the centre-backs can make it in time for Saturday. Di Matteo needs at least one of the pair to be fit to avoid a major catastrophe. If they do make it through, Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole will start on either side, with Jon Obi Mikel holding fort ahead of the backline. Frank Lampard will drop into a deeper midfield role and although Michael Essien is available, the Ghanaian is unlikely to garner a starting berth. With Malouda suffering from an injury too, Di Matteo must decide f he wants to go with both Dider Drogba and Fernando Torres, with the Spaniard starting on the right. Juan Mata will once again be the creative force in the centre while Salomon Kalou is expected to take the left-wing position.

Probable XI (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, David Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Mikel, Lampard(c), Mata; Kalou, Torres, Drogba.

Bayern Munich

The suspensions could actually force Heynckes into a more attacking line-up although Bayern will start in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. Antoliy Tymoschuk might move into the centre-back position alongside Jerome Boateng, with Danijel Pranjic also an option. For the full-back positions, Rafinha could come in at right-back while Phillip Lahm moves to the left or the manager could stick with Lahm on the right and bring in Diego Contento on the left. Bastian Schweinsteiger will be the general in midfield and he is expected to have Kroos for company. With Kroos dropping deep, Muller looks set to join the attack, sandwiched between Ribery and Robben and behind Gomez.

Probable XI (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Rafinha, Boateng, Tymoschuk, Lahm(c); Kroos, Schweinsteiger; Robben, Muller, Riberty; Gomez.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Mario Gomez – Bayern Munich

He has been phenomenal for Bayern Munich this season. He has completely defined the world ‘goalscoring machine’. The German international who joined Bayern from Stuttgart in 2009, has managed to score 40 goals this season out of which 12 have come in the Champions League.

Didier Drogba – Chelsea

He is the man for the big games. Drogba loves playing high-profile matches as it tends to raise his game. He was Chelsea’s key man against Barcelona in the first leg where he scored the all important winner. This may be his last game for Chelsea and he would love to finish his Blues career on a high by winning the coveted Champions league trophy.

Arjen Robben – Bayern Munich

The ex-Chelsea plays has been Bayern’s star since joining the Reds from Real Madrid. The ex-Chelsea man, who scored the all important goal from the penalty in the 2nd leg of the semi finals at the Bernabeu, would be eager to showcase his skills and talent against his former employees.

THE STADIUM

Home to FC Bayern München and TSV 1860 München, the Fußball Arena München will host the 2012 UEFA Champions League final following a decision made by the UEFA Executive Committee in January 2009. The showpiece will take place on Saturday 19 May 2012.

• The Fußball Arena München took less than three years to build from start to finish, and was completed on 30 April 2005. It was conceived following a referendum in October 2001 when 65.8% of Munich’s citizens voted to construct a new arena rather than regenerate the Olympiastadion, venue for the 1972 summer Olympic Games and previous home of Bayern and 1860 München.

• A year to the day after that vote, work commenced on the stadium, including the construction of the unique exterior. The Fußball Arena München’s transparent outer wall is comprised of foil panels which are lit from the inside and can change colour depending on who is playing; red for Bayern, blue for 1860 München and white for Germany.

• The arena opened its doors to competitive football on 5 August 2005 when a full house of 66,000 watched Bayern defeat VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-0. In January 2006, city authorities approved a 3,901 increase in capacity which means the stadium can now house 69,901 supporters. Some of these reside in standing terraces which are created for domestic games by converting 10,400 seats in each of the north and south stands.

• Located on Werner-Heisenberg-Allee – named after famous German atomic physicist and 1932 Nobel Prize for Physics winner Werner Heisenberg – the Fußball Arena München played host to the opening game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Germany’s 4-2 victory against Costa Rica. A further five matches in the tournament were played at the arena, including France’s 1-0 semi-final win against Portugal.

• While some 106 VIP boxes, 400 media seats and 11,000 parking spaces cater for those attending the game, the players make do with two warm-up rooms, a nursery and four changing rooms – one each for Bayern, 1860 München and their respective opponents.

• The Olympiastadion hosted three European Champion Clubs’ Cup finals. Trevor Francis’s strike earned Nottingham Forest FC victory against Malmö FF in 1979 and there was also only one goal in it 24 years later when Olympique de Marseille beat AC Milan to claim the inaugural UEFA Champions League title. In 1997 two Karl-Heinz Riedle efforts set BV Borussia Dortmund on course for a 3-1 win against Juventus.

(source: uefa.com)

THE MATCH BALL

The official match ball for the 2012 UEFA Champions League final – the adidas Finale Munich – has been officially presented at the venue for this season’s showpiece match, the Fußball Arena München.

As the 12th adidas supplied match ball for a UEFA Champions League final, the adidas Finale Munich will be the first “final ball” to be used throughout the UEFA Champions League knockout stages and not just for the final itself.

The ball’s graphics are inspired by the shape of the Fußball Arena München and they enhance its iconic starball logo design, while the blue and acqua tones are strongly influenced by the reflection of modern local architectural materials, which also build the UEFA Champions League Final Munich 2012 brand identity.

The adidas Finale Munich makes its debut tonight when the UEFA Champions League resumes with two of the eight round of 16 ties – the first leg matches between Olympique Lyonnais and APOEL FC, and Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Barcelona. The UEFA Champions League final takes place in the Bavarian city on Saturday 19 May.

(source: uefa.com)

THE TROPHY 

The current UEFA Champions League trophy, which stands 73.5cm tall and weighs 8.5kg, is the sixth overall and dates back to 2006.

A rule introduced in the 1968/69 season allowed the cup to become the property of any club which won the competition five times or three years in a row. That means Real Madrid CF, AFC Ajax, FC Bayern München, AC Milan and, since 2005, Liverpool FC all have an original in their trophy rooms. Under new regulations, any club which wins the trophy three consecutive times or five times in total receives a special mark of recognition, with the club then starting a new cycle from zero.

The trophy that the winning captain will lift at Wembley Stadium in London is the fifth version of the current design. After Real Madrid were allowed to keep the original in 1967, UEFA’s General Secretary, Hans Bangerter, decided to create a new design and called in a local specialist in Berne, Jürg Stadelmann.

“My father Hans and I went along to Herr Bangerter’s office and covered the whole floor with the drawings,” recalled Stadelmann. “He made comments like, ‘The Bulgarians would like the bottom of that. The Spaniards would like that, but the Italians would prefer that and the Germans would go for this bit.’ We put the design together like a jigsaw puzzle. It was a design constituted of many parts yet I like it and I think everyone in football likes it as well.

“I remember that it had to be finished before 28 March,” Stadelmann added, “because I was getting married and taking my wife on a ten-day boat trip to Los Angeles. The trophy took 340 hours to make. I did the finer work, then it was finished off by the engraver, Fred Bänninger. On time, I am glad to say.”

(source: uefa.com)

THE REFEREE

Pedro Proença of Portugal will take charge of Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final between FC Bayern München and Chelsea FC at the Fußball Arena München (Munich, 20.45CET).

Proença, a financial director from Pinhal Novo, will be assisted by countrymen Bertino Miranda and Ricardo Santos. The fourth official will be Carlos Velasco Carballo from Spain. The two additional assistant referees are Jorge Sousa and Duarte Gomes, while reserve assistant referee – Tiago Trigo – completes the lineup of the officiating team.

The 41-year-old Proença, who made his international debut in 2003, has officiated more than 65 UEFA matches in a refereeing career that has been on the rise ever since he took charge of UEFA European Under-19 Championship final in 2004.

He refereed the 2007 and 2010 Portuguese Cup finals and also ran the rule over two FC Porto successes in the domestic Super Cup in August 2003 and 2006. The Portuguese took charge of two UEFA EURO 2008 qualifiers and was at the 2009 UEFA European U21 Championship, overseeing three games as a referee and acting as fourth official in Germany’s 4-0 final defeat of England.

Promoted to UEFA’s Elite category at the start of 2009/10, he oversaw four games in that season’s UEFA Champions League group stage and five in the 2010/11 competition, including Manchester United FC’s defeat of FC Schalke 04 in the semi-final second leg.

Proença has handled five UEFA Champions League matches since the beginning of the current season, including, among others, the round of 16 second leg between FC Internazionale Milano and Olympique de Marseille, as well as two UEFA Europa League matches, including the first leg of the quarter-final between FC Schalke 04 and Athletic Club.

(source: uefa.com)

THE AMBASSADOR 

Having lifted the European Champion Clubs’ Cup for FC Bayern München, scored in Germany’s victorious FIFA World Cup final in Munich and been brought up just 50km away there are few people better placed than Paul Breitner to act as ambassador for the 2012 UEFA Champions League final at the Fußball Arena Munchen on 19 May.

The former Real Madrid CF midfielder saw it all in a glittering 13-year player career, but the return of club football’s biggest game to Munich for a fourth time, and first at the new stadium, is a source of great pride for the 60-year-old. “The Champions League final next year in May is the highlight of the whole season, for the city of Munich and for Bayern,” he told UEFA.com. “The people of Munich, including me, think we have the most beautiful city in the world.”

As well as being a tourist attraction, Munich is also a footballing hotbed and the Fußball Arena Munchen, which opened in 2005 and houses almost 70,000 spectators for Bundesliga matches, is home to both TSV 1860 München and Bayern, Germany’s most successful club. And it was with the three-time European champions that Breitner first made his name in some 41 years ago.

“In 1970, it was a time of evolutionary change at Bayern Munich. Uli Hoeness, the current club president, and I arrived at the right time to grow into the team, to learn from Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller. We went through a development phase which led us, after our fourth season, to play in our first European Cup final, winning against Atlético Madrid in a replay after drawing the first match.”

That victory came in May 1974, two years after Breitner had helped West Germany win the UEFA European Championship, and two months before he lifted the World Cup. He would go on to become one of his country’s most successful footballers, winning five Bundesliga titles with Bayern and two Spanish championships with Madrid. In 1982 he became only the third player after Brazilians Vavá and Pelé to score in two World Cup finals (an elite club since joined by Zinédine Zidane).

(source: uefa.com)

BETTING ODDS

Match Result
Bayern Munich – 5/6
Draw – 14/5
Chelsea – 16/5

Correct Score
Bayern Munich 1-0 – 11/2
Draw 0-0 – 10/1
Chelsea 1-0 – 10/1
Bayern Munich 2-0 – 7/1
Draw 1-1 – 11/2
Chelsea 2-0 – 20/1
Bayern Munich 2-1 – 15/2
Draw 2-2 – 16/1
Chelsea 2-1 – 12/1
Bayern Munich 3-0 – 14/1
Draw 3-3 – 66/1
Chelsea 3-0 – 50/1
Bayern Munich 3-1 – 12/1
Draw 4-4 – 150/1
Chelsea 3-1 – 33/1

Half Time/Full Time
Bayern Munich / Bayern Munich – 15/8
Draw / Bayern Munich – 7/2
Chelsea / Bayern Munich – 20/1
Bayern Munich / Draw – 16/1
Draw / Draw – 5/1
Chelsea / Draw – 16/1
Bayern Munich / Chelsea – 28/1
Draw / Chelsea – 17/2
Chelsea / Chelsea – 13/2

Under/Over 2.5 Goals
Under 2.5 Goals – 4/5
Over 2.5 Goals – 10/11

Both Teams to Score
Yes – 5/6
No – 5/6

To Lift the Trophy
Bayern Munich – 4/9
Chelsea – 7/4

Goalscorer
No Chelsea Goalscorer – 11/8
Didier Drogba – 11/4
Mario Gomez – 11/4
Fernando Torres – 3/1
Arjen Robben – 7/2
No Bayern Munich Goalscorer – 7/2
Franck Ribery – 4/1
Frank Lampard – 9/2
Nils Petersen – 9/2
Daniel Sturridge – 9/2

Winning Margin
Bayern Munich by Exactly 1 Goal – 5/2
Chelsea by Exactly 1 Goal – 11/2
Bayern Munich by Exactly 2 Goals – 4/1
Chelsea by Exactly 2 Goals – 14/1
Bayern Munich by 3 or more Goals – 11/2
Chelsea by 3 or more Goals – 40/1

(source: skybet.com)

PREDICTION

The defensive absentees could make this game an open game of football and as with any final one can only hope this doesn’t turn out to be one boring cagey affair. Drogba will be a threat for any centre-back pairing that Bayern start with but at the same time the same thing can be said about Mario Gomez at the other end. With John Terry suspended and both David Luiz and Gary Cahill just coming back from injuries it would be very difficult for the Blues to defend against a very strong and attacking Bayern side. Expect Bayern to attack a lot, while Chelsea would be happy to hit the hosts on the counter.

Bayern Munich 2-1 Chelsea

Chelsea v Liverpool – 7 Things We Learned From The FA Cup Final

Chelsea won a dramatic FA Cup final as they beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley. Into The Top Corner looks at the 7 things we learned from the FA Cup Final. 

1. Ramires And Drogba Rise To The occasion Yet Again

Ramires is fast becoming Chelsea’s big-game hero after his tenacious first-half goal spurred his side on to victory. The Brazilian midfielder outmuscled and outpaced José Enrique and showed superb composure to finish past the wrong-footed Pepe Reina. It was the 25-year-old’s third goal in six games, with his other strikes coming at the Camp Nou in the Champions League semi-final and a smart finish against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup last-four. Ramires brings energy to an otherwise ageing Chelsea team and his willingness to burst forward but also complete his defensive duties make the former Benfica midfielder a valuable player of Di Matteo’s side. Didier Drogba, meanwhile, deserves a mention after becoming the first player to score in four FA Cup finals with his 52nd-minute strike to double the Blues’ lead. Cup finals are a happy hunting ground for Chelsea and the Ivorian.

2. Henderson and Spearing Overwhelmed

Liverpool’s season has been hampered by injury to Lucas Leiva and coupled with Charlie Adam’s absence since March, Kenny Dalglish has been forced to rely on inexperienced duo Jordan Henderson and Spearing to partner captain Steven Gerrard in midfield. The duo struggled to cope with their experienced rivals Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Ramires. Spearing carelessly conceded possession for Chelsea’s first goal and it was a common thing throughout a torrid 55 minutes for the Liverpool youth graduate, who was replaced by Carroll. Henderson, signed from Sunderland in a £20m deal last summer, struggled to find any passing momentum and the England Under-21 captain was content to play the ball sideways or backwards, lacking any penetration. It left Suárez starved off possession and suited the Blues’ defence who held a high line, with Liverpool lacking conviction going forward.

3. Carroll Showing Some Signs Of His Talent

Andy Carroll’s impact was the sole consolation in a disappointing performance by Liverpool. The 23-year-old replaced Jay Spearing in the 55th minute and handed the Merseysiders the initiative in the second half. The England striker, who moved to Anfield in a record £35m deal in January 2011, scored his fourth goal in the FA Cup this season, equalling his Premier League tally for the season. He showed neat footwork to deceive John Terry and cut down Chelsea’s advantage with 27 minutes remaining. The former Newcastle United forward was a constant threat to the Chelsea back-four and could have snatched a late equaliser for Liverpool. Luis Suárez’s cross reached Carroll at the back post but Petr Cech produced a full-stretch save to deny the Reds a leveller, despite Liverpool claiming that the ball had crossed the line.

4. Was It Over The Line Or Not – You Decide 

Andy Carroll powered a header from a Luis Suarez cross and thought he had scored. But the celebrations were cut short as the officials ruled Cech had clawed the ball out before it had completely crossed the line. Even after half a dozen replays, there was no clear verdict either way, meaning the linesman, with one look, was in an impossible situation. But the occasion is still sure to cause much debate, particularly over goal-line technology matters. There was a similar incident in the semi final between Chelsea and Tottenham where Juan Mata was awarded the goal and to some effect it changed the game. In this game, had it counted as a goal, the impetus Liverpool were carrying may have been enough to see them through to win the trophy. We’ll never know.

5. Chelsea Are Cup Kings

Roberto Di Matteo’s short spell in charge has already delivered its first piece of silverware. The Blues interim boss has led his side to four wins and a draw in the FA Cup – and has an identical record in Europe. If the 41-year-old can guide the Stamford Bridge outfit to their first Champions League crown then Roman Abramovich surely has to hand the Italian the position permanently. For Chelsea, Saturday’s win caps a dominant spell in England’s premier cup competition – it is their fourth FA Cup success in six years and they join Liverpool as seven-time winners. The Blues still also have the chance to become only the second team to win the FA Cup and Champions League in the same season after Manchester United’s memorable treble in 1999.

6. John Terry Makes History

John Terry lifted his fourth FA Cup as Chelsea after the 2-1 win over Liverpool, becoming the first post-war player to do so. All of Chelsea’s four cup wins have come since 2007, with Blues claiming almost sole ownership of the FA Cup in recent times. This succeed will without doubt will be the most important to him as he will be forced to sit out of the Champions League final later this month after receiving a direct red card in the 2nd Leg of the semi final against Barcelona.

7. Two Cup Finals And A Distant League Finish – Is It Enough?

The feeling before the FA Cup final seemed to be that should they win a domestic cup double this season, then that would make up for Premier League disappointment to such an extent that the season could be classed a success. They didn’t, though. Therefore Liverpool end the season with a Carling Cup trophy, and a finish in the league which could be seventh at the highest or as low as 10th if they fail to win both of their remaining two fixtures. Sp what now for Kenny Dalglish? He has integrated a host of new players into the team this season, but a year after they arrived there are still obvious deficiencies in the squad. Injured Lucas Leiva hasn’t helped matters, but neither can one missing man account for all the dropped points at Anfield. A big summer is ahead for the Reds as they look to bring some more new players in, and Dalglish leading the club to two finals might just be enough to ensure he is still he man in charge to bring them some success.

Chelsea v Liverpool – 6 Spectacular Cup Clashes

When Chelsea face Liverpool in the FA Cup final it will be a remarkable 31st meeting between the two clubs since 2004, with a Premier League clash to follow just three days later. 

Hardly a season has passed in the past eight years without these teams being paired against each other in one cup competition or another – including a League Cup quarter-final earlier in the 2011/12 season – which has added to their always competitive league games.

Here, Into The Top Corner looks back at the 6 best cup clashes…

1. Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool – Carling Cup Final 2005

John Arne Riise volleyed Liverpool ahead after 45 seconds but Steven Gerrard scored a 79th-minute own goal. Blues boss Jose Mourinho was sent off for taunting Liverpool fans after the goal and he watched on television as his side went on to win the game. Drogba and Kezman scored from close range before Antonio Nunez’s header made for a tense finale. It was an amazing climax which gave Mourinho his first silverware as Chelsea manager. Yet it was controversial too, after Mourinho’s sending off, apparently for putting his finger to his lips to hush the Liverpool fans.

2. Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea – Champions League Semi Final 2005, 2nd Leg

Liverpool led inside four minutes when Milan Baros beat Petr Cech to the ball and Luis Garcia tapped in, despite Chelsea claiming it did not cross the line. Liverpool’s defence did the rest as they withstood everything Chelsea’s ineffective attack could throw at them. Chelsea’s best chance came deep into injury time but Eidur Gudjohnsen thrashed a volley just wide. After drawing 0-0 in the first leg at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool knew they needed a goal, but even they could not have envisaged doing it so early.

3. Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool, FA Cup Semi Final 2006

Liverpool ended Chelsea’s hopes of a domestic Double with victory at Old Trafford in their FA Cup semi-final. Didier Drogba missed two gilt-edged chances for Chelsea before John Arne Riise’s free-kick put the Reds ahead. Luis Garcia brilliantly half-volleyed in from 20 yards to extend Liverpool’s lead but Drogba headed in to set up an enthralling end to the game. Chelsea then put their rivals under siege and Joe Cole blazed a late chance over as Liverpool clung on for the win.

4. Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea (1-1 on agg, Liverpool win 4-1 on penalties), Champions League Semi Final 2007, 2nd Leg

Liverpool booked their place in the Champions League final with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win in the semi-final second leg at Anfield. Dirk Kuyt scored the crucial spot-kick to clinch a 4-1 win after Arjen Robben and Geremi had missed for the Blues. Daniel Agger cancelled out Chelsea’s first-leg lead in the first half with a crisp finish from Steven Gerrard’s superbly disguised left-wing free-kick. Kuyt also rattled the bar with a fine header after the break. Chelsea’s best chance saw Didier Droga denied by Pepe Reina and the big striker was also inches away from turning in Ashley Cole’s cross after the break. But Liverpool were good value for their win in a game that had plenty of excitement but lacked real quality.

5. Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool, Champions League Semi Final 2008, 2nd Leg

Didier Drogba scored twice as Chelsea swept into their first Champions League final at the expense of Liverpool on a night of high drama at Stamford Bridge. The Ivorian opened the scoring with a 12-yard strike, but Fernando Torres’s drive sent the game into extra-time. Frank Lampard restored the lead from the spot after Michael Ballack had been felled, before Drogba prodded a third. Ryan Babel’s 35-yarder prompted a tense finale, but Chelsea held on to seal a tie with Manchester United in Moscow.

6. Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool, Champions League Quarter Final 2009, 2nd Leg

Chelsea survived a huge scare before drawing one of the most entertaining Champions League games of recent times to seal a 7-5 aggregate win over Liverpool and book a semi-final against Barcelona. Guus Hiddink’s team led 3-1 after the first leg at Anfield but Fabio Aurelio’s free-kick after an awful misjudgement from Petr Cech and Xabi Alonso’s penalty put Liverpool in control at the break. Jose Reina fumbled Didier Drogba’s deft touch into his own net and Alex’s thunderbolt free-kick levelled the scores on the night with two goals in six dramatic second-half minutes. The inspirational Frank Lampard put the Blues 3-2 ahead, slotting home Drogba’s intelligent cross. The tie looked finished but Liverpool were not done yet and Lucas Leiva’s deflected strike was quickly followed by Dirk Kuyt’s near-post header. It was 4-3 to Liverpool with seven minutes of normal time remaining and Stamford Bridge was stunned, while the Reds required just one more goal to complete a sensational victory on away goals. But Lampard converted Nicolas Anelka’s pass to level at 4-4 in the final dramatic action of a truly memorable game of football. Liverpool were without their skipper Steven Gerrard because of an injury but came close to pulling off a memorable victory without their inspirational leader.