Tag Archives: Gary Cahill

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 18

Chelsea-TOTW

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting eighteenth gameweek in the Premier League. Chelsea and Liverpool provide not one, two or three but four players each, while there is one each from Manchester City, Manchester United and Reading.

Adam Federici (Reading)

Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan was one of the top performers of the week as he was virtually playing alone against Chelsea, but on a matter of principle I just couldn’t select a keeper who conceded eight goals in a match and so I went with Federici. The Reading goalie frustrated the Premier League champions Manchester City for 90 minutes and was very unlucky to concede a stoppage time goal in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium.

Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City)

Manchester City have yet to hit top gear but they still remain very much in the hunt to retain their Premier League title. It is fair to say that not everyone at City is pulling their weight at the moment but it would be harsh if its said the same about Pablo Zabaleta. The right-back has been in terrific form and if it wasn’t for his persistence – and cross for Gareth Barry’s winning goal – City would not have eked out Saturday’s late win.

Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)

The Serbian was given one of the toughest jobs of the weekend – mark the inform Christian Benteke. He and Gary Cahill combined well to nullify the Belgian’s threat very effectively, recording a clean sheet in the 8-0 thrashing of Aston Villa on Sunday. He even managed to increase his goal tally for the season with a poacher’s goal after Cahill’s shot was palmed his way.

Martin Skrtel (Liverpool)

To be honest, Saturday’s action Premier League action fell dull until the late kick-off between Liverpool and Fulham at Anfield. The goal which brought the weekend to life was just superb from defender Martin Skrtel. A nice touch to control the ball before unleashing an unstoppable volley past Mark Schwarzer to open the floodgates for the Reds on their way to a 4-0 win over the Cottagers.

Patrice Evra (Manchester United)

Its been a funny season for Manchester United at the back. Their defenders are leaking goals but at the same time scoring at the other end of the pitch. Evra is a perfect example of this during Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Swansea. The Frenchman did superbly well to score with a header from a Robin van Persie corner but then was caught out of position as Michu equalised for the Swans.

David Luiz (Chelsea)

Chelsea may have scored eight against Aston Villa, but none was better than David Luiz’s freekick. It was very similar to how Didier Drogba used to hit them for the Blues. It was not only the Brazilian’s goal which earns him a place in the Team of the Week. Played just in front of the back-four, Luiz looked right at home in the Obi Mikel role and the African must surely be a worried man now.

Ramires (Chelsea)

The Brazilian did not even start the game but yet he makes our Team of the Week. The midfielder, who is not known for his goal scoring, came on in the second half for Frank Lampard in Chelsea’s thrashing of Aston Villa on Sunday, and ended the match as one of the star performers and became the only player to score more than once in that match. He scored the Blues’s fifth and eighth goal of the night.

Stewart Downing (Liverpool)

Downing makes the Premier League Team for the first time ever. Perhaps this is what the Mayans were referring to? Back in his regular role of a winger, the former Aston Villa wide man put in an excellent performance in Liverpool’s easy win on Saturday. He set Steven Gerrard for the hosts’ second goal of the night and scored one himself in the second half. His first assist and goal in the Premier League since joining the Reds last season.

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

Competition in midfield is tough this week given Chelsea’s hammering of Aston Villa but there was no chance of leaving Steven Gerrard out. The Liverpool skipper has been in patchy form this season as he adjusts to Brendan Rodgers’ style of play. However, we saw the Gerrard of the old as the Liverpool legend provided two assists for his teammates, but also got his own name on the score sheet too.

Eden Hazard (Cheslea)

After a blistering start to life in the Premier League, Eden Hazard has positively cooled off. Any worries should be abated now, though, as the Belgian wizard ran riot on The Blues’ left flank against Aston Villa. His holding midfield duo controlled the game and were able to find him regularly, so he had ample opportunities to shine. He also got himself on score sheet by scoring his side’s seventh goal of the night.

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

Suarez was back to his best on Saturday. The Uruguayan bagged the final goal of four against Fulham and it was a perfect reward for his efforts all game long. Even though the goal came very late and technically unimportant at the stage of a comprehensive rout, it was important for Liverpool’s only injury free senior striker to get back among the goals after failing to score for more than a month.

TOTW GW 18

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Chelsea v Manchester United Preview

First meets second in the Premier League on Super Sunday as Chelsea host Manchester United in arguably the biggest game of the season so far and one that could have long term consequences on the title race. 

Chelsea currently have a four-point lead in the table and so will remain at the top no matter what happens in London on Sunday. But Sir Alex Ferguson will want his side to deliver some psychological damage on Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea, who lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in their midweek defence of the Champions League.

United, who came from two goals down to pick up a 3-2 win over Braga in Europe thanks to the heroics of Javier Hernandez, also visit Stamford Bridge with some reason to be confident. Last season’s Premier League runners-up have won four and drawn one of the last five matches against Chelsea in all competitions. But the Red Devils have also won just one of the last 12 trips to Stamford Bridge in all competitions, while Chelsea have won 10 and lost just one of their last 13 Premier League home games.

TEAM NEWS

Chelsea

The Blues will be without the services of their experience duo – John Terry and Frank Lampard. The Chelsea skipper continues to serve his four-match ban for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, who is the brother of Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand. While, Lampard sustained a calf injury against Shakhtar Donetsk in the midweek and has been ruled for ‘ a few weeks’. Marko Marin has been training for the past couple of weeks and is expected to be in the squad for Sunday. There are no other absentees meaning Di Matteo is expected to name the same XI that won 4-2 at Tottenham last weekend.

Manchester United

Manchester United will be without their Japanese playermaker Shinji Kagawa for three to four weeks due to the knee injury he picked up in his side’s comeback win over Braga. Chris Smalling and Ashley Young are back training for a week and therefore could make the bench at Stamford Bridge, while United hope Phil Jones will start full training in November. Sir Alex Ferguson has no other fitness concerns, except for the long-term absentee Nemanja Vidic (knee), in his squad and will have to decide what to do with his striker problems after Javier Hernandez’s man-of-the-match performance in the midweek.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 163
Chelsea Wins – 44
Draw – 48
Manchester United Wins – 71

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

05-Feb-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 3-3 Manchester United
18-Sep-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea
08-May-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
12-Apr-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
06-Apr-12 – Champions League – Chelsea 0-1 Manchester United

FORM GUIDE

Chelsea – LWWWW
The Blues are in superb form this season and are early the favourites to win the title, as they are four points clear at the top of the table winning seven of their eight Premier League matches this season.

23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Chelsea
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Chelsea
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 4-1 Norwich City
02-Oct-12 – Champions League – FC Norsdjaelland 0-4 Chelsea
29-Sep-12 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Manchester United – WWWWL
United come into this match on the back of four back-to-back wins in all competitions and are sitting second behind their hosts for Sunday in the Premier League table.

23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 3-2 Braga
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 4-2 Stoke City
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester United
02-Oct-12 – Champions League – CFR Cluj 1-2 Manchester United
29-Sep-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Juan Mata (Chelsea)
The little Spaniard has been in great form this season and is surely one of the early contenders for the Player of the Year award. It was thought that the big money captures of Oscar and Eden Hazard might stop him from playing in his number 10 role for the club, but it has not. Instead he has got even better and has already scored three and created five goals in eight league matches so far. The United defence will have to be at their very best and disallow him the space he loves to get into, if they are to get a result on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
The England international is at his very best since his return from the thigh injury he picked up against Fulham at the start of the season. Many people suggested that the arrival of Robin van Persie will see Rooney being frozen out at United, but it has not been so. The duo have flourished as a strike partnership and the Englishman, who has scored three times in his last two visits to Stamford Bridge, has scored twice and assisted four times in the last three league games. There is no doubt the versatile striker will be United’s main man on Sunday and if the Blues can keep him quiet for the whole game then they have a great chance of getting all three points from the game.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech (C); Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Ashley Cole; Ramires, John Obi Mikel; Oscar, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata; Fernando Torres.

John Terry misses the match because of his four-match suspension meaning Gary Cahill, who was benched for the midweek Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk comes back in the side to partner David Luiz in the heart of the defence. Frank Lampard, who picked up a knock in midweek, is expected to make way for Eden Hazard. Ramires will partner Mikel in the midfield, while Hazard will regain his spot in the side alongside Oscar and Juan Mata. Underperforming Fernando Torres is likely to start as the lone striker up front ahead of Daniel Sturridge.

Manchester United (4-1-2-1-2): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Michael Carrick; Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes; Wayne Rooney; Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez.

With Anders Lindegaard still recovering from the thump injury he picked up in training, David De Gea will start in between the sticks for the Red Devils. Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra are expected to return to the side after being rested in the midweek. Michael Carrick, who looked very unconventional in defence against Braga, will be moved up the field to play in his natural position on Sunday alongside Antonio Valencia and Paul Scholes in midfield and Wayne Rooney at the top of the diamond. Javier Hernandez, who scored the late equaliser in 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge last season, could be picked ahead of Danny Welbeck to partner Robin van Persie in attack.

OPTA FACTS

  • 0 – Chelsea have a superb home record against United, as they have never lost to the Red Devils in their last 10 meetings at Stamford Bridge.
  • 1 – Chelsea have gone into the break behind only once in the eight league matches this season.
  • 2 – David Luiz has scored in both of his appearances for Chelsea against United at Stamford Bridge.
  • 4 – Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have only been in front at half-time four times in 12 matches this season, and have gone on to win all four.
  • 4 – Javier Hernandez has scored in four of the seven clashes with Chelsea.
  • 5 – Wayne Rooney has scored five goals in his last six appearances in all competitions against Chelsea.
  • 5 – Robin van Persie has scored five times at Stamford Bridge; the best record of any visiting player.
  • 6 – Fernando Torres has scored six goals in 14 appearances for Chelsea this season, and is just one shy of total from last season.
  • 18 – In their last 30 meeting in all competitions, both the sides have got on the scoresheet on 18 occasions.

REFEREE

Name – Mark Clattenburg
Based – Durham
Age – 37
Games – 6
Yellow Cards – 24
Red Cards – 2

MATCH ODDS

Chelsea 7/5, Draw 9/4, Manchester United 21/10

PREDICTION

Chelsea are four points clear at the top of the table and a win on Sunday will see them going seven points ahead of United. The Red Devils, on the other hand, will put their best foot forward to pull Chelsea back. Goals are written all over this game, in the corresponding fixture last season Chelsea squandered a three-goal lead and were pegged back to 3-3. But both the sides have changed considerably since their last league meeting. Robin van Persie, who is the league’s top goal scorer with six goals, is expected to lead United’s onslaught alongside Wayne Rooney. However, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are in top form and given the weaknesses in both the defences, we are in store for a treat.

Predicted Score: Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 8

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting eighth weekend in the Premier League. Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have provided two players each, while there is one each from Fulham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Norwich and West Ham.

Joe Hart (Manchester City) 

He was criticized for the goal England conceded in Poland during midweek, but the City keeper was back to his best against West Brom. He couldn’t do much about the goal, but kept his side in the game late on, with two very important stops from Romelu Lukaku that allowed Edin Dzeko to come up with a late winner.

Chris Baird (Fulham)

The Fulham right-back scored the only goal of the match helping the Cottagers beat Aston Villa at Craven Cottage. He capped a solid display for his side with a goal as he provided the finish after getting at the end of a John Arne Riise corner and also helped his side keep a clean sheet.

Gary Cahill (Chelsea)

The England international was only in the side for the suspended John Terry, but was calm and collected at the back and put in one of his best performances of the season in the important 4-2 win over Tottenham. He also got his name on the score-sheet as he opened the scoring with a thumping volley.

Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United)

The Newcastle skipper was back in the side after fully recovering from his injury and he led by example. He was as solid as a rock at the heart of the defence and with the Magpies down to 10-men after just 25 minutes, he put in a shift for two. His side may well have collect all three points if he would have lasted the whole game.

Javier Garrido (Norwich City)

He may not have scored the winning goal, but the former City full-back was one of chief architects of Norwich’s historical win over Arsenal on Saturday. He put in a fine defensive performance and at the same time was very good in supporting the counter-attacks. He kept the Gunners’ right wing relatively quiet and restricted them to very few chances.

Juan Mata (Chelsea)

He is getting better & better by each game and is surely an early contender for the Player of the Year award. The little Spaniard responded perfectly to the national team snub by helping his side to a comeback win at White Hart Lane against his former boss Andre Villas-Boas. He scored twice and assisted once to keep Roberto Di Matteo’s side at the top of the table.

Mark Noble (West Ham United)

Noble has been playing in the Premier League for most of his career but his performance on Saturday was one of his best. He put in a commanding display, scoring twice (once from the spot) in the important 4-1 win over Southampton. His drive and determination in midfield made Hammers look good.

Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)

He is one special talent and is getting stronger with every game. He became the second youngest scorer – after Michael Owen – for Liverpool when he scored the winner against Reading. He has huge potential in him to become oen the best in England and it looks like he is on the right track under Brendan Rodgers’ guidance.

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)

The Dutchman was again at his classy best against Stoke and it was another example of how dangerous the partnership between Van Persie and Rooney is going to be. His brilliant left wing cross resulted to Rooney’s equaliser and then he himself got on the score-sheet with sublime finish just before the interval.

Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)

The Bosnian may only have been on the pitch for just over 10 minutes but he completely transformed the tie as he netted City’s both goals in the 2-1 win at the Hawthorns. A trademark header got the 10-men City leveled and in stoppage-time he calmly finished off a flowing counter attack to grab what could be a crucial winner.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

A few months ago people were suggesting that Rooney and Van Persie couldn’t play in the same team and he will have to get used to life on the bench. Fast forward to mid October and the England international looks at his very best as he celebrated his decade in the Premier League. Scored an own goal, but responded brilliantly with two well taken goals at the right end. The second being his 200th in club football.

Predicting Chelsea and United’s Starting XI For Today’s UCL Matches

The current league leaders Chelsea and nineteen time English champions Manchester United face each other in Sunday’s huge Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge, but before that they have some Champions League business to attend. 

The defending champions, Chelsea make the trip to Ukraine to battle it out against joint group leader Shakhtar Donetsk, while Manchester United – who failed to make it past the group stages last term – face Portuguese side Braga at Old Trafford. Both the managers will be keen to get all the three points today, but at the same time they face some selection dilemmas about who to rest and keep fresh ahead of the huge clash on Sunday.

Here at IntoTheTopCorner, we predict the starting XIs for both, Chelsea and Manchester United keeping in mind Sunday’s important Premier League clash.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Bransilav Ivanovic, John Terry (C), David Luiz, Ashley Cole; John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard; Juan Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard; Fernando Torres.

Roberto Di Matteo’s side haven’t picked any new injuries during the Tottenham game and the Italian isn’t expected to make a lot of changes to his line-up. Captain John Terry, who is banned for four domestic games, is expected to make the return in the heart of the defence in place of Gary Cahill. Full-backs Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole will have to be at their best against Shakhtar’s dangerous wingers. Frank Lampard, who was a late substitute in the 4-2 win at White Hart Lane, could get the nod in midfield instead of Ramires. The former West Brom boss is expected to play the same attacking four which scored four past Tottenham, with Juan Mata and Eden Hazard starting on the wings, while Oscar playing in the hole behind Fernando Torres.

Manchester United (4-1-2-1-2): Anders Lindegaard; Rafael, Scott Wootton, Jonny Evans, Alexander Buttner; Darren Fletcher; Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa; Wayne Rooney; Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck.

Sir Alex Ferguson rested a number of players for Stoke’s visit after the hectic international fixtures, with Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa and Darren Fletcher not evening making the squad. The trio will straight away be drafted in to the starting XI for today’s game. With David De Gea having started the previous two Premier League games, Anders Lindegaard is expected to start in goal for the Red Devils. Keeping in mind Sunday’s big game, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand are rested, which means youngster Scott Wootton and summer signing Alexander Buttner are expected to start in the defence along with Rafael and Jonny Evans. Robin van Persie – United’s top goal scorer in all competitions – could also be rested, that could see Javier Hernandez start along side Danny Welbeck in attack with Wayne Rooney playing at the top of the midfield diamond.

John Terry Quits England, But Is The FA To Blame For It?

John Terry has sensationally announced his retirement from intenational football less than 24 hours before the Football Association hearing into the Anton Ferdinand saga is expected to begin.

The Chelsea defender, 31, was cleared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in July of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League game. But Terry, who won 78 caps, still faces a Football Association disciplinary hearing over the matter on today (Monday). The Chelsea captain said he could not play for England because of the FA’s decision to pursue charges against him and his position with the England national team was now “untenable”.

In a statement, John Terry said:

“I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.

“Representing and captaining my country is what I dreamed of as a boy and it has been a truly great honour. I have always given my all and it breaks my heart to make this decision. I want to wish Roy and the team every success for the future.

“I now look forward to playing for Chelsea and challenging for domestic and European honours, and I want to thank the fans and the club for their continued support.

“I would like to thank the England managers who have selected me for my 78 caps. I have had great pleasure in sharing that honour with all the players that I’ve played with. I would like to thank them, the fans and my family for their support and encouragement during my international career.”

England face a couple of World Cup qualifiers next month. First they welcome San Marino to Wembley and then, four days later, face Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland in Warsaw.

Is The England FA to Blame for it?

John Terry claiming his position in the England team “untenable” or the lack of the support from the governing body is complete ‘nonsense’. The Chelsea skipper is the author of his own downfall and there is no one else to blame for it.

Whether it was the Wayne Bridge saga, the dispute with Anton Ferdinand and subsequent fallout with Rio Ferdinand or the impression he gave that the England armband belonged to him, Terry had become a poisonous asset during the international week. Keeping aside his performances on the pitch, he brought with himself too much additional baggage whenever he boarded the England bus.

The FA charge he faces this week has become almost incidental in the public’s eyes. Even if Terry’s name is cleared, the storm clouds won’t automatically go away. His unpopularity will remain. He represents much of the arrogance and ego that alienates many people from modern football.

If he was chasing for any sympathy by yesterday’s swipe at the FA, then it’s unlikely to happen. He calling his position in the England team “untenable” isn’t true at all. He was continued to be picked by England managers during his troubled times. First Fabio Capello and then Roy Hodgson. The current England boss backed him strongly during his squad selection for the Euros, a tactic that looks even more doubtful now that Terry has walked away.

Terry’s inclusion in the Euro 2012 squad came at the expense of Rio Ferdinand. Nobody fully believed Hodgson’s reason that the Manchester United defender was omitted “for footballing reasons”. It was all to do with the dressing-room dynamic, with the tension between the pair following Terry’s dispute with Ferdinand’s brother Anton. Hodgson took him to Poland and Ukraine, he behaved but his presence was always an issue.

What Next For England?

For all the off field controversey he caused, his 78 caps with England should be remembered for his never ending commitment on the pitch. He is a proud, patriotic individual and this decision to quit from representing his country will have been a painful one. Along with Steven Gerrard, Terry was England’s best play in Poland and Ukraine.

Terry’s absence will be felt in the dressing-room but the national team will survive without him. His Chelsea team-mate, Gary Cahill has shown he can contribute a lot for both club and country. The former Bolton defender is a European champion with Chelsea, Joleon Lescott is a Premier League winner with Manchester City and Phil Jagielka has imporved a lot in the last couple of seasons at Everton. Rio Ferdinand is in the twilight of his career, but deserves a recall.

Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both will be back soon from their long term injuries and have the potential to be the next best England centre-back pairing. Steven Caulker is maturing and developing promisingly at Tottenham Hotspur and is worth a long-term audition, along with Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross, who surely deserves a England callup in the near future.

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

Rating The England Squad For The Euros

Roy Hodgson has named his 23-man England squad that will carry the hopes of the entire nation at the Euro 2012 finals in Poland & Ukraine this summer. But has he got the right players? After having a look at the complete squad, here is my verdict on the squad.

Goalkeepers

Joe Hart

Its a long time since England have had one of the best keepers in the world. For me he is not only the best in the Premier League but also the best in the world and should be mentioned along with the likes of Iker Casillas, Gianluigi Buffon, Manuel Neuer or even Hugo Lloris. Hart has developed a lot since his loan spell at Birmingham couple of years back and could be England’s number one for many years to come.

Robert Green

He has been good for West Ham this season. I know he is playing in the Championship but he has performed for West Ham under a lot of pressure and expectations. He is going to be 2nd choice to Hart and so I have no worries at all unless Hart gets injured.

John Ruddy

Paul Robinson and Ben Foster have retired while Scott Carson plays in Turkish league and David Stockdale hasn’t perform this season, so John Ruddy was the best option. I am really happy for him. He has been very good for Norwich this season and their position in the league proves it. He has made some amazing saves this season in a matches against the top sides especially against Liverpool at Anfield.

Defenders 

Glen Johnson

England are lucky to have some many good right-backs and Glen Johnson is the best of them. Unlucky that Micah Richards didnt make the plane but Johnson for me is by far the best right-back England have had for some years now. His defending is a bit of a worry but going forward is as good as Dani Alves or Maicon to name a few. He also has the ability to score from outside the box and that’s a plus point.

Phil Jones

The fact that I am a Manchester United fan, I am very happy for him. He played really well for United in the first half of the season but was troubled a lot by injuries in the second half. He is not on the plane because he had a good season by his own standards but because he is very versatile and can play in three different positions – right-back, centre-back and centre-midfield. Some part of me always knew he would be in the squad because of his versatility.

John Terry

I thought both Rio Ferdinand and John Terry would be going to the Euros but when Ferdinand was not going to be selected Terry had to be selected. Lets be honest, Terry is the best English defender at the moment and he has to be in the squad for a major tournament like this. As Hodgson said he has performed for Chelsea even with all those off-field issues and I can’t see why he won’t perform well for England. He is a true leader and a rock in the defense.

Gary Cahill

Cahill-Terry partnership has been one of the best defence partnerships for England in the last one year or so. Cahill has had a good season with both Bolton & Chelsea and I expect him to play a huge role in the Champions league final on Saturday. He will start alongside JT for England and will surely form a formidable partnership in the center of the defence.

Joleon Lescott

He has had a very good season for Manchester City but hasn’t got the credit he deserves. He is a decent player but I don’t see him starting for England ahead of John Terry or Gary Cahill. He is a very good cover for the Chelsea duo though.

Ashley Cole

England’s number one left-back for years and it’s no surprise he is in the squad. Has performed consistently for Chelsea in the Premier League season after season and deserves his place in the team.

Leighton Baines

I am glad he is finally going to a major tournament. He missed out on the World Cup in South Africa because of home-sickness but now he is fine. He has let no one down this season and performed brilliant for Everton. A brilliant backup option for Ashley Cole.

Midfielders

Steven Gerrard

Even though he plays for Liverpool, I love watching him play. He has been England’s best player for some years now and I am glad that he has finally been named the captain. He completely deserves it and should have been named way back when John Terry was stripped off the captaincy for the first time. He is a must in the England team because he is the heart of the midfield and an inspiration to all the players on the pitch. If he performs England have a chance.

Scott Parker

If he is 100% fit, he is a huge asset to the team. He has got all the deserved praise he should get in the last 2-3 seasons and I happy for him. He is a kind of a player each team needs, a player who could hold the midfield together and a great tackler of the ball. England are very lucky to have a player like him.

Frank Lampard

At the start of the season I doubted if Lampard would be in the England squad for the Euros but he has proved me wrong with his performances for Chelsea. He is a big-game player and possesses a great ability of scoring goals. England need such midfielders who can go forward and score some important goals when needed. The only thing to be seen is whether he and Gerrard can play together. There are many questions about that to be answered.

Gareth Barry

It amuses me how come he is in the squad ahead of Michael Carrick. Barry was poor against Germany in the World Cup and was completely outclassed by the German midfield but his performances in the last 10 games or so for City have been outstanding and also is an England regular for long time now. Maybe that’s the reason why he is in the squad but for me it would have been Carrick ahead of Barry.

James Milner

If you want a player who will give you 100% in each match then he is the player you are looking for. He hasn’t played a lot for City in the last few weeks and has been used mostly as substitute but he has performed whenever he has been given a chance. He is a reliable player and you know he will always give his best on the field. Add to that he is versatile, can play in center of the midfield or on the wings or even as a right back if needed.

Theo Walcott

He has been way too inconsistent this season for Arsenal. One day he will give you a 9/10 performance and next day he will give you a 5 or maybe a 6/10 performance, but he has a lot of pace in him and on his day he could also end up scoring a hat-trick. For me, he is England’s best right winger at the moment ahead of Aaron Lennon or Adam Johnson.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Whenever he has played he has impressed me. He is quick and possesses a lot of talent in him to be a star of England and Arsenal in the future. I don’t think he will start any of the games because it would really surprise me if he does but I expect him to have some impact on the game by coming on from the bench.

Stewart Downing

I must say I am very very surprised he is on that plane to Poland-Ukraine. He has been a complete waste of money for Liverpool this season. He hasn’t managed to score a goal or even create a goal in his 36 appearances in the Premier League for the Reds. I would have gone for either Adam Johnson or Daniel Sturridge ahead of Stewart Downing, any day.

Ashley Young

He has had a decent first season for Manchester United but has performed well whenever he has player for the Three Lions. His ability to deliver dangerous freekicks and crosses will be important in a tight game and could also create a difference.

Forwards

Wayne Rooney

He will be the first name on any teamsheet. He has to go even if he is suspended for the first two games. He just had a great season with Manchester United and he being suspended for the first two games will keep him fresh for the final group game against Ukraine. If he can continue his club form for his country then England are in with a huge chance.

Danny Welbeck

He has performed brilliantly for Manchester United under a lot of pressure this season and completely deserves a place in the squad. He has very good movement and also at the same time is quick. He has a very good understanding with Wayne Rooney and if Roy Hodgson decides to play with two upfront when Rooney returns, then these two can trouble the opposition defence.

Andy Carroll

If the choice was between Peter Crouch and Andy Carroll then even I would have gone with Carroll. He adds something different than the other three strikers. He has a great ability to hold the ball in the opposition’s half and his physical presence will be felt in the both the boxes. He has shown some glimpses of his form in the last 5-6 matches for Liverpool and he is way aggressive than Peter Crouch.

Jermain Defoe

I am glad that Defoe is also on the plane. He is a true poacher, a natural goalscorer and England don’t have many striker like him in their national pool. The other one which I can remember is Darren Bent but he is out injured. If he gets a chance to score then you can be sure he will score like he did in the last group game of the World Cup.