MUNICH — For Bayern Munich and Chelsea today's Champions League final in Munich is a must-win game, but for differing reasons. For the four-time champions from Germany, who are the first team since the competition became the Champions League to have qualified for a home final, the game offers a last chance to make sure they don't end up the season trophy-less.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have already won the FA Cup after beating Liverpool 2-1 earlier in the month, but after a disappointing Premier League campaign, the Blues finished sixth — two places behind a place that would see them qualify for next season's Champions League.
Thus, if Chelsea want to participate in the lucrative competition again next year, they will have to win today's final.
Caretaker manager Roberto di Matteo, who will probably find himself out of a job should his team lose the game, is aware that the team can achieve something extraordinary.
"I have a great team with great players and they can achieve something which no Chelsea team has ever done. That is our motivation and that is our goal," he said.
They will have to achieve their goal without inspirational captain John Terry, as well as full-back Branislav Ivanovic, midfielders Ramires and Raul Meireles. All four are suspended for the game in Munich.
Frank Lampard will lead the team in Terry's absence.
Di Matteo also has three injury worries, though while Florent Malouda's availability seems unlikely, defenders Gary Cahill and David Luiz should recover in time.
Cahill was doubtful with a hamstring injury suffered in the second leg of the semifinal win over Barcelona but has been training hard to be ready for the Munich showdown.
"I worked on my sharpness at the weekend without the lads and it felt really good, so for me to get the full week in before Saturday will be positive," he said.
"We have three sessions now before Saturday and we will do what needs doing. Hopefully I can kick on from here. I'm just happy that the injury healed quickly. We've worked really hard every day.
Luiz, who has been out for almost a month because of a hamstring strain of his own, said he should be fit.
"I was so happy I came back to training and I did 100 per cent of the session, and I did all of the movements," he said. "All the players in the world want to play in the Champions League final and I am counting the days."
Another decision Di Matteo has to make is whom to play upfront as his number one striker: Didier Drogba or Fernando Torres.
The Ivory Coast forward Drogba is favourite to get the nod, with Torres being kept on the bench to be thrown in at the deep end when needed. He did that with devastating effect in the semifinal return leg against Barcelona, when he came on and scored Chelsea's second to ensure they went through.
If Torres starts on the bench, Daniel Sturridge could play alongside Drogba.
But it is not only Di Matteo who has some decisions to make as Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes has his own concerns ahead of the match.
He has faced a tough task the whole week of getting his team to bounce back from a demoralising 5-2 defeat against Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup final last Saturday and he also misses three players through suspension.
Defenders David Alaba and Holger Badstuber, as well as midfielder Luiz Gustavo all picked up their third yellow cards of the competition in the semifinal return leg at Real Madrid and are ruled out of today's match.
But despite the losses expectations are high in Munich for a Bayern victory in their own Allianz Arena ground.
"You can see what is at stake on Saturday. The anticipation and the concentration are growing by the hour," Bayern's Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said.
"We can hardly wait for the game. It is the highlight of our season and we are all looking forward to the match. I hope that we will show on the field how much we want to play in the game.
"You are constantly confronted with the game and as a result all the players are thinking about it all the time."
Striker Mario Gomez, who is just two goals shy of Lionel Messi's 14-goal Champions League tally for the season, said: "I think we all realise that it is something special."
The game will be televised in 200 countries and 200 million people are expected to watch live. About 2,000 journalists from all over the world have been accredited, and German football icon Franz Beckenbauer said that winning would be the biggest achievement in the history of the club.
Probable teams: Bayern Munich: 1-Manuel Neuer; 13-Rafinha, 17-Jerome Boateng, 44-Anatolyi Tymoshchuk, 21-Philipp Lahm; 31-Bastian Schweinsteiger, 39-Toni Kroos, 25-Thomas Mueller, 10-Arjen Robben, 7-Franck Ribery; 33-Mario Gomez.
Chelsea: 1-Petr Cech; 19-Paulo Ferreira, 4-David Luiz, 24-Gary Cahill, 3-Ashley Cole; 8-Frank Lampard, 15-Florent Malouda, 12-John Obi Mikel, 17-Jose Bosingwa, 10-Juan Mata; 11-Didier Drogba. — DPA