Who wins the coveted trophy? Chelsea or Bayern Munich

This Saturday, Bayern Munich face-off against Chelsea in the final of most important club tournament in the world. The Champions League final at the Allianz Arena in Munich will not have six quality players playing due to suspension, but there is still an array of stars who will battle it out to decide who rules Europe for a year.

As the match generates it’s traditional buzz, here is a look at the key battles that may decide which way the game goes:

Arjen Robben vs Ashley Cole:This is probably the most important battle. Robben, has been in supreme form this season — contributing 19 goals in 35 matches, out of which five have come in Europe. He will cut-in from the right, angling to suit his favoured left foot and thus showing Cole on his not so favoured right foot. Closing him down will be paramount for the Chelsea defence, because he can squeeze those goals in from nowhere. As for Cole, he was flawless in the matches against Barcelona and a lot will be expected of him to shut the gates for Chelsea.

Frank Ribery vs Jose Bosingwa: Do not underestimate Ribery. Not after seeing his sensational goal against Borussia Dortmund in the recently concluded German Cup. He may have been a tad out of form at times, but to unleash the unexpected is his biggest threat. He will twist, turn, wriggle, pivot and shoot from a blind angle. But Jose Bosingwa is a trusted warrior. He will be deployed in place of the absent Branislav Ivonovic, however to keep Ribery, who already has 26 assists this season, at bay will be a tough job.

Phillip Lahm vs Fernando Torres: Interesting, one might say, but we believe Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba will both start and the former may have to play on the right side of midfield in the absence of Ramires in Chelsea’s 4-3-3/4-5-1 system. Now, you might wonder why Lahm would then come up against him… but David Alaba’s suspension means Lahm may need to switch to left-back and allow Rafinha to take his position on the right. This tactical rejig will be a last moment call and is not guaranteed. But if these two come up against each other, then it will be one of the best full-backs in Europe against a striker who has suddenly found his purple patch.

Bastian Schweinsteiger vs Frank Lampard: The suspension of Luis Gustavo could force Schweinsteiger to sit back and leave the attacking midfielder’s role to the impressive Toni Kroos. That means trailing Lampard will be one of his duties. The Englishman cut open the Barcelona defence to set up Ramires’ goal in the semi-final. He will be crucial to Chelsea and their ability to counter. A calm and composed Schweinsteiger will need to concentrate harder unless Franky decides to pop up in the box at the right time and right place… like he usually does.

Jerome Boateng vs Didier Drogba: Usually there is only one winner when Drogba is on a high. And sad news for ex-Manchester City defender Boateng is that he is. Boateng, whose positional sense is not as good as that of the missing Holger Badstuber, will have to be at his best that night. What may help is that he is playing at home and knows the danger areas better than Drogba. But with Drogba on the attack, you always have to consider yourself the underdog.

Form in last five matches:

Bayern Munich:
Won 1-2 vs Werder Bremen
Won 2-1 vs Real Madrid
Won 2-0 vs Stuttgart
Won 1-4 vs Koln
Lost 2-5 vs Borussia Dortmund

Chelsea:
Won 2-1 vs Blackburn
Lost 1-4 vs Liverpool
Won 2-1 vs Liverpool
Lost 0-2 vs Newcastle
Won 6-1 vs QPR

What is really interesting are the various permutations attached to the match which makes it hard to determine who will play where. The absence of usual first-teamers adds to that. Juan Mata could start central or on the left/right which makes one wonder where Florent Malouda or Salomon Kalou will play. Essien will certainly hold the anchorman’s position. On the other hand, there is Bayern, who also have Diego Contento and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, with the latter playing in the middle of defence and the former at right-back.

And of course, the battle between Mario Gomez and Gary Cahill will prove whether Cahill is good enough to fill John Terry’s shoes.

Will these match-ups really count after the first whistle? Does a diamond formation remain a diamond after kick-off? Also, will there even be 22 players on the field or not is a question.

For answers to these questions and more, catch the game 19:45GMT, Saturday.

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