Cagey final can suit Chelsea
History doesn't crawl, it jumps. And while it might seem as though Chelsea's best opportunity to win the Champions League deserted them in Moscow four years ago, they could be about to reap the rewards of their cumulative efforts over the past eight years by lifting the trophy in Bayern Munich's backyard on Saturday night.
Owner Roman Abramovich doesn't say much to the media, but it's no secret that his ultimate dream is to win this competition and there's certainly been an added edge to Chelsea's performances on the continent since he called time on the mess that developed under Andre Villas-Boas.
After handing the Portuguese his P45 in February, it's understood that Abramovich called a meeting with his multi-millionaire players to deliver some home truths and, whatever he said to them, it's apparent there's a sense of debt emanating from the Stamford Bridge dressing room and the slate will be wiped clean if they can deliver this prize.
Since Abramovich took over in June 2003, Chelsea have come close on numerous occasions, falling at the semi-final stage four times besides that agonising penalty shoot-out defeat to Manchester United at a rain-sodden Luzhniki. In each of the past eight seasons, they have been eliminated by either the eventual winners or runners-up.
During that time, the Russian billionaire has pumped an estimated £400m into the London club but the one thing you can't buy is experience and that's something the Blues have in spades now, both in the minds of certain individuals and the mindset as a club. Any team that can thwart Barcelona over two matches is more than capable of stopping Bayern over 90 minutes.
That's why we see some value in the draw at odds of 3/1. The Bavarians might be familiar with the surroundings but we're not convinced that home advantage is anything more than a slight advantage here. There will be no preferential treatment from the match officials and Chelsea will be well-backed from a vocal perspective, don't worry about that.
Yet the setting appears to be weighing heavily on the prices. Chelsea might be somewhat shorter on creative flair but Bayern are hardly streets ahead if Roberto Di Matteo can get his tactics right. We agree that the Germans should be favourites, of course, but we rate Chelsea's chances at much better than 33 per cent.
The suspensions handed out to John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Miereles obviously poses a few headaches but let's not forget that Jupp Heynckes has to make his own contingencies with Holger Badstuber, David Alaba and Luis Gustavo also sidelined by the yellow card totting-up process.
It might sound counterintuitive to suggest a bet on no goalscorer in the absence of so many defenders and midfielders when all of the main attacking threats remain but we reckon the lack of back-up options could lead to both managers preaching caution and opting for a more protective mindset than might otherwise be expected.
There are final ghosts to exorcise in both camps with Bayern hoping to make amends for their defeat to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan at the Santiago Bernabeu two years ago, and it's only natural that such painful memories lead to a greater sense of uncertainty avoidance.
- @GMPCityCentre What about the other three? — 42 min 30 sec ago
- Mark Hughes PL away record since 2008 between Sep 1st and St Geroge's Day: W1 D21 L38. But please, help yourself to the 13/5 Stoke tomorrow! — 2 hours 50 min ago
- But wait, it gets better... — 2 hours 54 min ago
- Mark Hughes' PL away record since Aug 2008: W8 D24 L45. Over £400 profit on level £10 lays (...can't be arsed working out 45 home wins!) — 2 hours 54 min ago
- @GLillisAgent Only one man taking that bottle of bubbly home tonight! — 4 hours 43 min ago