The build up to the Champions League Final has been somewhat overshadowed by talk of the big names who will not be gracing the Allianz Arena turf rather than those who will be playing for Bayern Munich and Chelsea on Saturday night.
In the Blue corner John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Mereiels are banned, while the Munich Reds are missing Luiz Gustavo, David Alaba and Holger Badstuber.
The effect of those absentees on Chelsea could force Roberto di Matteo into one of two options – the ultra cautious approach that served them so well in both legs against Barcelona in the semi-final, or all-out attack.
The latter appears fanciful in the extreme, going against the Chelsea mantra which has been in place since Jose Mourinho took charge back in 2004.
But without two of their most influential defenders in Terry and Ivanovic, Di Matteo could reap the benefits of a more orthodox 4-3-3 system with Juan Mata, Didier Drogba and the rejuvenated Fernando Torres piling the pressure on Bayern’s defence, rather than the more accustomed diamond formation the Chelsea caretaker boss favours.
And it is the Bavarian club’s defence that appears to have come under the most scrutiny. Despite only 22 goals conceded in 34 league games this season Dortmund put five past them in the recent German cup final and Chelsea’s newest recruit has pinpointed this as Bayern’s Achilles heel.
Marko Marin signed a five-year deal at Stamford Bridge last month in a £7 million move from Werder Bremen.
And the winger was in no doubt about the frailties at the back he believes his new team-mates can expose.
Marin said: “Yes. I watched the German cup final. They made big errors. Chelsea have better players and will do well if they play offensively.
“I think (Chelsea) will win at the weekend. Bayern did a very good job against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final, but they did not do well in the cup final.”
Fitness permitting, the Chelsea back-line picks itself with Ashley Cole, David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Jose Bosingwa likely to start the game if they come through training successfully.
Petr Cech will be in goal leaving three midfielders to make up the XI. Frank Lampard will start as skipper in Terry’s absence just in front of John Obi Mikel and a possible surprise spot for Michael Essien. The trio can then look to nullify the threat of Bayern going forward and be supported by Torres and Mata when not in possession.
And there is no doubt Bayern will be a potent force going forward, one that Marin was keen to emphasise, identifying the Bayern players he sees as danger men. Somewhat surprisingly he omitted Arjen Robben from his list.
“I think the strongest Bayern player is Franck Ribéry because of his dribbling and because he’s a goal threat,” Marin added.
“There’s also Mario Gómez. He’s scored a lot of goals in the Champions League and is a constant danger. If Chelsea can stop them then they will do well.”
Saturday signals the break-up of Chelsea’s golden generation with at least one of Cech, Cole, Lampard, Essien, Drogba and the absent Terry leaving this summer.
They have the opportunity to hand owner Roman Abramovich a perfect thank you for making them all very rich men, and for the investment that has made the Blues the force they are.
Tags: Bayern Munich, Champion's League, Champions League Final, Chelsea, David Luiz, Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Roberto di Matteo