Friday, April 27, 2012

COUNTDOWN TO UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL BY OLA WALE ADIGUN

Bayern Munich are guests at their own party and Chelsea are invited, venue for this party is the Allianz Arena in Munich. 
There is enough beer for everyone to drink to stupor but there is one ultimate prize to win, it’s the Uefa Champions League trophy, a trophy coveted by Russian billionaire Roman Abrahimovich and its been eleven years the Bavarians had a feel of the trophy. 
May 19, 2012 is the date, the day the Lord has made and we shall rejoice in it. Wait! I’ve been talking about the upcoming final, its time to look at the build up to the final, which has to be the epic semi-finals, 360 minutes of crazy stuff on the pitch, emotion, hatred, passion, call it anything you like, the two semifinals will go down in history as games that kept all football fans tensed.
At the Camp Nou, all odds were stacked against Chelsea scoring at a stadium where critics have called a fortress for Barca, not only did they get a goal, they got two goals.
But Chelsea going through wasn’t the biggest story for me, it was the manner in which they went through, Gary Cahill pulled his hamstring early on and five seconds moment of madness from captain fantastic (John Terry) all this happened in thirty seven minutes and all these factors ensured that the blues were in for a game of their lives.
Down to ten men Chelsea were sturdy and resolute in defence. During that game I made mention to a friend exactly when Terry got his marching orders that Barca might have it difficult now, I referred back to Playstation 2 where I discovered that when I played with ten men, my opposition finds it difficult to get a goal against me; by the ways that was Playstation. 
Barca as usual had a foothold on possession, 78% to be precise, Xavi had more passes than all of the Chelsea players, but at this stage possession counts for nothing, the name of the game is goals and Barca just couldn’t prise open the Chelsea defence. 
A lot has been said about the frailties of Barcelona in the last three games, Guardiola’s tactical gaffe, coach-player relationship, and the one I would love to talk about is the lack of a plan B, the Catalonian club has come under fire for sticking to their tiki-taka philosophy which for me has gotten them 13 out of 17 trophies. Barca got into trouble against the blues, they met a defence that wasn’t ready to co-operate with them, for all the possession barca couldn’t penetrate,  from the right Dani Alves making no headway will get back to Xavi in the middle, Xavi finds no space returns to Tello on the left, the same process went on throughout the game.
It got to a stage barca had to start pumping in balls into the Chelsea area but they had no bodies to connect. 
Bottomline, Barca and Pep will need to find a gameplan to deal with stubborn sides like Chelsea next time because the world has seen Chelsea do it, that means an Osasuna, Getafe will always come up against barca with a game plan: that is “park the bus” and hit on the break.

The pain for Spain continued in the Champions league; continued at the Bernabeu where Bayern made sure that they will be the first team since Roma in the 90’s to play a European cup final in front of their own fans. 
Truth must be told the bavarians dominated both legs and deserved to go through and that means that Jupp Heynckes will hope to join the likes of Jose Mourinho, Ottmar Hitzfield, Ernst Happel in becoming those who have won the European cup twice with different clubs.

But the disturbing fact therein lie the fact that Chelsea and Bayern will be missing key players in the finals and UEFA have stood their ground after FIFPRO asked for clemency for these players, that means Ramires, Raul Meireles, Branislav Ivanovic,  Holger Badstuber, David Alaba, and Luis Gustavo will all be missing in the finals. 
Are we going to see an exciting final with all these players left out? Here is a look of how both teams may line up in Munich.

CHELSEA

Petr Cech, Jose Bosingwa, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, John Mikel Obi, Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Salomon Kalou, Juan Mata, Didier Drogba.
BAYERN MUNICH

Manuel Neuer, Philip Lahm, Contento, Jerome Boateng, Rafinha, Anatoliy Tymoschuk, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Mario Gomez.
Guys enjoy the battle of Munich. May the best team, oops! The best team never wins these days (sorry barca fans), may the winner drink beer to stupor…..ciao!!!!
Olawale Adigun is a sports presenter/analyst at one of Lagos’s top most radio station; Top Radio 90.9fm. you can join him early in the mornings Mondays to Fridays on Back to Back Sports 6am -6:30am and in the evenings on Sports Café, 6pm to 7pm.

You can also send your comments to adigunolawale45@yahoo.com or contact him on www.facebook.com/adigunolawale.

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