Bayern Munich vs Chelsea: 4 Things Blues Must Improve for Champions League Final
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Chelsea's season and future hangs in the balance as the club prepares to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final at the Allianz Arena on May 19.
Fourth place and Champions League qualification via the league are now impossible after the Blues were demolished at Anfield by Liverpool 4-1.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo made several changes to the team that saw off Liverpool on Saturday to win the FA Cup.
The Italian will not have been impressed with some of the performances he saw Tuesday. Michael Essien, Oriol Romeu and Paulo Ferreira did little for their chances of being including in Di Matteo's squad for the final.
The one thing Chelsea do have in its favor is the fact the team have flourished in Europe, especially under Di Matteo. The Blues have tripped over every hurdle in the Premier League this season but look a different class in the Champions League since that dreadful February night in Naples.
Everyone at Chelsea knows the final will define their legacy at the club and shape the future of the Blues.
Chelsea can overcome Bayern Munich in the final, however, the team is going to need to improve. Here are the four things the team must do better in the final.
David Luiz and Ashley Cole are the keys defensively for Chelsea in the Champions League Final.
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Chelsea's defensive performances have been remarkably improved since Roberto Di Matteo took over and dumped Andre Villas-Boas' high defensive line.
Against Bayern Munich, the Blues must put in another Herculean defensive effort as they did against Barcelona. This task will be made even harder with the absences of Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry through suspension and Gary Cahill due to injury.
Chelsea may be better off without Terry in the lineup. The Chelsea skipper's performances have been erratic at best this season.
Blues' fans will welcome back David Luiz for the final who will have to be at his best. The performance of Luiz under Di Matteo has been a pleasant surprise for Chelsea after the horrid time he had earlier in the season.
He and the rest of the makeshift Chelsea defense must concentrate for the entire match. Too many times Chelsea have conceded cheap goals because of a lack of concentration.
If the Blues are to have a chance against Bayern, the defense will have to be resolute for 90 minutes. They will need to stifle the Bavarian club's prolific trio of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Mario Gomez and instigate the counter attack.
Chelsea did this against Barcelona and they must do it again against Bayern if they hope to finally win the trophy Roman Abramovich craves so much.
Ramires is suspended for the Champions League Final.
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Ramires is suspended for the Champions League Final. Chelsea will surely miss the man who has been the club's best player this season.
It is a shame he will miss out. His performances have been sensational this season and he adds a much needed dynamism to the Blues.
His energy and running hide Chelsea's lack of pace in the midfield. Frank Lampard has never been the most fleet of foot and John Obi Mikel would struggle to outrun a hibernating bear.
If Chelsea are to pose a threat to Bayern, other players must step up and provide the energy Ramires normally provides.
Raul Meireles is also suspended so Di Matteo's options are even further restricted for the final.
The Blues looked sluggish when Ramires was out of the lineup this season. Bayern will run rampant unless the team can replace what Ramires brought to the squad.
There is no one player who can do this for Chelsea. It will take a collective effort from the midfield to replicate the Brazilian's impact.
Chelsea are known for belittling referees and diving.
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The attitude from Chelsea players walks the dangerous line between being determined and petulant.
The siege mentality of Didier Drogba and company obviously helps them during matches. The club is willing to do whatever it takes to win. This includes overcoming perceived referee biases as well as the unsporting antics of their opponents.
However, when the team starts to lose, some of the players start acting like spoiled brats who have been scolded by their parents. This self-destructive trait has cost Chelsea on many occasions.
It would be outlandish to expect the players to not harass the referee or be somewhat confrontational. This backs-against-the-wall attitude is what helps fuel them.
Chelsea must improve on positively harnessing this attitude especially in times of adversity.
If the Blues can avoid acting foolishly while maintaining the passion and vigor that helped them upset Barcelona, Chelsea can win the final.
It is better to be safe than sorry.
Luckily, John Terry and Nicolas Anelka will not be taking penalty kicks for the Blues should the game need to be decided in that manner.
The bad news is, Bayern looked impressive in their penalty decided match against Real Madrid in the semifinals. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was outstanding.
There would be nothing more embarrassing for Chelsea than losing another Champions League final on penalties.