With the Champions League Final 2012 to be played in Munich at the Allianz-Arena between the ‘home team’ Bayern Munich and Chelsea, another Anglo-German footballing encounter is set to take place tomorrow. Here is some of the press coverage in the paper’s pre-match writings.
Didier Drogba: Desperado and Gentleman
Desperado and Gentleman so said the Süddeutsche Zeitung about Didier Drogba, emphasizing that if Bayern want to stop Chelsea they have to stop Drogba. While this might appear a harsh way to describe Chelsea’s football, there is some truth in it. No one embodies Chelsea more than Drogba. Bought in 2004 he saw Andriy Shevchenko come in to replace him and fail. Fernando Torres was bought to add some skill and glory as a centre forward to the team and to replace Drogba. He failed like Shevchenko. The Champions League title could be the last major trophy he may lay his hands on and therefore Raphael Honigstein argues that a triumph for Bayern is only possible by containing the threat of Didier Drogba.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung portrays Drogba as the player Bayern fear most. Jupp Heynckes warns: Drogba is one of those mature players who have the chance for glory late in their career, this makes them incredibly dangerous and tough to play against. The paper compares Drogba with an elephant: he goes into the challenge like an elephant but can also buckle at the right time; a direct warning at Jerome Boateng whose tackling is often clumsy as seen in last week’s German Cup Final. Didier Drogba might be a member of Chelsea’s Old Guard alongside John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole but he is to be taken seriously on Saturday.
Bastian Schweinsteiger: Aim to make History
The Germany and Bayern international is confident that his team will lift the trophy at the end of the game but is also aware of Chelsea’s triumph over Barcelona in the semi-final. The second tie saw Drogba dropping back as left-back to defend after John Terry was sent off. Nonetheless, Schweinsteiger expressed his confidence that Bayern will win as they are playing at home. The FAZ sees Schweinsteiger in the tradition of Oliver Kahn as the spiritus rectus of the team on the pitch. He might not be the captain but it is clearly him who dictates the rhythm of the game, yet he is lacking fitness after an almost 5 months injury break. Slowly however, he is coming back to form which should be a worrying sign for Chelsea and for Germany’s opponents at the Euros in Poland and Ukraine in the summer.
Heynckes vs. di Matteo: Legend vs. Butcher
The French sports daily L’Equipe have today printed a portrait of the two managers describing Jupp Heynckes ‘already a living legend’ while Roberto di Matteo was labelled a ‘butcher turned magician.’ Di Matteo is the man behind Chelsea’s return this season. After they looked like a team on the break up in February, Andre Villas-Boas was sacked and replaced by the former Chelsea player et voilà, here they are, having won the FA Cup against Liverpool and beaten Barcelona to get this far. In his first season at Chelsea he has won a trophy and is one game away from the biggest triumph in his young career.
His German counterpart meanwhile is nothing but a living legend and the paper duly points out. And his trophy collection adds some justification to that. As a player he was part of Germany’s most successful team, winning the European title in 1972 followed by the World Cup in 1974. With his club Borussia Mönchengladbach Heynckes was the major rival for Bayern Munich, winning four league titles and one DFB-Pokal (the German FA Cup) as well as one UEFA Cup in 1975.
Anglo-German rivalry or: War minus the shooting
Respected writer for the Guardian newspaper David Lacey puts the game into a historical perspective and draws the conclusion that the rivalry is still there but that the language and the fierceness have changed dramatically since the 1970s and 1980s when German players were described a tanks, man mountains, man machines or robots. Statistically, England have a lead in the tournament but that was mostly made up in the late 1970s and 1980s when club came before country. In 1977 Liverpool beat Mönchengladbach, three years later Nottingham Forest retained the trophy against Hamburg and in 1982 Villa beat a much fancied Bayern team for the Cup. And then there is ‘the mother of all defeats’, Man United’s Nou Camp madness against Bayern in 1999.
Bayern have home advantage, Chelsea come with the wish to win as it might be the last major trophy for Lampard, Drogba and Co. The stage is set for a splendid game of football tomorrow, let’s hope the final holds its promises and delivers a sparkling evening with good football and goals galore.