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Friday, May 18, 2012
Preview of the CL final


The world's most prestigious club competition ends Saturday, with Bayern Munich facing Chelsea at Allianz Arena. Here are five notes for the grand finale in Munich.

• Bayern Munich will be the first club since Roma in 1984 to play the European Cup final in its home stadium. Roma lost on penalties to Liverpool, but the other two home teams won the title, though both were more than 40 years ago.

• Bayern Munich's European history is much richer than Chelsea's, with four European Cup titles and nine final appearances to Chelsea's zero titles and two finals. However in the past decade, their accomplishments are very similar. Each has made nine Champions League appearances and a pair of finals in the past 10 seasons.

• Neither team won its domestic league title, making this the first final matchup of such teams since AC Milan defeated Liverpool in 2007. Chelsea finished sixth in the Premier League, which would be the worst league finish for any Champions League winner. Both 2000 Real Madrid and 2005 Liverpool finished fifth when they lifted the trophy.

• Chelsea is the seventh English team to reach the Champions League Final in the past seven seasons. But the only one to win the title in that span was Manchester United, which beat Chelsea on penalty kicks in 2008. Liverpool was the last English team to beat a club from another country in the final, topping AC Milan in a shootout after trailing 3-0 in the Miracle of Istanbul.

• A record seven players are suspended from the final for disciplinary reasons (three on Bayern and four on Chelsea), and the defensive end will be affected most for both sides. Chelsea will be without three of its five leading tacklers this Champions League season: Ramires is second on the team with 23 tackles, followed by Raul Meireles (19) and Branislav Ivanovic (tied for 4th with 15). Bayern may feel its absences most in the air, as Luiz Gustavo and David Alaba have won the most aerial duels on the team during the competition, with 11 and nine respectively.