Who should be starting in this historic game for Chelsea FC? Call me old fashioned but I think to be on the pitch for the champions league final is a privilege and hence it cannot come free. Meanwhile we need to pick the team that can win us the champions league. The fact that we are missing some key players has only made the selection slightly easier but still in a final match that could last just 90 minutes, lot could result from the details. This is absolutely no time for experiments. Plan should replace hope. We need to choose the best possible eleven that can do the job in what’s possibly the most difficult away game that Chelsea has played in recent times. This is the time for all the character and experience that this Chelsea team is known for, will have to be put to use.
Formation: Chelsea being Chelsea, can line-up in one of many possible formations. The versatility of Chelsea with various systems is a real hallmark of this Chelsea team. It’s for this reason, you can predict Bayern’s starting eleven and the formation much easier than that of Chelsea.
The formations possible are (a) 4-3-3 (b) 4-3-2-1 and (c) 4-3-1-2. While not in possession, 4-3-3 will be a 4-5-1 that will try to constrain Bayern’s dangerous wide men. But this would need very hardworking wide midfielders. With Ramires and Meireles not in, Essien being so out of form, we are already short of midfielders that can play in a champions league final. Knowing how dangerous Robben and Ribery are, we can’t expect our full backs to attack too much. Without their active involvement, 4-3-3 is not going to help much.
Even 4-3-2-1 is a long shot without Ramires and Meireles. I don’t really consider Meireles so important. He’s been too inconsistent and has been a hit and miss. On the contrary, Romeu has had better games for us despite the recent forgettable games. But when it comes to playing a champions league final, I’d rate Meireles’ presence over Romeu’s. I won’t pick 4-3-2-1 as we don’t have 5 midfielders that can start for us in a champions league final.
4-3-1-2 is my pick. First reason is we have the players for this system. Two world class strikers with our player of the season behind them works just fine. Remember, even Bayern is missing their first choice backline. Playing two strikers upfront, that too a Drogba and a Torres, is going to keep them on their toes or even force some mistakes from them. Moreover, this is a formation that should help us with our opportunistic instincts.
Goalkeeper: If there’s one untouchable in the Chelsea squad, that’s Petr Cech. You can’t say that about anyone else. He’s brilliant under RDM and he’s someone I wouldn’t want to swap for any keeper in the world. He’s the first name on our team sheet in Munich.
Defence: Who we choose to play in defence will determine the outcome of the game. In the absence of John Terry, Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Ivanovic – it’s an understatement to say our defence is depleted. Cahill and Luiz are still in the race to make a surprise return to the finals and we hear that both could be available for the final. They both have started training and the players, physios, managers and everyone else concerned is ready to take a risk and start both of them.
If those two are playing, the selection is fairly straightforward. Ashley Cole on the left, David Luiz and Gray Cahill in the centre and Bosingwa on the right. There’s a temptation to swap the positions of Luiz and Bosingwa but I wouldn’t. Credit to Bosingwa for his centre back performances against Barca but that was a special case. He hasn’t now become a centre back. Also I tend to think Luiz is a much better bet to deal with Gomez than Bos.
Midfield: We need a mature midfield that’s not overrun by the super-attacking Bayern midfield. Mikel should start. He is our best defensive midfielder bar none. We need Mikel in the eleven and he should have a great game for us to have one. Lampard too should start. He’s been particularly brilliant in the champions league games and we need him to unleash the Drog or slip in a clever pass for Torres.
I’d expect Malouda to start. He’s not the most popular choice due to his recent performances. But he adds a lot of strength and muscle to our midfield. If he’s on assist-mode, he’s a very useful player to have in our midfield. I hear that FloMo could be a doubt and that might mean a place for Essien. I’ve been the biggest fan and critic of Essien. He has been deteriorating since Carlo’s second season. Of course the injury has taken a toll on his body but he started losing form even before that.
I’m a bit skeptical about Essien. He’s gone and made a 180° turn. Now he’s our lightest midfielder. It’s easy to take the ball off him. It’s easy to push him off. Not able to withstand even the regulation shoulder barge and body check. If he can play at 75% of what he used to play, I’d start him happily. If RDM doesn’t want to play Essien, he can pull Mata back to midfield and play an additional attacker in Kalou. See, I don’t want to see Sturridge ok the pitch. He wants to be a hero even in a meaningless match. There’s no way we should start him.
Forward: On the attack, it’s gotta be Drogba, Torres and Mata. It’s been sometime since Drogba and Torres played together. Also they aren’t considered to be a successful partnership. I’m keen to play both primarily because Bayern will play a much depleted defence in the final.
Most probably. I think RDM will play 4-3-3 with Torres on the left and Mata on the right, with Drogba in the middle. I think this game will be decided based on which team takes advantage of the second choice defensive line-ups on both sides. The formation and the line-up we choose should test the Bayern defence. Plus this is the mother of all away games. We should approach this game like a high profile away game. We should e patient and take our chances when they present themselves, which they will.
So I see two possibilities, depending on where Mata would play. If he’s playing forward, it would be: Cech in goal, Cole, Cahill, Luiz, Bosingwa in defence, Lampard, Mikel, Essien in midfield, Mata, Torres and Drogba playing forward. If Mata is playing in midfield, it would be: Cech in goal, Cole, Cahill, Luiz, Bosingwa in defence, Lampard, Mikel, Mata in midfield, Kalou, Torres and Drogba playing forward.
Whoever RDM chooses, we need 11 warriors on the pitch, who should want to put a win in front of any damn thing.