With the news that Gary Cahill and David Luiz should be starting for Chelsea in the Champions League final on Saturday, it looks as though favorites Bayern Munich will have a little more work to do than they might have expected. How are the Bundesliga runners-up going to get through the Chelsea defence?
The key, according to Phil Pierson of Bavarian Football Works, is to ensure that Mario Gomez is both fed and involved in buildup play. Everyone's keenly award of Bayern's attacking riches, but it's normally Gomez who finishes off moves, and if he just sits around and waits for things to be handed to him, the hosts' attack could be shut down by the Blues. Gomez has to cause more problems for Chelsea's defence than just lurking around Petr Cech's box with intent to poach:
We all know Gomez can smash home chances if you put that ball at his feet. But he's had problems operating further away from the 6-yard box, and if opponents shut off the flow of passes into the area, he tends to drift. So the important points to focus on are: (1) can Müller, Ribery, Robben, and everyone else feed Gomez and create some chances for him, and (2) if not, can he help the offense in other ways? Will he show some initiative off the ball? Can he take zig-zagging runs to shake a defender and break down the structure of the defense? Can he and Müller play off of each other, trading spots and making space for each other? If not, and Mario is sitting in front of the goal waiting to be fed, then we're back to the slow and stagnant offense that plagued us in the mid-season slump.
Then again, if Gomez does have to drop back in order to make things happen, it's not entirely obvious who'll actually finish Bayern's moves off.