Two improbable finalists meet in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final on Saturday, and they're nowhere near full strength. The fringe players of Chelsea and Bayern Munich will be put to the biggest tests of their careers, as will managers Roberto Di Matteo and Jupp Heynckes.
Ramires, John Terry, Raul Meireles and Branislav Ivanovic are all suspended for Chelsea while David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luiz Gustavo all miss out on the match for Bayern. Both teams will be starting makeshift back lines, but the Chelsea defense should resemble a top back line much more than their opposition. The Blues' biggest concern is whether or not they can find ample replacement for the pace of Ramires going forward.
Bayern's suspensions should hurt them more than Chelsea, but they will be boosted by a home crowd at the Allianz Arena. The Champions League final is a supposedly neutral site affair, but fans of the Bavarians have likely snapped up all of the general public and scalped tickets available. Chelsea will be coming into a hostile environment not characteristic of a cup final in the slightest.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. local
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
TV: FOX (U.S. - English), FOX Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), Sportsnet (Canada), ITV (U.K.)
We'll have updates throughout the week in our 2012 UEFA Champions League Final StoryStream. For more on Bayern, head over to Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works. For more on the Blues, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History. For more on the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.