Champions League Final 2012 - An End To Capital Punishment?
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With domestic commitments concluding, it's time for the Champions League Final 2012. Today on the blog we welcome our new regular blogger Cassini as he takes a close look at this weekend's final.
After 56 competitions, it is somewhat remarkable that the capital cities of England, Germany, France and Italy have won a combined total of zero UEFA Champions League / European Cups. Not one. No club from the German or French capitals has ever reached the final, and while AS Roma made it in 1984, the nature of that appearance is somewhat controversial. It was revealed in 2011 that a 100 million lire (£50,000) bribe was paid to the French referee Michel Vautrot, prior to the second leg. With Dundee United 2-0 ahead after the first-leg, the Italians faced an uphill climb to reach the final on their own field. The referee awarded Roma a second half penalty, and the home team prevailed 3-0.
London Clubs In The Final
Interestingly, the English qualifiers for the first ever European Cup in 1955-56 were from the capital. Chelsea had just won their first League Championship, but the Football League barred their participation, and London had to wait until 2006 for the most populous city in Europe to be represented in the final.
In that year, Arsenal met Barcelona in Paris, and London’s representatives were reduced to ten men after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off after just 18 minutes. Despite this handicap, Arsenal took the lead with a Sol Campbell header in the 37th minute, and held on to it until two late goals in the 76th and 81st minutes won the trophy for Barcelona.
Two years later, London had another representative in Chelsea who faced domestic rivals Manchester United in Moscow. United scored first, but by half-time the match was 1-1, and it remained that way through extra-time. In the penalty shoot-out, Cristiano Ronaldo missed for United, but then so did John Terry and Nicolas Anelka and the trophy headed once again to a provincial city, something the English league has proven more than capable of doing. No other country has produced European Champions from four cities, with England’s winners coming from Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham.
Four years on from the 2008 final in Moscow, and London has another chance to lift the trophy, although the odds are against them, with opponents Bayern Munich having home advantage. Ticket allocation is split evenly between the two teams, which in theory dilutes the edge somewhat, but the Germans have the less tangible advantage of being closer to home and knowing where to find the bestparking spots etc.
In 2010-11, London did achieve the distinction of becoming the first, and so far only, city to be represented in the knockout stage by three teams in the same season when Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur all progressed from the group stage. None made it through to even as far as the semi-finals that year though.
Home Clubs In The Final
This is the fourth time the final has been played on the ground of one of the finalists. It might not seem an ideal arrangement, but with the venues selected a couple of years in advance (Wembley Stadium will host in 2013, and Benfica’s Stadium of Light in 2014) there is always a chance this will happen when a club ground is selected.
In 1957, Real Madrid played Fiorentina at the Bernabeu, winning 2-0. In 1965, Internazionale beat Benfica 1-0 at their own (shared) San Siro stadium, and in 1984, another Italian team, AS Roma, played a final on their own ground, losing a penalty shootout to Liverpool after the game ended 1-1.
Other teams have played a final in their own country, though not on their home ground, with three of Wembley’s finals featuring English teams.
1968 Manchester United beat Benfica 4-1 after extra time.
1978 Liverpool beat Club Brugge 1-0
2011 Manchester United lost to Barcelona 1-3
The results at other venues in the same country as one of the finalists are:
1972 in Rotterdam, Ajax beat Internazionale 2-0.
1986 in Seville, Barcelona lost on penalties to Steau Bucharest after a 0-0 draw.
1996 in Rome, Juventus beat Ajax on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
1997 in Munich, Borussia Dortmund beat Juventus 3-1.
Thus Manchester United holds the dubious distinction of being the only ‘home’ team to be beaten in the final, if we exclude the lottery of the penalty shootout. For the regulation 90 minutes of play, the record for home teams is W5 D4 L1.
With Chelsea finishing sixth in the league, should they win on Saturday, they will be one of the lowest domestically placed teams to ever win the Cup, although still some improvement on Aston Villa’s 11th place finish in 1982 (of 22 teams), and after losing their manager Ron Saunders in February of that year. Bayern Munich’s 10th place finish (of 18 teams) in 1975 is also notable.
Missing out on Champions League football next season, just as the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations kick-in, could prove additionally costly for Chelsea.
Since the tournament was rebranded as the Champions League, the winners have twice failed to qualify for next season’s competition from their domestic placing.
Real Madrid finished fifth in 1999-2000 resulting in Real Zaragoza dropping down to the Europa League, and when Liverpool won in 2005, fourth placed Everton were allowed to compete along with Liverpool (making a record five English teams).
Unfortunately, Everton failed to negotiate the Qualifying Round. Quite what Real Zaragoza thought of that ‘arrangement’ isn’t known, but the rules are clear now, and should Chelsea win, they will replace Tottenham Hotspur in that hard-earned Champions League spot. That could spell trouble in the Redknapp and Lampard families, as Harry is Frank’s uncle.
The absence of key players for Chelsea has been well documented, with Raul Meireles, Ramires, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic all suspended, and injury concerns over David Luiz and Gary Cahill.
There is some good news for Chelsea, at least historically, which is that English teams have met German teams in the final five times before, winning four.
In 1975, Bayern Munich beat Leeds United 2-0 in Paris, but since then, English teams have had the upper hand. In 1977, Liverpool defeated Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-1 in Rome. In 1980, Nottingham Forest won their second European Cup defeating Hamburg 1-0 in Madrid, and in 1982, Aston Villa beat Bayern Munich 1-0 in Rotterdam.
The most recent meeting between representatives of the two countries was in 1999, when Manchester United famously came from behind to defeat Bayern Munich 2-1 at the Nou Camp in Barcelona.
Bayern Munich have suspension problems of their own, with David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luiz Gustavo all missing out, and more good news is that Bayern Munich come into the final fresh from a 2-5 loss in the German Cup Final last weekend in Berlin, a win that gave Borussia Dortmund their first domestic double.
On the other hand, without a trophy in almost two years, Bayern’s notorious pride has been seriously dented of late, and that could spell trouble for Chelsea.
One final ray of sunshine for Chelsea is that Bayern Munich has been beaten at home by an English team in European competition on one previous occasion. Norwich City won 2-1 at the Olympic Stadium in 1993 in a UEFA Cup match.
Bayern Munich are currently 1.48 to win the trophy, and 1.84 to win it in 90 minutes. Chelsea can be backed at 3.05 and 4.7 respectively. Historically, 4.7 seems very tight. As I wrote earlier, in 10 finals with a similar profile, only one was won by the ‘away’ team in 90 minutes – Barcelona last year.
The last ten 90 minutes scores have been 2-1, 3-0, 0-0, 3-3, 2-1, 2-1, 1-1, 2-0, 2-0 and 3-1.
Since the rebranding of the tournament from European Cup to Champions League, the Over 2.5 goals have a slight edge 10-9, while wins to nil are 8 from the 19 matches – Bayern are 3.38 for this and Chelsea are around 9.33.
Under 2.5 goals is 1.94, Over 2.5 goals is 2.07. Five matches have gone to extra-time, and all five remained undecided after the extra 30 minutes and were decided on penalties.
First half goals have been scored in the eight finals since 2003, and can be layed on the exchanges at 3.1.
As a Londoner who doesn’t support the first British team to win two different European trophies, my heart says Chelsea. My head says it’s a tall order, but I have one final thought. Does history repeat itself?
In 2010, Manchester United finished second in the Premier League, Arsenal finished third, and Tottenham finished fourth.
Chelsea won the FA Cup, Southampton won a trophy and Portsmouth received a points deduction.
In Europe, Atletico Madrid won the Europa League and in the UEFA Champions League final? Bayern Munich lost.
I’m just saying.
You can follow Cassini on Twitter @calciocassini
And visit Cassini's blog : GreenAllOver.blogspot
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It would be good to see Chelsea lift the trophy, as it is also great to see a British team to do well in Europe. However, I find it hard to look past the long list of Chelsea men who are missing the final, and I especially feel that the blues defence will not be strong enough to hold out an impressive Bayern attack. All round however, I think it will be a close tie which Bayern Munich will edge. I reckon over 2.5 goals is a good shout with the weakened Chelsea defence also.
Great piece Cassini. Some interesting facts and figures there. Love that coincidence at the end of the piece. Not sure who I want to win. I tend to hope for something unexpected and in this case I assume I'll be hoping Chelsea do something unlikely once again.
Very interesting stats on home advantage in previous CL finals. I hope Chelsea can make it anyway!