2012 Munich final: pre-match quotes

We all know the outcome. But what was said in the build-up to the 2012 Champions League final?

Ahead of tonight’s #CFCWatchParty, which starts at 8pm, we have looked through the archives and dug out quotes from the managers, players, pundits and journalists looking forward to club football’s showpiece in 2012. Even they could not have foreseen the scale of the drama that was to unfold before their eyes…


Roberto Di Matteo was caretaker manager of Chelsea, and had helped us get past Napoli, Benfica and Barcelona in the knockout rounds

‘This game can decide the history of our football club. It would obviously be the first time we would win the European Champions League. That's all that matters and all we are focusing on. Both teams have a chance to win, it is 50-50, and we will try to do our best.

‘A final is a game where anything can happen. We just have to go into it with the belief and confidence that we can win it, and try our best and see what the outcome is. We are facing a very strong European club with a lot of experience in the Champions League and it will be difficult, but to reach the final was a difficult road as well.’

Di Matteo’s opposite number was Jupp Heynckes, hoping to guide Bayern to their fifth European Cup triumph, and in their own backyard

‘We may not have this chance again, to play the final in our own stadium, the Allianz Arena. I’m going to talk to the team and perhaps drive the team bus through Munich, see everything with red and white flags and talk with the people. That would be fantastic preparation for a Champions League final.

‘[Bayern president] Uli Hoeness said two years ago that he had a dream. The dream was to play the final of the Champions League in our own stadium. We’ve made it.

‘I don’t share the euphoria you hear outside that we’re the favourites. In a Champions League final, there is no favourite. At Chelsea, they have players who have won everything apart from this, and it’s their dream to win it, too.

‘We may have a tiny advantage from playing at home in our own stadium, and we’ll have our own dressing room etc etc... so we know every blade of grass on the pitch. That could make a difference.’

Frank Lampard would captain Chelsea in the absence of the suspended John Terry. He scored in defeat in Moscow four years prior

‘I’ve said before that, even if we don’t win the Champions League in my career, I would have no regrets. I’m very proud of the career I’ve had. I’ve been lucky to be at a great club and win a lot of things. But in terms of having the full set, I can’t hide away from that.

‘It's not something that's traumatic every day, you learn as a player you can't win everything, occasionally you lose, but you have to take the positives and you have to be more determined,

'We need to use the disappointment from Moscow to inspire us. The Champions League is the biggest, you saw the celebrations after we beat Barcelona, we're delighted to be here and we want to win the game.

‘We probably wouldn't have believed we would have been here a few months ago. We've got good and bad memories from Moscow, but the main one is that we lost the game. It's taken a while for us to get back here but we knew we had the ability to do so. Only tomorrow will it be the reprieve if we win the game.

‘To be an underdog, for whatever reason, helps. As long as you have a quiet determination and belief in yourself, then bring it on.’

Di Matteo sung his stand-in captain’s praises

‘Frank has been amazing. He has risen to the occasion when we needed him. In the Nou Camp he was outstanding, he led the group, and he is a natural leader. You might not always look at him like that but when you need him the man is there; he is a proper man.’

Philipp Lahm was Bayern captain

‘To see someone else lift the trophy in my house? Naturally that would be awful for us. I’m from Munich. I was born here in this town. I am one of those supporters and I know how much winning this competition means to them. I am one of them.

‘I’d have to leave Munich if we lost, and thank God we’ll be flying immediately to the European Championship afterwards. But of course we want to win it. We have a lot of players still here who were with us two years ago, and we all remember that experience. I don’t think the belief we had two years ago was as big as the belief we have now, that it can be our year.’

England manager Roy Hodgson would be a keen onlooker ahead of that summer’s Euros

'It will be a lot closer than some of the pundits are predicting. Most people are writing Chelsea off but I don't see them as underdogs at all.

'They have done extremely well to get to the final, they eliminated the favourites to win the tournament with two splendid performances. If they get anywhere close to those performances, they have got every chance.'

Juan Mata was our Player of the Year in 2012, his first season at Stamford Bridge

‘I have watched a lot of games from the Champions League and Bundesliga, and Bayern are not shy, they are very brave and attacking.

‘It doesn't matter who they are playing, they kept possession against Real Madrid and their full-backs are always helping to attack with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Mario Gomez can shoot with both feet, and they are at home, but I think we will have our chances to win.'

Centre-backs David Luiz and Gary Cahill had been out injured for weeks, and only joined in with the rest of the squad for the first time on the Tuesday before the final

'It was nice to be back out there, running and playing football,’ Cahill told Chelsea TV after that session at Cobham. ‘I was doing a bit of everything. I worked on my sharpness at the weekend without the lads and it felt really good, so for me to get the full week in before Saturday will be positive. Touch wood I will have no reaction from today and be ready for selection on Saturday.

‘We have three sessions now and we will do what needs doing. Hopefully I can kick on from here. I'm just happy that the injury healed quickly.’

David Luiz also made his comeback to training in the same session after being out nine days longer with a hamstring injury of his own. 'I was so happy I came back to training and I did 100 per cent of the session, and I did all of the movements. All the players in the world want to play in the Champions League Final and I am counting the days.'

Arjen Robben was preparing to come up against Chelsea for the first time since joining Real Madrid in 2007

‘I have no regrets about my time at Chelsea or deciding to leave when I did. I had a great time, especially in the first season when I was part of the team that won the league for the first time in 50 years. When I was fit I showed what I could do on the pitch, even if injuries prevented me doing it as often as I would have liked.

'But if we beat them on Saturday I will be the happiest man on earth. I still have great feelings for Chelsea and am happy they are in the final, but we are going to have to disappoint them.’

In his column on this website, Pat Nevin picked out a couple of pre-match positives

‘Being underdogs is always a less stressful situation when you are playing in such a pressure game, simply because you know for a fact that there is more pressure on your opponent. Of course we are going to have some big players missing through suspension and possibly injury too which doesn't help, but that also clarifies the thinking of the manager. I am sure Roberto Di Matteo already has his game plan in mind and will work on it all week.

‘For all the obvious negatives, this group knows fine well after the performances against Barcelona that anything is possible with a fair wind and the right spirit. The spirit of course is now a given within the group after the Nou Camp and then at Wembley [in the FA Cup final], a point that will not have been missed by the Bayern players. Bayern themselves are a very good side, there is no doubting that, but had you given me the choice of facing them or Real Madrid or Barcelona [the losing semi-finalists], I would take the Germans every time.’

Read more from Pat Nevin on Munich 2012 in his column this week

Didier Drogba was sent off in the 2008 Champions League final

‘It was a difficult moment for me but for the club as well, and I apologised to the fans. Since then we have played a lot of games and won a lot of cups and we won the league, and now it is one memory I cannot forget but at the same time it is the past.

'Now I look only at this game and I am very happy again to be in the Champions League Final. Moscow for Chelsea was an experience and we have learned from there.'

Marcel Desailly played in Chelsea's first Champions League campaign in 1999/00, when he was a team-mate of Di Matteo’s

‘Robbie has the love for Chelsea, he was even a shareholder if you remember when Ken Bates was the owner, and because he had his injury he didn't finish normally as a soccer player at Chelsea so he would die to win the Champions League for the club.

‘He will not leave anything to chance, and the elder players who are remaining like Lampard and Drogba will for sure give 150 per cent. I believe everyone is ready. I have been talking to Di Matteo and he is focused on the work he has to do. I am excited about the possibility of him winning the Champions League because our generation of players built a foundation of the winning mentality at the club. I hope it will be a guy like him that brings the success.’

Michael Ballack spent four years at Bayern Munich, and then four years at Chelsea. He had come up against us earlier in the campaign with Bayer Leverkusen

‘Chelsea played in the semi-final exactly the style you need to play against Barcelona. A lot of people say they can't play the same style in the final, they need to attack, they can't stay in their own box and wait - but they should play what they think is the best way to win the competition.

'It is just one game, there is no nice football and they have a lot important players suspended so they have to find a way to get a stability and to play to their strengths.

'It is like an away game and Chelsea know how to play away. They have done it a few times in the Champions League and they should do it again.'

Another former Blue, Clive Walker, considered the pressure Bayern were under

‘In the build-up the players will be comfortable in their own environment and, you'd imagine, would have similar routines to a Bundesliga match. Obviously we have to fly out, train under different circumstances, so it is more comfortable beforehand for them.

‘But there might be a price to pay in expectations. Sometimes the home side is expected to turn it on for a final at home, to perform. The fans are desperate not to blow it and may turn quite quickly if they sense an upset. No Bayern player will want to make the mistake that causes disappointment like that.’

The suspended players - seven in total - was a big talking point before the game. Graeme Le Saux had missed our Cup Winners’ Cup triumph 14 years earlier through injury

'It's a bizarre feeling for those missing out. What I did was to try and enjoy the trip and being a part of something that had got the club into that position. We won in Sweden and it was fantastic, but missing out there is a huge part of you that feels a bit empty because you can't contribute or make a difference, so you are a little out of the circle.

‘It will be hard for them, but they would rather be here going through this than not here at all, and I am sure the rest of the players will appreciate their being here and supporting them.’

German football expert Raphael Honigstein gave this website a tactical debrief on the eve of the final

‘Left-back David Alaba, who is banned, has really come into his own in recent weeks but in Diego Contento, Bayern have a decent back-up. The suspensions of Holger Badstuber and Luiz Gustavo are more problematic. Badstuber has been excellent this season and will be sorely missed. His natural replacement, Daniel van Buyten (broken metatarsal), is in a race to get fit in time.

'If the Belgian doesn't recover, midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk will have to fill in at the back. But that would leave the team without a defensive midfielder. Toni Kroos might have to play deeper, alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger, with Thomas Muller coming in behind Mario Gomez.

'It doesn't sound too bad on paper but Bayern are significantly weakened by the suspensions, as their bench isn't that strong. Heynckes will stick with his usual, possession-based 4-2-3-1 system and hope that his wide players Robben and Ribery can get behind the Chelsea back four.'

Our unbelievable run to the final; Bayern playing in their own stadium. The newspapers’ pre-match narrative was dominated by one word: fate

The Guardian: ‘This is their last chance to secure the legacy they crave – and the legacy they deserve. It's hard to recall the last time a side as brilliant and enduring as this Chelsea team failed to win the European Cup. The late 1980s Real Madrid perhaps?

‘Chelsea's courtship of the European Cup has been heartbreaking and ill-fated. It's been a litany of misfortune and near misses. Five semi-finals in six years, including one final; no medals and umpteen regrets.

‘When Chelsea were quietly beaten before the semi-finals by Internazionale and Manchester United in 2010 and 2011, it seemed that time was up for a great team, and that the European Cup was destined to be the one that got away. Then something perverse happened. Since the second leg against Napoli in February, Fate has been whispering all sorts of filthy promises in Chelsea's ear. The manner of their victories over Napoli, Benfica and particularly Barcelona has created an increasing sense that this is their year.’

The Times: ‘How could Chelsea believe that destiny is on their side when the opponents are Bayern Munich, when the final will be played on the German team’s home ground and when John Terry, their captain, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires are missing through suspension?

‘The billboards that greeted Chelsea’s players on arrival at Franz Josef Strauss airport spoke of “eine Stadt, ein Traum” — one city, one dream. The dream in question is Bayern’s pursuit of a fifth European Cup, which would put them level with Liverpool and behind only Real Madrid and AC Milan on the all-time roll of honour.’

The final word goes to supporter Craig Ludlow, from Surrey, who spoke to this website in Munich on the morning of the game

'We all know what the likes of Ribery, Muller and, in particular, Robben are capable of, but in Drogba, as we've seen so many times, we have a player who can win the game on his own.

'Di Matteo seems to have the magic touch in the competition so far and let's hope that continues for one more game.’


Tonight's watch party will be starting on this website at the 80th minute of the 2012 Champions League final, when the score was still 0-0 and with all the key action about to explode onto the screen.

You can join us at that stage of the match at 8pm UK time and as when we celebrated Bolton 2005 last month, you can join in the chat during the game and share your memories and feelings with fellow Chelsea fans, including some celebrities, on Twitter using #CFCWatchParty

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