Ballack views Bayern as favourites

Former Germany captain Michael Ballack believes Bayern Munich are the favourites to secure Champions League glory, but insists Chelsea can take the title (match betting – 90 mins – Bayern Munich 4/5, draw 11/4, Chelsea 10/3 with bet365).

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Ballack, who has enjoyed spells with both Bayern and the Blues, feels the fact the final will take place at the Allianz Arena gives Bayern the advantage but believes Chelsea have the quality to secure their first ever Champions League crown.

“Everything looks like Bayern are favourites, they are playing at home which is a big advantage in a final,” he told Chelsea TV.

“They kicked out Real Madrid¬† in the semis, and although they were two tight games, they deserved it.

“They have a good team and were in the final two years ago, when they lost against Inter Milan,¬† so they’re very hungry.

“But Chelsea know their strengths and know their quality.

“They’ve had a difficult season but in the last few weeks have showed what they can do.

“They play exactly how they know they have to in order to win and they still have unbelievable quality.”

Chelsea have a number of players missing for the final on Saturday, defenders John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic are both suspended, as are midfielders Raul Meireles and Ramires.

The Blues also have fitness concerns over David Luiz and Gary Cahill, while Bayern will be without Luiz Gustavo, David Alaba and Holger Badstuber (To lift the trophy – Bayern Munich 4/9, Chelsea 15/8 with bet365).

Lahm desperate to avoid ‘awful’ loss

online footblal oddsBayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm has not considered the prospect of losing the Champions League against Chelsea on home soil this Saturday (Bayern 4/9, Chelsea 15/8 Champions League outright with bet365).

The German giants are coming into the clash off the back of a disappointing end to the domestic season, finishing as runners-up to Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga while losing the German Cup to the same opponents 5-2 last weekend.

However, much like Chelsea, they have managed to cast off the shackles of their league form in Europe, knocking Real Madrid out on penalties in the semi-finals.

Their reward for beating Los Blancos was not only a place in the Champions League final but also the chance to become European champions for a fifth time on home soil.

With the final being held at Bayern’s Allianz Arena, Lahm feels it is inconceivable his team will lose the final on home soil given their impressive record at their own ground.

Bayern have won all but three matches in all competitions in Munich this year and are 4/5 to win the Champions League final in 90 minutes, with the draw 11/4 and Chelsea 10/3.

Lahm says he would be devastated if Chelsea were able to beat them on Saturday and says victory on home soil would mean more to him than most players.

“Lose it in my house? That would be awful for all of us, but me in particular,” he said.

“I’m from Munich. I was born here in this town. As well as a Bayern player, I am a supporter and I know what it means to everyone connected with the club.”

He added: “I would have to think about locking myself away if it wasn’t for the fact that the national squad fly out to the European Championship straight after the final. Thank goodness for that. But I’m confident I wouldn’t have that problem, anyway. We are only thinking about winning.”

Heynckes greedy for trophies

online footblal oddsBayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes is targeting a triple attack on silverware this season and feels his men can beat Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final (Bayern 9/2 Champions League Outright with bet365).

The Bavarians eased into the last four of Europe’s elite club competition with a 2-0 victory over Marseille on Tuesday night giving them a 4-0 aggregate success.

They will now face the winner of the Real – APOEL tie, which, barring an unbelievable turnaround, will be the Spaniards, who hold a 3-0 lead over the Cypriots ahead of Wednesday’s second leg at the Bernabeu.

The German giants are also very much in the race to win the Bundesliga title and are just three points adrift of table-topping Borussia Dortmund (Bayern 11/10 Bundesliga Outright with bet365).

They have also booked a date with Dortmund in the final of the DFB-Pokal (German cup), and so there is still much to play for this term with nothing yet decided.

It could be a glorious season for Bayern or a heroic failure depending on the next couple of months and veteran tactician Heynckes has made it clear to his men that they must take advantage of the situation they are in to bring silverware to the Allianz Arena.

“I told my team that the Cup final, the chance to win the Bundesliga and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League are all great successes,” he said. “But we want to have trophies in our hands at the end of the season.”

Madrid are one of the favourites to win the Champions League this season but Heynckes, while admitting that both Jose Mourinho’s side and Barcelona are stronger, remains confident his charges can reach the final.

“The two Spanish clubs are a bit ahead of us,” he added. “Nevertheless, we can beat Real over two legs.”

Ribery close to Bayern return

online footblal oddsBayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has targeted the clash with Borussia Moenchengladbach next week for his first-team return (Bayern 2/1 in Bundesliga 2010/2011 Outright with Stan James).

The French star, out since sustaining ankle ligament damage against Hoffenheim in early September, revealed he is nearing a first-team return for the struggling Bundesliga champions.

“I think there’s a big possibility that I’ll be there against Gladbach, at least on the bench. But against Nuremberg (the following weekend) I want to play at all costs,” Ribery told the Munich daily Tz.

However, coach Louis van Gaal may be reticent to rush him back after admitting he made a mistake in allowing Miroslav Klose to return to training this week, only for him to suffer a recurrence of a thigh injury.

“Miro really wanted to be on the bench against Freiburg, he trained and it went badly because he aggravated his thigh injury and will be out for at least two weeks,” said van Gaal.

“Obviously we went too fast. I made a mistake. It’s the first time that I’ve listened to a player. At 32, you’d think that a player would know better, but a player always wants to play.”