MUNICH, Germany: Bayern Munich and Chelsea were gearing for their Champions League final showdown Saturday as the Bavarian capital buzzed with anticipation ahead of the biggest game in club football.
A worldwide television audience estimated in the hundreds of millions is expected to tune in for Saturday’s clash between the German and English Premier League giants, which kicks off at 8:45 pm (1845 GMT).
The eagerly awaited final — which is taking place at Bayern’s home ground, the Allianz Arena — is a 70,000 sell-out.
A further 65,000 fans have bought tickets to watch the match on giant screens set up at Bayern’s former home, the Munich Olympic Stadium.
An estimated 25,000 Chelsea fans have travelled to Munich for the game, where demand for tickets has far exceeded supply.
Events in Munich will also be followed closely at the G8 summit held at the US Presidential retreat of Camp David, where British and German leaders David Cameron and Angela Merkel are to watch the game together.
Bayern are aiming to salvage a disappointing season by claiming their fifth European Champions League crown, which would place the Bundesliga side alongside Liverpool as the third most successful team in the competition’s history.
Chelsea meanwhile are seeking to win the famous jug-eared trophy for the first time, desperate to atone for their agonising loss against Manchester United in the 2008 final in Moscow.
It is the first time in 28 years that one of the finalists is playing at their home stadium, a factor that Bayern captain Philipp Lahm believes could give his side a crucial edge.
“It has been our dream to make it to the final in our own stadium. And here we are,” Lahm told reporters on Friday.
“It’s great to be here on home turf. We’re here every week, every couple of days we’re at this stadium. It’s our home, we’re at home here.
“It’s definitely a positive thing to play in our own stadium. We know everything here. So I think it will have a positive effect on us.”
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, who will captain the London side in the absence of the suspended John Terry, is happy for his team to be cast as underdogs.
“It gives them an advantage to play on your home pitch, to change in your home dressing room, to play in your home city with your home fans. But you know what? That’s brilliant,” Lampard said.
“I think the determination amongst us, to be an underdog for whatever reason, as long as you believe in yourself and have a quiet focus and determination, and believe you can win the game — bring it on.”
Both teams upset the odds to take their place in the final with Chelsea stunning holders Barcelona in the semi-finals while Bayern won a penalty-shoot-out in Spain to beat Real Madrid in the last four.
Bayern will be without suspended defensive trio Holger Badstuber, David Alaba and Luiz Gustavo who all picked up yellow cards against Madrid.
Chelsea will be missing captain Terry, who was sent off against Barcelona, while midfielders Raul Meireles, Ramires and defender Branislav Ivanovic are also suspended.