Chelsea won’t be fazed by Bayern’s home advantage for the final takes a looks at Bayern Munich's home advantage for the Champions League final against Chelsea

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Di Matteo's side will face Bayern in the Champions League final on 19 May Photo: The Sport Review

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Munich home advantage can play into Chelsea’s hands

Surprise, surprise – when an English club gets to the Champions League final we all suddenly care about neutral venues.

After Bayern Muncih sent Real Madrid tumbling on Wednesday night to book their place against Chelsea at their home ground, the media and supporters alike have been berating Uefa for allocating the venue for the final before the participants were known.

But would anyone from this country have really cared if it was Barcelona facing Bayern?

Sure, Bayern have a tremendous advantage by playing on a pitch they know better than anyone and they will no doubt have extra motivation to clinch a fifth European cup on their own patch.

But don’t underestimate what a siege mentality can do for a side – just look at Chelsea’s semi-final triumph against Barca.

When John Terry was sent off and Chelsea went 2-0 down soon after, Roberto Di Matteo’s men regrouped and after Ramires grabbed a vital goal they battled hard with everyone behind the ball.

Di Matteo’s team talk writes itself for the final – do you need any more incentive than embarrassing the home side in their own back yard?

Don’t count out Bayern choking on the big stage either just as they did against Manchester United in 1999. The stadium will be split equally with supporters from both clubs and it’s up to the west Londoners to make all the noise.

Chelsea should embrace their underdog mentality because the situation could play right into their hands and bring them the trophy they crave the most.

Europa League where the real excitement is

Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Atlético Madrid and Sporting Lisbon will battle it out for a place in the final of the Europa League on Thursday night.

With Stoke City, Birmingham City and Tottenham Hotspur all falling short, it had been down to the Manchester clubs to hold the torch for England in the competition.

However both crashed out at the last 16, with the argument from the media being the top two Premier League sides weren’t interested – but should they have been?

The Europa League – and its predecessor the Uefa Cup – has always been the younger, less popular offspring of the European Cup and now the Champions League.

While it has had numerous prestigious winners including Juventus and Real Madrid, it has always been seen as almost a tin-pot trophy to the English hierarchy, a nuisance more than something prestigious.

Harry Redknapp said before the competition began in August it could be “a killer” to Spurs’ title challenge, and looking at how Tottenham have fallen away in recent months, those extra European games may have taken their toll.

And then the way United and City underestimated Athletic and Lisbon respectively was painful to watch.

But therein lies the answer: this is an underdog competition for underdog teams.

Look at recent finals – Atlético Madrid beat Fulham 2-1 in 2010, while in 2006, Seville beat Middlesbrough 4-0 and then Espanyol on penalties a year later.

When was the last time any of these teams were really challenging for the top spot in their domestic leagues?

It does throw up some cracking games too – the 2001 final was an absolute classic between Liverpool and an unfancied Deportivo Alaves side.

Trailing 3-1 at half-time, Alaves fought back to level the score then fell behind again to a Robbie Fowler goal.

But then in the last minute they equalised with a header from former United man Jordi Cruyff, son of Johan, and with the game nearing penalties an own-goal from Delfi Geli gave Liverpool the win and a treble into the bargain.

The Europa League can be exciting.

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