THERE ARE ONLY two real tactical options for Chelsea to choose from (yes, I total skip the whole introduction stating how important and historic this game is). Since di Matteo became the manager (notice how I didn't say "interim"?), Chelsea has either played with a counter-attacking 4-2-3-1 or a defensive (thus, only attacking option is counter attack) 4-5-1. Both of these have been used successfully in the cup competitions. The 4-2-3-1 literally worked miracles in the second leg against Napoli, while the 4-5-1 pulled off equally impressive results against Barcelona.
As far as I'm concerned, these are the only two viable options Chelsea has against Bayern (unless di Matteo has gigantic balls to bring on a totally new tactical shift just for the final). So which one should/will RDM pick?
Bayern Munich are not Barcelona
Some suggest Chelsea go with 4-5-1 like they did against Barcelona. Sit deep with three central midfielders in front of the back four, absorb pressure and counter. It worked against the "best team in the world"; it will work against Bayern Munich.
This makes sense to a certain extent -- mainly because of the nature of Bayern's "wingers." Both Robben and Ribery are playing as inverted wingers (i.e. left-footed on right wing and right-footed on left wing), which means they drift in toward the center more often than not; Bayern relies on their fullback to provide width. So in Bayern's attack, a central striker, an attacking midfielder and two wingers moving into that central zone (not implying that this will always be the case), making that area rather crowded. By having 3 central midfielders in that zone, Chelsea can choke Bayern's attack centrally. It worked great against Barcelona who insisted on attacking through the center.
But Bayern has what Barcelona lacks -- aerial threat. If Chelsea crowds the center and allowed Bayern fullbacks to run riot on the flanks, Gomez will be in the box to attack all kinds of crosses. The suspension of Alaba should make things easier for Chelsea's defense but Lahm will be looking for Gomez every chance he gets. The last 30 minutes of the FA Cup final against Liverpool has shown how dangerous it is to allow the opposition to operate on the wide areas when they have a target to aim in the center (it needed Cech's brilliant save to win that game in regular time).
Additionally, Bayern doesn't hog the ball like Barca does, which means Chelsea will get chances to attack. Couple that with the fact that Bayern will be missing some of their key defensive players, it makes better sense to be a little more proactive. But Chelsea can't exactly go Dortmund on them (i.e. press hard and force them into silly mistakes), strictly because Chelsea cannot press as well as those in yellow and black did in the German Cup final.
That means Chelsea needs a formation (and a strategy) that is defensively compact but is also able transition from defense to attack quickly. The counter-attacking 4-2-3-1 with Mata slightly behind Drogba gives you exactly that! The Mata's ability to operated (dribble, hold the ball and make passes) under great pressure will be fully utilized in this set up (whereas he was totally redundant as a winger in 4-5-1 against Barcelona).
SO, I GUESS I'm endorsing the counter-attacking 4-2-3-1 approach (I should come up with a more polarizing title next time). What do YOU think? Defensive 4-5-1? Counter attacking 4-2-3-1? Or other random formation and tactics that RDM probably wouldn't use?
Carefree, wherever you may be...