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May 19, 2012

Bertrand set for Chelsea start

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo looks set to spring a major shock and name young defender Ryan Bertrand in his starting XI for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

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Bertrand, 22, has yet to make his debut in the competition but could be called in to left midfield to provide more cover on the flanks with the threats of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.

Earlier, Di Matteo said he was "very hopeful" that Gary Cahill and David Luiz will be fit but has called on two youth players as cover.

John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic are both ruled out of the match through suspension, and Cahill and Luiz have not featured in recent weeks due to injury. Chelsea are also without Raul Meireles and Ramires through suspension and Florent Malouda faces a race to recover from a hamstring problem.

As a result, Todd Kane, 18, and Nathaniel Chalobah, 17, have travelled to Munich ahead of Saturday's final but Di Matteo is confident the injured players will be available.

"Cahill and Luiz trained all week, so we are very hopeful, and Malouda will join the group today," Di Matteo said ahead of Friday's training session. "We have called up two players from the 'B-list' - Kane and Chalobah, just in case, but I will wait for the final session in the Allianz Arena to assess all my players and I will make the final decisions about the team selection."

Meanwhile, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech says he has done all the work he can to prepare for a penalty shootout against Bayern Munich but expects the result to be decided inside 90 minutes.

The Blues are bidding to become European champions for the first time, having fallen short in agonising circumstances four years ago when they lost to Manchester United on penalties.

"I'll have all the information I need for a penalty shootout but I think this will be decided in 90 minutes," Cech said. "I've been watching the tapes of Bayern's games. I've seen everything I can but in the end it's all about the moment and whether the penalty taker is strong enough to keep calm and place it well. If he does that then the keeper has no chance, so in a shoot-out you try to force people into mistakes.

"In 2008, we had plenty of information about Manchester United penalties. We'd lost to them in a shootout before but you can't always rely on what you've seen. You need to rely on your instincts."

Cech turns 30 on Sunday, and he says it would be the ideal birthday present to celebrate winning the Champions League with a victory parade around West London. "If I get a cup, I don't need a cake," he said.

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