Chelsea defender David Luiz ready to step up from PlayStation to face the real thing

Brazilian defender hands Chelsea a big boost by recovering from injury for Champions League final

Sidelined for four weeks with a hamstring problem, David Luiz finally returned to full training yesterday as Chelsea's build-up to Saturday's Champions League final reached a critical stage. Hardly the ideal preparation for a central defender who will shoulder responsibility for blunting a Bayern Munich attack led by Mario Gomez, a striker Luiz admits he has faced "just in PlayStation".

That in itself is apt. After all, the Brazil international's first full season at Chelsea hit a low point when Gary Neville memorably suggested the Chelsea centre-back played as though he was controlled by a "10-year-old on a PlayStation" after defeat against Liverpool in November as the club's season started to unravel.

At that point, it was hard to imagine Luiz would, six months later, find himself with the opportunity to deliver the perfect retort to Neville's criticism; a Champions League winner's medal.

Then, the 25-year-old's occasional lapses in concentration and discipline planted seeds of doubt about his ability to quickly establish himself in the Premier League following his £25m move from Benfica the previous January.

The curly wigs Chelsea supporters had adopted as Luiz quickly acquired cult hero status were less visible at Stamford Bridge – "They love my hair, they don't love me," joked Luiz when asked about his relationship with the supporters this week – and the arrival of Gary Cahill in January ensured he would face more pressure in his bid to establish himself alongside John Terry.

The turn of the year, however, also marked the moment when Luiz's performances improved and with Terry and Branislav Ivanovic suspended he and Cahill, injuries to both players permitting, will play in partnership in central defence in the Allianz Arena.

Luiz, who was injured in the FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, is confident there is no risk of his hamstring failing and insists he will be able to handle the threat posed by Gomez, and the pace of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry.

"I took treatment every day, in the morning, in the afternoon and evening," he said. "People don't know that but I was always hopeful and now I'm so happy because I am 100 per cent [fit] for training. I can do all the movements and I am so happy for that."

Certainly the loss of Luiz or Cahill or, in what interim coach Roberto Di Matteo described as a "worst-case scenario", would deliver a significant blow to Chelsea hopes of beating Bayern in their own stadium. It would also deny Luiz a long-standing ambition. "One day when I was a kid in Brazil it was my dream [to play in a major final] and now I get my chance next Saturday to play in the Champions League final," he said. "Everyone will stop in to watch the game [at home]."

Luiz watched Bayern's appearance in the German Cup final last weekend where he saw Gomez and his team-mates suffer an embarrassing 5-2 defeat against Borussia Dortmund.

That will have provided him with a more accurate portrayal of Saturday's opponents than the one on his gaming console, although the centre-back insists a different Bayern will turn up on Saturday night. "They will be more angry when they play against Chelsea now," he said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...