Tale of two cities – Chelsea edge meets Munich stodge for big final

Today's game is not just about football. John Walsh looks forward to an epic clash of off-field lifestyles

As Chelsea fans pour into the Allianz Arena this afternoon for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, a lot more is at stake than football. The match embodies a clash between two ways of life, almost two civilisations. One side represent a city – the third largest in Germany – and the other a smallish district of London; but when it comes to cultural importance, it's just no contest.

Think of Munich and your mind fills with beer halls, Bavarian monks, Baroque music and bubonic plague. It's where the Nazis first appeared (in a "Beer Hall Putsch" in 1923). Its name is synonymous with the failure of appeasement in 1938 and the assassination of Israeli athletes in 1972. Modern Munich is a city of sturdy workers, stolid economic sense and sausage-based cuisine. Weighed down by weisswurst (white sausage) in the morning and leberknödel soup (bread-dumpling soup with liver and onions) around lunchtime, Munich dwellers are not – by modern German standards – a chic, well-dressed or light-footed bunch. They enjoy a quiet life: the crime rate is so low in comparison with Berlin and Hamburg, the city is known as "Toytown" by English-speaking citizens.

Chelsea, by comparison, is all edge and swagger; it's where money, fashion and arty novelty meet and swan about the place, eating Portuguese custard tarts. Think of Chelsea, and you're overwhelmed with images of the buns, the stacked-heel boots, the Arts Club, the Flower Show and Bridge, the (now sadly defunct) Drugstore and the Pensioners. It's maintained royal connections down the centuries: the King's Road, the home of Swinging London in 1966 and of punk a decade later, originally ran from Fulham to Charles II's home at St James's Palace. Arty royalty has always lived here: the Pre-Raphaelites, Oscar Wilde, George Eliot, Algernon Swinburne and Mick Jagger. Its modern inhabitants are well-coiffed, sophisticated and dressed by Reiss or Zadig and Voltaire.

The difference between the places is the difference between convention and daring, between ordinary and sublime. Munich has a keen-to-please city motto, "München mag dich" ("Munich likes you"); Chelsea has no motto, but if it did it would be: "Chelsea thinks you're a bit naff, darling, quite frankly."

Munich likes to call itself "Millionendorf" or "village of a million people". Chelsea was historically known as "a village of palaces". There's the essential difference, right there. Munich-dwellers dream of a gemütlich existence in a huge community of like-minded citizens. Chelsea-ites just want their friends, whom they visit all the time in their rarely lovely homes in Draycott Place and Flood Street.

I mean, where would you rather live?

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine