domingo, maio 20, 2012

Chelsea FC - Champions League Winners 2011/2012



And so it is... Chelsea are the new European Champions after winning a dramatic Champions League final against the Germans of Bayern Munich. 

Many would say the "Gods of football" had planned this unbelievable outcome all along. 
I am now a converted believer to this idea.

Since Roman Abramovich took over the London club in 2003, he was able to win everything at his reach, except for that coveted trophy to which all of Europe have their eyes set on. I'm talking of course of the Champions League trophy. 

The Russian owner has then put a lot of effort to win that cup and they came close a couple of times.In 2007/2008 they reached the final, only to be beaten in the penalty round by English rivals, Manchester United. A day that skipper John Terry will never forget, being the one to miss the crucial kick from the spot. One year later, against Barcelona, they were knocked out of the final in one of the most controversial games that I remember watching in the elite competition.

Nonetheless, Chelsea were still restless and eager to complete their trophy shelve. The bringing of AVB was a sign of that desire, but with a new approach. The idea was to remodel, restructure, reorganize, however, that idea never came to full practice as it was not applied in the right way. AVB was soon sacked and assistant manager Di Matteo was left to try and minimize damages. 
He did much more than that... He transformed what seemed to be the worst season of the club after the billionaire owner took over, to one that will go down in history as their first big European accomplishment.

Little skill or technique was applied to this formula of success, but a lot of heart and luck seemed to do the trick. We all know these are vital ingredients that can change the course of any game... If football has taught us anything is that nothing is to be taken for granted. Even the most unpredictable events take place every so often... and you must be ready to react when they come.

After their miraculous come back from a 3-1 result against Napole, Chelsea were still considered to be a doomed team. No flair, no skill... no chances! Their next opponents were the Portuguese side Benfica, a team that on paper seemed like quite an easy challenge for the Blues, but ended up being the opposite. The giants from Lisbon played better than the Englishmen, with more possession, more shots on target and if not for the referee's big mistake at the Stadium of Light (Estádio da Luz), Chelsea wouldn't live to tell the tale. But again, luck and other unpredictable details make football the sport it is. 
Chelsea won both legs and proceeded to the next round were they would find arguably the best team to ever play the game: FC Barcelona. 

Again, the crowd were everything but optimistic. There was no way a team so average throughout the season could go head to toe against such a powerhouse of talent.
But to much big surprise and against all odds, Chelsea won the Catalans with less one man, in one of the most exciting matches of their history, putting a "V in Vendetta" for that semi-final to which they were highly damaged by a poor refereeing. For this match a solid defence, big  heart and of course, Ramires... were all the Blues needed to overcome the Spanish powerhouse. An ironic sense of justice came to play I guess...

And so comes the Final, in Munich... The town of Chelsea's opposition: Bayern.

With a better team and playing in front of their home crowd, Bayern were favourites. Chelsea were said by most to be an easy target. Specially because the likes of John Terry, Ramires and Raúl Meireles couldn't play due to being suspended. It almost seemed too easy.
But when you reach a stage such as the final... there are no favourites. It's anyone's game!

Like a movie script about any underdog, you see the hero take a lot of hits and blows. You see them go down over and over again, only to then see them rise powerful and levelling the balance. And by the end, when you actually don't know who will win, everything is left to that one big finale.

A lot of twists and turns take place before unveiling what you feel you should have seen it coming from the beginning...

Chelsea were Champions!

Didier Drogba was the main character with his decisive goal (what a finish!) and penalty - although I must say, Ashley Cole was the best player on the pitch.

The final outcome - and not how the game's action took place - immediately lead me to remember what happened in 2004 , when Greece won the Euro. 
It wasn't even considered to be a possibility, but Greece worked their way up into the final where they faced the favourites Portugal, who were playing in their home ground. (See any similarities?)
The difference is that, as long as Roman is around and they maintain the high level structure and the "big bucks" flying around... They are likely to repeat this in years to come. That is my belief!

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