It was Chelsea’s time: here’s their Champions League timeline
Unless you’re a Spurs fan, watching Chelsea throughout their Champions League campaign this year has been nothing short of exhilarating. Last night’s climax, which saw the title slip through Bayern Munich’s fingers during an intense penalty shootout, was nothing short of a fantastic, magical end to an English footballing year that has seen more twists than a binbag full of flumps. The beer flowed, the tears flowed, and even the most casual of fans were reminded why football, as a sport, is in a league of its own.
Didier Drogba, Chelsea’s elated talisman and scorer of the penalty that would earn the London club the first European trophy in their 107-year history, could only muster a quick sentimental triplet in his post-match interview when he declared to a camera that “life is fantastic” before running off to join his ecstatic team mates. Their interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, even after winning the elusive prize, seemed calm and collected — only his face, which grew increasingly paler with shell-shocked disbelief — bore any sign of emotion after his team’s monumental achievement.
Although it was fascinating to watch for the rest of us, only Chelsea fans, along with a certain Russian Oligarch, will feel the true joy that comes with ending such a long wait for glory, made even sweeter by the circumstances which denied them finding it during recent previous attempts. Sports pundit Gary Neville wrote this morning that Chelsea’s name was always written on the cup — that their victory was written in the stars. Usually, this would elicit a fair amount of scoffing, but after re-examining the timeline, there has never been such an appropriate time to make a claim of this nature.
Chelsea’s dismal run of form after the Christmas period, resulting in Andre Villas Boas’ dismissal and Robert Di Matteo’s subsequent appointment, gave the impression that there wasn’t much hope for the Blues in any of their remaining competitions. This was furthered by the popular but under-performing Fernando Torres, who began to draw sympathy from anyone following his and Chelsea’s plight — it wasn’t exactly a run of events that looked like it would give way to a cup-winning streak. It was an incredulous effort that saw them turn the situation around, which culminated in the team quite literally putting their bodies on the line to fend off Barcelona — the best team in the world — and then a determined Bayern Munich who had not tasted European glory since 2001.
Other teams, including Manchester United and Liverpool, have been embroiled in equally fantastical European affairs (Istanbul is certainly on par), but none of them have gone about winning in such a peculiar fashion with such a tantalizing run up to the final. If one thing is certain, it’s that football, like the best soaps, occasionally serves up an unmissable storyline choc full of captivating and unmissable entertainment, meaning that the neutral fans among us can dip into the occasional sensational fixture and pretend that we’ve been there all along. Sure, the Euros are around the corner, but let’s not worry about that right now. For many Blue-attired people in this country right now, England are already winners.
Champions League Final 2012 highlights
Image Credit: socceranchor.com