If ever there previously was a team more undeserving to win a title, Bayern Munich last night went a few steps beyond such courtesy of their display in the Champions League final ‘at home’ against Chelsea.
Contrary to being abject, the Bavarians were lively for most of the two hours of normal and extra time played at their Allianz Arena, piling intense pressure that bore 34 attempts on goal with 21 of those on target along with 20 corner kicks and 55% of the ball.
Chelsea may have showed up in Munich for the final, but the players’ approach throughout invoked the spirits that made the Blues knock Barcelona out at the Camp Nou late in April.
The Londoners could only muster nine attempts at the Bayern goal, with just six of them giving Manuel Neuer something to do instead of being a spectator. Chelsea also only managed one corner kick all night. It came two minutes to full time in normal time, five minutes after Thomas Müller had given the ‘home’ side a ‘deserved’ lead.
Didier Drogba rose gracefully to head the ball past Neuer at his near post to equalise to restore belief for the Londoners and knock the tempo down from a cocaine high to a lucozade high for Bayern.
Drogba could’ve won it in normal time but he sent his freekick, the last kick of normal time, well into the stands similarly to Mario Gomez earlier in the first half after the striker had used body movement to displace Gary Cahill and have a full view of goal.
Gomez disappointed on the night, but Arjen Robben somehow went from being denied from his numerous menacing forays into the Chelsea area to being a welcome nuisance to the Chelsea defence that found it difficult to contain him yet would’ve been forgiven for feeling assured it would all come to nothing.
Robben had made some space in the box in the first half of normal time and fired hard and low at the Chelsea goal, denied by a combination of Cech’s limbs and the post.
He, along with Franck Ribery, created good chances for Gomez and Müller that went begging but the moment was in first half of extra time after Drogba had fell Ribery in the box… PENALTY!
Robben smacked his spotkick hard and low to Cech’s left but the Czech goalkeeper followed to smother and save… and knock the tempo from a lucozade high right down to the pitch itself.
This was when I believed it was not going to be Bayern’s night, with the rest of extra time ticking away for the lottery of penalty kicks.
Phillip Lahm’s kick barely evaded Cech’s gloves, but he scored. Juan Mata, enjoying a fine Cup run in his debut season for Chelsea, saw his kick saved by Neuer. Advantage Bayern.
Gomez finally found the net, Neuer also scored. David Luiz and Frank Lampard kept Chelsea in it with successful penalties. Then up came Ivica Olic for Bayern’s fourth.
The Chelsea goalkeeper had followed every penalty kick taken against him on the night, and now he’d saved two of four. Ashley Cole complemented Cech’s effort by scoring Chelsea’s fourth kick. Up came Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Well… I thought it was the moment. Schweinsteiger saw his penalty calmly hit the post and he may not have, but I hoped to the gods from where I sat watching in Ilorin that the ball’d hit Cech’s back and casually roll into the net.
The gods must’ve been watching Avengers and be chuckling from the scene Loki got bamboozled at Stark Towers by the green one… I digress.
Having won League Cups and FA Cups for Chelsea, Drogba stepped up and did what John Terry should’ve done four years ago. Drogba’s winning spot kick killed a lot of demons from that night in Moscow.
It likely also signals the start of the end of Essien, Bosingwa, Malouda, Lampard and Drogba’s Chelsea careers but more imperatively, the beginning of a new era at Stamford Bridge orchestrated by Juan Mata, Ramires, Meireles, Gary Cahill, Daniel Sturridge, Fernando Torres and Marko Marin.
This new era will see Chelsea not whimper about missing the Special One but hopefully, keep faith in an interim manager that has taken the club beyond expectations with personnel available to him.
Roberto di Matteo has tinkered with the squad almost as much as Andre Villas-Boas did from August to March, but the Italian played his cards so much better than his Portuguese counterpart, choosing the high risk path and forfeiting a good finish on the Premier League table for the glory of the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League trophy.
*takes out Arsenal related paragraphs*
*considers putting them in another post… *
They certainly didn’t play beautiful football, they may actually not be as good as previous Chelsea teams but they have won Europe’s top club prize and after losing at home in Moscow, it was a fitting was to have Roman’s ego restored at their opponent’s home turf.
Congratulations to Chelsea FC.