Posts Tagged Arjen Robben

How Chelsea Won the Champions League


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.

Cech saved.

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.

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Top Ten Players of 2009/10


This would normally have come at the end of May but being a World Cup year, I held it till the Mundial was over before coming up with players I feel deserve to be so recognised. Obviously, performances at the World Cup in South Africa has a lot to do with the players that have made this list; a lot, not all to do with who makes this list.

10.
It’s a three-way tie here made of Luis Suarez of Ajax, Englishmen Jermaine Defoe and Bobby Zamora of Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham respectively.

Africa may not like him no thanks to his hand in Ghana’s quarter final exit, but Suarez is a fine player nonetheless as shown in the three goals he scored at the World Cup on the back of 47 goals in 46 starts last season for Ajax, putting him in good stead to replace Diego Forlán as Uruguay’s main man. Besides, if not for his handiwork, Forlán most probably wouldn’t have got the Golden Ball award because Uruguay would definitely have crashed out.

Defoe appears on this list thanks to his goals that helped Spurs reach the League Cup final, FA Cup semi final, finish 4th in the Premier League and qualify for a first ever UEFA Champions League. Redknapp’s continuous faith in him (from West Ham to present) has consistently being repaid in kind. Admittedly his World Cup was average but he did score a goal (more than Wayne Rooney).

And Zamora, whose crucial goals helped Fulham finish respectably in the league and imperatively in their amazing run to the final of the maiden Europa League, shushed his critics all in a season plagued by injury which ultimately cost him a place with England’s party to South Africa.

9. Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos

It’s difficult to place a defender among the best of them all but Ramos in my view is an excellent defender and with an average of one goal in three games for underachieving Real Madrid last season coupled with a solid performance for newly crowned world champions Spain at the World Cup, fully deserves his place here.

8. Maiçon
It’s a pity Brazil met the Netherlands in that quarter final match either side could have won and had Brazil won, Maiçon would have come in higher on this list. He had a good World Cup, scoring quite a goal but it is his season with treble winning Inter Milan that catches the eye. Maiçon was consistent for the Nerazurri and was one of the stars that helped Inter to that treble.

7. Thomas Müller

Thomas Muller

Thomas Muller

The 20 year old has had a season to remember having broken into the German national team with top rate performances for Bayern Munich on the Bavarians way to winning the league and cup double as well as losing in the Champions League final. Müller capped his season with five goals and three assists at the World Cup to win the Golden Boot award ahead of David Villa and Forlán.

6. Lionel Messi
In my initial shortlist of players, Messi actually did not make the top ten…something definitely wrong there and this is the best I could do for the Argentine hope following a World Cup below expectations for country and a season parallel to our expectations. Messi remained true to his pace, menace and sheer will to disgrace opposition – until Mourinho came with his tactics and the Germans with their machines. Messi remains a fan favourite and his four goals against Arsenal (for me) in the quarter final of last season’s Champions League sums just why.

5. David Villa

David Villa

David Villa

Fernando Torres is regarded as the golden boy of la Roja but a month at South Africa surely must have changed perspectives with Villa running the show up front and from the flanks too, scoring five clinical goals and simply justifying the £30m or so Barcelona paid Valencia for his services. Asides scoring, Villa was a team player (sometimes) and had more shots on target at the Cup than anyone else – the move from modest, cash-strapped Valencia was only a matter of time and his form for Spain with his new club mates leaves the world to wonder, who will stop Blaugrana 2010/11?

4. Arjen Robben
He’s one of those Dutchmen that fall prey to injury season after season and he’s had his little fair share this season which gives his accomplishment this season even more credence in my books, helping Bayern Munich to a German double and the Champions League final as well as playing his part in the Netherlands run to the World Cup final despite missing the group stages (safe for the substitute appearance in the third match). He however will rue for a long time his missed chance one-on-one with Iker Cassilas (who by the way, finished at no. 11 on my shortlist or having more players at the number 10 spot would just have made this lose some cred) that most probably would have won the World Cup for Oranje…bygones I guess.

3. Xavi Hernandez
Xavi’s only flaw is the lack of goals in his games, safe for the occasional free kick and poachers effort otherwise it would be his name; and not Messi or CR9 (with all due respect), that would be on every football lovers’ lips. That said, he again was at the heart of affairs for Barcelona as Blaugrana won a Spanish double and fell short of retaining the Champions League against eventual champions Inter Milan with his ever pinpoint assists and overall vision and intelligence.

2. Diego Forlan

Diego Forlan

I’ve only heard Sir Alex Ferguson state his respect for players he sold twice – Jaap Stam and Forlan. Forlan without question was the spine behind Uruguay’s run to a fourth place finish at the World Cup, finishing with five goals and capping his campaign at South Africa with a goal that had class glossed all over it against the Germans. That, plus a season with Atletico Madrid that saw him lead the Spanish side to the Europa League trophy caps a terrific season for the late bloomer.

1. Wesley Sneijder
Not saying he’s going to be named World Footballer of the year but then again, he won the Italian league and cup and the Champions League being the playmaker of the Nerazzuri before coming so close to lifting a first World Cup for the Netherlands…enough ingredients in my opinion to be named the best footballer for the year #nodisrespect. And to think he is a Real Madrid reject, along with Robben! Sneijder has come a good long way from his torrid time at the Bernabeu where ironically he won the Champions League.

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