There’s a song that plays during the adverts breaks on Sky Sports when they are broadcasting live football by Tinie Tempah called “written in the Stars”, never has that song been so prophetic then it has for Chelsea F.C. over recent months. From a team that were going nowhere under Andre Villas-Boas , on the verge of exiting the Champions League, playing poorly in the Premier League meant that blues owner Roman Abramovich soon wielded the axe on the young manager and replaced him with Roberto Di Matteo who was deemed not good enough to manage West Brom previously.
However what Abramovich did has turned out to be a masterstroke.
Not only did Di Matteo get Chelsea playing and performing well in the league but he also has lead them to F.A. Cup glory, but both pale into significance as to what he and his Chelsea team have done in the Champions League. Looking dead and buried after being 3-1 behind against Napoli after the first leg in the round of 16 they came back from the dead to win 4-1 at Stamford Bridge after extra time to go through 5-4 on aggregate. Then after coming through a tricky quarter final against Benfica they were faced with the greatest team in the world in the semi final, the mighty Barcelona. At the Bridge Barca dominated but the blues somehow managed to come away with a 1-0 win, but was that going to be enough to take to the Nou Camp? Well in the eyes of many pundits and experts it wasn’t and after going down to 10 men in Spain when John Terry stupidly got himself sent off they all of a sudden went 2-0 down and to everyone that was it, game over. However those 11 players on the pitch with their never die spirit just wouldn’t roll over and give up and Ramires pulled a goal back just before half time. Then in the 2nd half, the best player in the world, 61 goals this season, Lionel Messi gets a chance to put the tie beyond doubt from the spot…….. And misses. It was then that you just got the feeling “Chelsea’s name is on this cup”. With their backs to the wall the blues put on one the greatest defensive performances in history, not just in Europe but in world football. Then at the death with Barca pressing for winner Chelsea hit them on the break and the man who hasn’t been able to hit a barn door from a yard all season Fernando Torres unbelievably levels the scores and Di Matteo’s men are through to the final 3-2 on aggregate. Now for the final itself and the Blues are massive underdogs. After all they are up against the mighty Bayern Munich, in Germany, In Bayern’s home ground the Allianz Arena, even the Bayern fans before the game were holding a massive image of the cup up behind the goal saying “our country, our ground, our cup”. For over 80 minutes it looked as though they were going to be right as it was 1 way traffic but Bayern squandered chance after chance before Thomas Muller put them in front on 82 minutes. With 5-6 minutes to go Bayern take their goal scorer of and replace him with a defender to see the rest of the match out but against all odds Didier Drogba scores with a bullet header from a corner with 2 minutes left on the clock to take the game to extra time. Like I said earlier after the semi final triumph against the odds and still being in the final in dramatic circumstances after 90 minutes as a team of massive underdogs it looked as if it was “written in the stars”. The extra 30 minutes couldn’t produce a winner and Arjen Robben even had a penalty saved, it seemed to be fate, so now we were down to a penalty shootout. Bearing in mind Chelsea have lost 7 out of their last 9 shoot outs and that fact we were playing a German team (as we never seem to beat the Germans in shoot outs) the odds were stacked against them, even more so when Juan Mata missed the first spot kick and soon the blues were 3-2 down after 3 penalties each. Then Ivica Olic did something unexpected for Bayern, he missed and Ashley Cole went and made it 3-3. So up stepped Bayern’s big game player, their talisman who had been there, seen it and got the t-shirt in terms of big match experience, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and unbelievably he struck the post. So up steps Didier Drogba in possibly his last game in a Chelsea shirt with the chance to win it, even the commentators are now saying it, “written in the stars”. How cool was he? He stuck it in the corner with all the calmness expected of a man of his pedigree and experience, and Chelsea were crowned Champions of Europe for the first time in their history.
Not only am I pleased for Chelsea as a proud Englishman that and English team of won the cup but I’m also glad that England has a Champion in next seasons competition and not a team that has won nothing. What do I mean? Well like I said in an earlier blog “Now call me an old stick in the mud and yes this maybe controversial but I don’t even believe that teams that finish 2nd or 3rd should even be in the champions league, never mind 4th!!! Why don’t we just call it the “Top 4 League” instead if that’s the case? It isn’t a league of champions at all in its current format, it’s a league of teams that in the case of at least 2 of our qualifiers so far this season have won nothing!!
In my opinion if this competition is really a league of champions then this country should only have 3 representatives which are the Premier League Champions, F.A. Cup Winners & League Cup Winners. All those 3 teams are champions, they have all won silverware and deserve it more than a team that achieve nothing more than finishing 4th in the league. Also if it worked like this it would bring a lot more prestige back to our cup competitions. Could you imagine Arsene Wenger sending out a team of kids against Macclesfield town in the 2nd round of the league cup? Or Alex Ferguson pulling United out of the FA Cup to play in a tournament oversees if winning either resulted in a spot in the champions’ league? I think we all know the answer to that. The cup competitions would go from strength to strength instead of sadly being devalued like they are now where teams are more interested in a top 4 finish as it’s worth more too them.”
Congratulations Chelsea, congratulations, Roman Abramovich and congratulations Roberto Di Matteo who surely deserves a chance of getting the manager’s job permanently?