One Week After: Chelsea are Kings of Europe after Prestigious Double
There are numerous reasons why I haven’t written anything about the Chelsea victory over Munich exactly one week ago but I won’t elaborate any of the details. Instead, I will tell you about my experiences during that Champions League final.
Chelsea are playing virtually away. Munich on their home soil. Tickets are sold equally but you know that the Bayern fans will cheer louder. Meanwhile, I was in Malaysia waiting for the match. The time is 2.45 am. Another 15 minutes and the ceremony will start.
At that point, I kept thinking about how crazy Chelsea’s season had been. At the start, people were talking about Andre Villas-Boas as if he was a new transfer player. Then there was the streaks of wins and defeats under Villas-Boas. Chelsea’s defense crumbled under him. Every game won must have at least one goal conceded. Then rumors of the Chelsea Old Guard unrest. Lampard is rumored for a January transfer to Manchester United. Then there was the Carling Cup elimination by the hands of Big Four rival Liverpool. They will later win the Carling Cup. Then, there was the threat of FA Cup elimination after drawing with Birmingham at Stamford Bridge forcing a replay at Birmingham’s home. Chelsea was slipping down the Premier League table. Then Napoli delivered the final blow. At Italy, they came from behind to beat Chelsea 3-1. Only three teams have overturned two goal deficit in the Champions League. Under Andre Villas-Boas, it seemed unlikely that Chelsea would be fourth.
Chelsea’s season is over. Pundits said that this will be the worst Chelsea season in the Roman era. Changing managers had been a bad thing to do. Chelsea were not consistent. But Roman heard none and sacked Villas-Boas in the threat of Champions League elimination, a trophy he so desperately wants. But he had spend a fortune on Villas-Boas who delivered results like Shevchenko and Torres. A third name would join those two in infamy, Villas-Boas. To save money, he gave Villas-Boas’ job to his assistant, Roberto DeMatteo. He was a Chelsea player once and won the FA Cup with them but as a manager, he did not shine.
Villas-Boas and DeMatteo could not have been any different. Whereas Villas-Boas was overly confident and quite a drama queen on the pitch, DeMatteo was cool, a man of few words and had only reacted when he needed to. In times of crisis, it turned out, DeMatteo was the man for the job. His coolness and respect for the team was exactly what Chelsea needed at that time.
“There will only be one DeMatteo,” that was what the Chelsea fans chanted by the end of the season. They were correct. What DeMatteo did was nothing short of a miracle. He won it on Birmingham soil. He overturned a two goal deficit at Stamford Bridge. He won 10 of his 11 matches. He was DeMatteo. A man who put on a poker face on the field. Whenever someone scored, he just kept quiet, smiled and waved his index finger around. Totally different from Villas-Boas who imitated his mentor Jose Mourinho, yelling and jumping around when a goal came.
And before anyone ever knew it, Torres scored a goal against Barcelona under DeMatteo. THAT time he showed emotion, not to mention Gary Neville as well (you know what I mean). DeMatteo first won it against Barcelona and drawn them afterwards. And at Wembley, for two games DeMatteo had the help of the Wembley Expert, Didier Drogba. He and Chelsea had long considered Wembley their second home which made people think: “Why haven’t the seats at Wembley changed to blue yet?” Under DeMatteo, Chelsea has won another FA Cup, their fourth in six years. Talk about dominance. And they went to the final beating Tottenham by scoring five goals. At the final, they beat Liverpool with two goals. Blue vs Red, Blue won.
It seems that this year was the Year of the Blue. As I sat down the television at 3 am, I was wondering whether or not Blue will win in another Red vs Blue final. First half, there was nothing much to show. I haven’t slept till that morning, I drank a couple cups of coffee and Chelsea was being assaulted. I was alone at home and I was glad. There were cursing, they were kicking and there was shouting, lots and lots of shouting. Half time, I relaxed my vocal chords.
Then the second half. My eyes were wide. Chelsea were defending. I cursed. Then at the 83rd minute, Muller scored an easy one. I cursed and cursed. I stood up and didn’t sit down until the WHOLE game was over. I was jumping, cursing, willing Chelsea to score. And during Chelsea’s second corner kick, that miracle happened. Drogba, now Chelsea Legend scored the equalizer.
I shouted like crazy. Yet I knew that it was not over. For the next half hour, I have never cheered for Chelsea as hard as I did then. There was shouting and jumping and also kicking. That was what you needed to know. Robben had a penalty after Drogba fouled him in the box. I cursed, thinking that the Legend has became our destroyer. But then, Cech somehow saved it under his crotch. That was amazing. And before I knew it, it all came to the penalty shootout.
I wanted Chelsea to win. Penalty was all luck and skill. But stats were favored towards Bayern and even the commentators had said that when it comes to penalties, Germans have that nasty habit of winning it all. And queue the short nightmare for Chelsea fans.
Not only did Lampard wanted to shoot at the Bayern fans goal, but he gave Bayern the choice to shoot first. But little did we know that Lampard would only assist the drama. Lahm went first and scored. Mata went next and missed! What!? Did the commentators words would become reality? Gomez went next and scored and Chelsea changed gear. They were focused. Luiz was up next, a surprise considering that he missed one against Genk in the group stage. He scored. And then Neuer scored. “He saves and scores them,” said the commentator. The night’s captain, Lampard went with power next and scored. And then, Olic went up and can you believe it? He missed! Ashley Cole was pressured but he scored a brilliant penalty, one of the best I’ve seen. “That’s a brilliant penalty, by the way,” the commentator praised. At that moment, it was tied 3-3.
Then came Schweinsteiger. He won it against Real Madrid in the semis. He must score now, right? Fate didn’t think so and by the slightest of touches from Cech, it deflected on the post. And quickly after that, Drogba’s figure loomed in front of the goal. He was composed. He was carrying the teams hope on his shoulder right now. A goal would ensure victory. But Drogba didn’t rush. He took his time, made Neuer sweat and with one of the most easy-going penalty ever, he scored. Neuer went the wrong way. I bet even Drogba didn’t expect that because he was crying and showed a face of disbelief. After eight years with the club, he has finally won it a Champions League.
What happened after the penalty shootout was a mix of pride, adrenaline and tears. The game ended about 6 am in Malaysia and I didn’t sleep till 8 am. And that was not the coffee working. That was the adrenaline. Adrenaline and pride didn’t allow me to sleep. Instead, I kept thinking and thinking about Chelsea and how proud I was of them. Finally, a star above our logo. Proof that we are Kings of Europe. Shame that Drogba could not wear that kit next season.
Under the Roman era, this season was probably the season that people least expected Chelsea to win a cup double. I call this double the Prestigious Double. We were six in the table. We didn’t win the Carling Cup. Instead, two of the most prestigious trophies there is, the FA Cup and Champions League trophy were ours.
So, did Chelsea play beautiful football? No, they did not. Did they have solid strategy and immense luck? Yes they did. Did they deserve to win? That is up to opinion but to me, after that hellish season, they deserved to win. But, quoting the words of pundit Jamie Redknapp, this Chelsea team has defied logic this season time and time again. Chelsea did defy logic this season but by doing that, they won the Prestigious Double. The future will be tough for Chelsea without Drogba but at least Torres is staying. Whatever happens, for now, for the present, we know that Chelsea are Kings of Europe. We know that Chelsea has won the Prestigious Double! Our boys have kept the Blue Flag flying high!
Images courtesy of Chelsea Newsletter.