Monday, 21 May 2012

Chelseafc Part 2: The story of Determination, Perseverance, Team-spirit and Hardwork

Issokay, Dassorai! There's been countless talks on how Bayern Machine threw away the Champions League in their own Dormot. But I still maintain my stand, it was meant to be Chelsea. For a team that could single-highhandedly defy Barcelona's best footballing strategies both home and away to reach the final, such a team has something about it. Take nothing away from Bayern Machines, they were absolutely great with the football they played. No doubt, they would rue some missed chances with the likes of goal-machine Gomez, Arjen and Bastian feeling they could have done bera. But football has evolved as a game and to win it, you have to see it. The most beautiful teams are not built on footballing artistry but BELIEVE. I still say till today, that Pep Guardiola saw that BELIEVE fading away and knew it was time to call it quits (#sharpguy). Wise men know when the rain is coming. For those of us who didnt follow the match in its entirety, the Bavarians had a lion-share of possession, attempts at goal and clear cut chances. Gomez for one could have buried the ball at the back of the net on no lesser than 2 occasions in the first 45 minutes. Thomas Muller scored with less than 10 minutes to go. The German side allowed Chelsea to equalize with just two minutes left in regulation time, then missed one penalty kick in extra time(Baba Arjen) and two more in a dramatic shootout to see the trophy of soccer's premier club tournament slip agonizingly from its grasp in front of its own fans. With a victory, Bayern Machines could have become the first team to win the tournament in its own Dormot since the inception of the Champions League 20 years ago.
The road to Munich definitely was not an easy ride. Many pundits might argue that Chelsea's season was revitalized by the appointment of Di Matteo as Interim coach to take  over from AVB. Sure, that was when the transformation began, but this work started nine-years ago. Chelsea has always been criticised for their laid-back, pack-bus defensive style of play but that same style knocked out the former champions and enabled them stun the Bavarians at the Allianz Arena. Playing Bayern Munich in Munich was always going to be a daunting challenge and the situation turned almost impossible when Bayern finally netted the match's first goal with a  bouncing header from Thomas Muller just seven minutes from time after missing a series of chances despite Chelsea's defensive failings. Down 1-0 in the 83rd minute in a hostile stadium and with little offensive bite to speak of, Chelsea didn't wilt. Instead, it once again showed the resolve that led it past Benfica, Napoli and Barcelona in the previous rounds, came out of its defensive bunker and attacked with the necessary desperation. The result came in the 88th minute, off its first corner kick of the match (Bayern ended up with 20), Didier Drogba riffled a bullet of a header into the top of the net for a shock equalizer. Chelsea had stolen the momentum and certainly the match. All seemed to be lost again when Drogba brought down Ribery in the 18-yard box, but then the man who has always proven more than reliable when called upon, Petr Cech, saved the resulting penalty from Arjen Robben.

Many quarters dismiss Chelsea's victory, regarding it as mere Luck. For what I know, luck alone is not enough to guide you past Napoli, Benfica and BARCELONA. It has to be something more than luck. Determination, perseverance, team-work and a spirit that always yearns for success was all I saw in the blue-coated men. Frank Lampard speaks "I hate to say that before because you look a fool when it doesn’t happen. We’ve had enough bad luck in this competition over the years that people can’t just point at luck this year. We’ve suffered. “We’ve come to their home stadium [Bayern], we’ve defended for our lives. “People threw their bodies in the way of the ball and I think even the penalties when we normally think that’s ‘game over’ but we managed to do it.”

And then we take a look at the 3 who ensured that Chelsea's night in Munich ended with Champagne celebrations and a smile on Roman's face. Abramovich had flown 50 friends and family members to Munich to join him in a VIP suite for the game, and the group celebrated wildly with champagne and hugs.
Do I have a Contract? Abramovich and Drogba Celebrate Chelsea's Triumph in Munich.
1) Didier Drogba: Only few would doubt his legendary status. Such a dangerman he is, that it only takes one moment for him to turn around the destiny of a football match. With memories of 2008 defeat looming and 7 minutes to go, Didier took upon his shoulders the cross of thousands of Chelsea supporters when he pummeled in that header with 120-seconds remaining. Hero almost turned Villian when he brought  down Franck Ribery in the box, but his last kick of the season ensured that the Blue-half of London will have to spend the night drenched in Champagne.
Drogba has been on borrowed time ever since Chelsea splashed out $79.5 million on F9T 16 months ago and is now a free agent after reaching the end of his contract. He has been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League to join former team-mate Nicholas Anelka, where he could earn around $15 million per season, perhaps more now after such performance in Munich.
But if Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has any sense, he will do whatever it takes to retain Drogba for another year, at the very least. The big man from the Ivory Coast might be 34, but Chelsea could not have certainly done this without him. "This is what we have been doing for years – showing this kind of spirit," Drogba said. "I have been here for eight years and when you are a Chelsea player you never give up until the end. We try to give that mentality to the young players. This is amazing." Drogba's inexhaustible work-rate in the semifinal helped Chelsea beat Barcelona, and his thunderous header with two minutes left in normal time rescued the London club in Munich.

Cech: Ready for Anything
2) Petr Cech; Just how many times has he kept Chelsea's defensive errors in "check". Arguably one of the world's best hands in a glove, the 30-year old Czech republic international was the reason why Chelsea lifted up that trophy in Munich. Drogba might have scored the descisive goals, but it was Cech who made sure those goals counted. First making a series of saves in normal time, and then keeping out Robben"s spot kick in extra-time and then denying Ivica Olic in the penalty shoot-out. If Manuel Nuer was good, Cech was better. speaking on the shootout Cech said "I don't know what to say,". "I am so proud of everybody. I went the right way five times. I just kept believing!"Many would argue that his skills have waned in recent seasons, but I for one do not agree. Just like Buffon, Casillas and other World-class goalies, when you have a great team in front of you more especially a solid defence, then your performances would always be at the top end. This performance might have earned Cech more time at Chelsea, as the club was previously planning to launch a major attempt to sign Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul from Newcastle as his soon to be replacement. However, game-changing displays in Champions League finals tend to buy an extra bit of loyalty and definitely a year on the contracts again at least.

Cool, Calm and Collected...Di Matteo looks into the future
3) Roberto Di Matteo: Roberto Di Matteo was the head coach who set the tone for it all, turning around a season that looked doomed to disaster and failures following a dismal run of form that led to the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.  Di Matteo, who has given Abramovich the chalice that he always dreamed of, may or may not be around at the start of next season. Di Matteo took the job of Chelsea's assistant coach after being fired from West Brom less than two years ago, and recently took over the main job on a temporary basis. Today, the Italian stands as one of the hottest young coaches in Europe. Abramovich, we all know might be bountiful in cash, but not in mercy especially to his coaches. If he feels there is a better option available, he does not hesitate to do away with the current in order to bring in the other. Victory has assured Di Matteo a place on Abramovich's short list of potential permanent managers, but nothing more. Those close to the Oil tycoon know very well that he may smile with you on one night and then sack you on another.

Whether this trio return back next season or not, one thing is certain; they have etched their names in Chelsea's folklore for eternity. On the night where all odds were against them, the blues overcame all adversity to bring the title to Stamford bridge. Chelsea's Victory does convey a most important life message------Even when all the odds are against you, keep holding on. The last kick might just put you atop, but to ensure that it does, keep making the saves.

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