|CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE.|
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.|
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|
|Cool, Calm and Collected...Di Matteo looks into the future|
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.