English Premier League side Chelsea will face Bayern Munich in the final of the UEFA Champions League on May 19, 2012. This is the Stamford Bridge squad’s second appearance in a Champions League final, the first coming four years ago, when they met Premier league rivals Man United, in Moscow.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 for £140 million, and spent over £100 million on new players. Jose Mourinho took over from Rainieri as manager and led the club to back-to-back Premier League titles in the 2004–05 and 2005–06 seasons. Under Mourinho, the Stamford Bridge side also won the League Cup in 2005 and 2007, apart from the FA Cup in 2007.
But despite his brilliant record, Mourinho had failed to win what Abramovich wanted most — a Champions League title. As a result, Mourinho lost his job to Avram Grant, in September 2007. Grant did what Mourinho couldn’t and led Chelsea to the 2007-08 Champions League final against Manchester United.
United won the final held in Moscow, 6-5, on penalties, after the match ended in a dramatic 1-1 stalemate. Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Old trafford squad the lead on 26 minutes but Lampard struck back for Chelsea just before the break. There were missed opportunities for Lampard and Drogba, before the Ivorian striker was sent off during stoppage time, for striking Nemanja Vidic.
Rain intervened and the penalty shoot out became a game of Russian roulette as Terry slipped while taking his penalty. In the bargain, the Chelsea captain hit the post with a shot that would have won it for his team. The miss left Terry in tears and he had to be consoled by manager Grant. The loss in the final was sufficient reason for Abramovich to sack Grant and replace him with Luiz Scolari, in July 2008.
Likewise, caretaker manager Di Matteo’s career could either take off or finish with the result on May 19.
Interestingly, the following were the eleven players who played in that final four years ago: Cech, Essien, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Ballack, Makelele (Belletti), Lampard, Joe Cole (Anelka), Drogba, Malouda (Kalou).
Barring Carvalho, Ballack, Makelele, Beletti and Joe Cole, all the others are still with the team, and that is sufficient grist for Chelsea’s critics who tend to wax eloquent about how such an ageing team can never hope to win any titles. But if memory serves me right, Chelsea won the FA Cup, not too long ago, beating Liverpool , in the final. Can they repudiate their naysayers again, against Bayern Munich? I can’t wait to find out.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.