Amidst all the fanfare, it was still insisted by the Chelsea top-brass that a top-four finish was the club’s main priority. And whatever little hope that was left for achieving that, was blown away when Pappis Demba Cisse drilled those two unbelievable goals at Stamford Bridge. Alan Pardew himself couldn’t believe his eyes!
The three-horse race for 4th place had been converted into a duel now with Newcastle and Tottenham fighting. And that gave rise to one simple equation. For Chelsea to qualify for next season’s Champions League, they would have to win it.
And just like Chelsea, FC Bayern were writing a fairytale of their own. It was a dream finale for them because of the fact that it was going to be played in their backyard, the Allianz Arena. And their journey to the final was made sweeter by a morale boosting penalty win against Mourinho’s Madrid in the semi finals.
Although at the semi final stage it had been predicted by many that the final would certainly be an El-Classico, it turned out to be quite the opposite. And coming into the finals sure came at a price for both the finalists.
Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and John Terry were all going to miss the final for Chelsea through suspensions whereas Bayern were to miss Badstuber, Alaba and Gustavo. It’s a pity that the game was going to be played without these talented players but nevertheless it was surely going to be a cracker of a game.
Chelsea had now lost pace on the top-four and finished a paltry sixth. It was their worst finish since Abramovich took over and now it was very simple for everyone in Chelsea Blue, win the Champions League final. RDM and his Chelsea side arrived in Germany as clear underdogs. Only one game eluded Chelsea the Champions League trophy that they so dearly longed.
And as they done in the semi-finals, Chelsea put up a solid defensive performance in their opponent’s den. Wave after wave of Bayern attacks were blocked and Chelsea held on until the 83rd minute when Thomas Mueller’s downward header crept in beneath the bar and Bayern led.
Immediately Di Matteo threw on Torres whereas Bayern withdrew Mueller for Van Buyten. And Torres had an instant impact, winning the corner that led to a stunning equalising header from Drogba. Chelsea had pulled level on 88 minutes to break Bayern fans’ celebrations.
The game eventually boiled down to the thrill of a penalty shootout. All the pre-match talk of the Germans never having lost a penalty shoot-out came into the picture. The scoreline stood at 3-3 each after the 1st four spot-kicks.
It was at this point of time that as a Chelsea fan, one began to believe that it was actually written. Schweinsteiger’s penalty, which took an eternity in ‘Chelsea-fan time’, was saved and King Drogba scored to send Chelsea fans into raptures all over the world. Ooh! The goosebumps!
Mr.Abramovich, watching from the stands jumped with joy and what followed was a series of mad celebrations and innumerable pictures.
The remarkable turnaround was complete! Di Matteo had taken a distressed, crestfallen Chelsea to the Champions League finals and won it! It was the fairytale ending to a roller-coaster season.
After being written off from every competition, Chelsea FC came back to win the FA Cup and eventually the Champions League. Suddenly you could see more and more Blue shirts around. Many theories were written about this remarkable victory but maybe, in the end, people always said and will continue to say, “It was written!”
The feeling of re-living each of these moments, the goosebumps, they are never going to fade away. And all I can say is that this was one of those seasons which will be remembered by many Chelsea faithful for a long long time. Not just for the Champions League victory, but for the sheer character, grit and determination shown by the team! History reckons that no team has ever successfully defended its Champions League crown, I think it’s about time!