Bayern 1 Chelsea 1: Lessons from a momentous Blues triumph
What did we learn from Chelsea's victory over Bayern Munich on penalties in the Champions League final at the Allianz Arena?
Chelsea join Europe’s elite
It was fitting Chelsea finally laid their hands on the top prize in European club football on penalties, with their 4-3 shootout victory banishing the ghosts of Moscow in 2008. John Terry’s miss when the Blues were on the verge of beating Manchester United has been over-analysed as Chelsea faltered on their European adventures. But the names David Luiz, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba, and of course Petr Cech, are now firmly etched into Chelsea history. Bayern and Chelsea were both attempting to make their mark in Europe – the German side were looking to draw level with Liverpool’s tally of five European Cups and Chelsea were seeking to be crowned kings of Europe for the first time. Looking back over their campaign, the Stamford Bridge outfit danced with disaster on several occasions – most memorably in Naples and at Camp Nou – but after coming back from the brink of elimination, Chelsea appeared destined to lift the trophy. Despite Germany’s great reputation in penalty shootouts, no English side has lost in such a manner to a foreign team – it was simply fate.
Blues defence holds firm
The Londoner’s defence were forced to retreat deep into their own half as Bayern dominated the final. Roberto Di Matteo was without his first-choice centre-half pairing of Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry – both picked up suspensions in the second leg of the semi-final – so the Blues boss resorted to the untested double act of Gary Cahill and David Luiz – both returning from hamstring injuries. The pair were offered protection from Chelsea’s deep lying midfield of Lampard and John Obi Mikel, and the wall of five, at times stretched, managed to prevent the Bundesliga outfit from scoring – albeit with help from the woodwork on one occasion. In particular, Cole took over Terry’s mantle as the leader of the Chelsea back four, if not verbally, through his tenacious defending. The England left-back was on hand to chase down an accelerating Arjen Robben and make a vital block as the Dutch winger looked to tee up Mario Gomez with the Blues defence in disarray. Moments later, the 31-year-old, who suffered Champions League final heartache in 2006 and 2008, vacated his position to track his former team-mate across Cech’s area and make another block. Cole was tasked with keeping Thomas Müller quiet and it was a mission he completed with German efficiency.
Drogba ends his Chelsea career on a high?
Drogba’s future has been the source of much speculation, with the Ivory Coast striker yet to sign a new deal. The 34-year-old, who signed from Marseille in a £24m deal in 2004, has made 225 league appearances, scoring 100 goals, with another 56 goals in 115 cup games. In possibly his final game in Chelsea colours, the striker appeared to be ending an eight-year spell at the Stamford Bridge outfit in limp style, with Müller’s 84th-minute goal putting Bayern in pole position. The Blues had barely threatened, having just one touch inside the German side’s area in the opening 20 minutes, with Drogba largely anonymous. However, as full-time approached, Chelsea won their first corner of the final, and Juan Mata’s delivery found Drogba, who rose above the Bayern defence to power a trademark header past Manuel Neuer. It was his ninth goal in a cup final, highlighting his big game temperament, and the African’s 45th strike in European competition. There was still more to come from Drogba as he stepped up to fire past Manuel Neuer and finally inscribe Chelsea’s name on the iconic European Cup.
Ribery and Robben fail to impress
Franck Ribery and Robben were earmarked as Bayern’s two danger men ahead of the game, and despite enjoying plenty of possession, the pair were unable to lock a creaking Chelsea defence. Ribery, who missed Bayern’s 2-0 defeat by Internazionale in the 2010 final, was marshalled by Portuguese full-back Jose Bosingwa. The Blues defender regularly received instructions from Di Matteo throughout a testing first half, and Boswinga was able to limit Ribery’s threat. But on the couple of occasions the French winger managed to out-fox his opponent, he failed to deliver an accurate final ball. Di Matteo deployed Cole and Ryan Bertrand, making his European debut, on the left side of Chelsea’s line-up to keep Robben at close quarters, and the Dutch winger was forced to trek over to Ribery’s wing to seek space. It got worse for the former Blues star as Robben squandered the chance to seal a special cup win against his former employers – the 28-year-old had his penalty saved by Cech after Drogba was penalised in extra-time for a reckless challenge in Chelsea’s area – a miss he would rue after Chelsea’s shootout win.
Gómez struggles in the limelight
Bayern were expected to capitalise on an understrength Chelsea rearguard, with prolific striker Gómez set to be the chief beneficiary of the suspensions handed out to Ivanovic and Terry. But the German international, who has scored 41 goals in all competitions this season, including 13 in en route to the final, was found wanting. The 26-year-old had a couple of early sightings on Cech’s goal before he missed two clear-cut chances to hand Bayern a valuable first-half lead and settle the partisan Allianz Arena crowd. In the 39th minute, Ribery’s miscued shot fell to Gomez but the forward looked to take a touch and the opportunity evaporated. Moments later, a Bayern counter-attack saw Muller neatly lay-off a pass to Gómez, who neatly turned Cahill but thrashed his effort over the crossbar. Perhaps fazed by the occasion in front of Bayern’s supporters, it took one striker who relishes the big occasion, Müller, to finally edge the Bundesliga outfit ahead with a header six minutes from time. In the 21st minute of extra-time, Gómez had a chance to put Bayern ahead again but his effort was heroically blocked by Cahill.