Photo credit: The Sun
The heavens are blue. Chelsea blue. The English team's first ever win of the UEFA Champions League was achieved through defense, magical moments and the right players. This is how they beat Bayern Munich today. For Munich, their run to the final in their home stadium was written in the stars when they defeated Real Madrid via penalties at the Bernabeu. But today it wasn't their time, their game, or their title.
The sheer drive of Chelsea, a team working as a unit, and their masterful striker, Didier Drogba, eventually painted the Munich night blue. This was after the home team had had the bulk of the possession and chances throughout the match. Indeed, Munich was favored worldwide to win it all today because of their record in the tournament, their rich history and the fact that they were to play in their home stadium.
It was Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng, Mario Gomez and company pushing harder and further up the field until the masterful header by Muller brought Bayern Munich closer to the cup in the 83rd minute. After that, Muller and Ribery were subbed off for tactical and injury reasons, and this proved fatal when Drogba scored a precise header past Neuer in the 88th.
Fate seemed to smile for Munich when a penalty was given to them when Drogba fouled Ribery in the penalty area. Robben would try to bring it home in the 95th of stoppage time as the thousands of Munich fans expectantly watched the Dutch maestro. Chelsea has another not-so-secret weapon: Petr Cech. The Czech goalkeeper is a penalty specialist and, full of confidence from the Barcelona match, he stood his ground and stopped a powerful but lazily placed shot by the Dutchman.
Extra time was a whirlwind of Munich attacks and trademark Chelsea defense. This is why Di Mateo's club was able to oust Barcelona from the cup. Sheer numbers in the back and tactical marking. It would go on to penalties and Petr Cech showed his worth once more, bringing a 1-3 deficit to a final of 4-3 by stopping Olic and Schweinsteiger.
It is fitting, perhaps, that an interim coach would win it for Chelsea. Abromovich always went for the flashy managers in Mourinho, Hiddink, and Ancelotti but they never got him the Champions League. The other time his club made the final happened when another interim coach, Avram Grant, was at the helm. Will Di Mateo stay? One can't argue with a Champions League trophy, even if the club ended in 6th place in the Premier League.
Often we are treated with true spectacles in the beautiful game and oftentimes the flashy fantasy will win over. Such was the case with Barcelona in recent Champions League finals and Spain at the 2010 World Cup. But more often than not, true teamwork and defensive poise helps a squad succeed and bring home a trophy. Sometimes poetry is written on the soccer field. Today Drogba and Cech were our poets.