Intro by S. Cadet
You couldn’t write a better finish to stalemate nearly lasting all of the match. And now, via gut-wrenching penalty kicks, Chelsea stands as your 2012 Champions League winners over Bayern Munich. It doesn’t seem that long ago when the Blues were the wayward side out of London.Yet the past isn’t meant for dwelling when you’ve just been solidified as Europe’s top of the heap. Let’s shift our focus to the main story lines and key moments tied to Chelsea’s epic victory. For now Bayern Munich, Tottenham and Barca supporters (what up Jason H.?!?) should just remember time heals all wounds.
1. What Chelsea’s win really means
There was a lot of loose talk about “destiny” during the UEFA Champion’s League final. The synonyms arrived once more when Chelsea’s Champion’s League triumph over Bayern Munich were deemed “written in the stars.” Here’s the thing about Chelsea’s so-called destiny: it implies that it was predetermined, as if some soccer God commanded the win. Chelsea wasn’t destined to win anything.
Moreover, Chelsea was a team that supremely underachieved in its domestic pursuit before putting together a pack-it-in-defense under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo in tournaments. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t deserved. They rode their style of play to victory, employing a “Rumble In the Jungle”/Ali technique which saw them outlast a tiring Munich. Chelsea deserved this win. They weren’t destined for it.
2. Hire him?
Does Roberto Di Matteo deserve the permanent gig at Stamford Bridge? No. He deserves kudos for gifting the Blues its first Champion’s League trophy in its 107-year history. However, its one thing to utilize the same pack-it-in defense in a short period compared to a full campaign. His less-than-memorable time at West Bromwich should elicit hesitation, especially when he’s managing world superstars and not second-tier EPL stars.
Give it up for the man even if he nearly cost his club with his ill-timed, inside-the-box tackle of Franck Ribery in the fifth minute of overtime. He disappeared frequently throughout the majority of the game* but his performance ensured this was his night. His 88th-minute goal and eventual penalty kick iced his name in Chelsea lore.
* Granted, he played more like Wayne Rooney plays for Manchester United. He got back, defended and ran around like a chicken with his head cut off for the majority of the game.
Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images
4. Defensive Substitutions
Munich manager Jupp Heynckes’s defensive substitution of striker Thomas Müller for Daniel Von Buyten was correct—in theory. However, Munich’s swap developed separately from Chelsea’s game plan since Chelsea came into the game with a defensive mindset. Munich’s substitution altered its successful style of play. Without their offensive threat in Müller, Munich permanently put itself on its back foot.