Chelsea reached their ‘promised land’ by lifting the Champions League trophy in Munich last night. The London team held their nerve to win on penalties in a tense final to Europe’s most prestigious football competition.
Their temporary manager Italian Roberto Di Matteo delivered what a spate of illustrious bosses such as Scolari, Mourinho, Grant and Hiddink could not as Chelsea continued their incredible run of victories under the former player.
Di Matteo held the courage of his convictions and fielded a defensive formation which had served the Blues well in their run to the final. Despite calls to go all out attack against a sometimes brittle Bayern defence, Di Matteo’ s footballing DNA is very much Italian and the Italians invented this type of defensive game that smothers opponents’ attack and strikes on the counter.
The Germans, for their part, provided a stiffer challenge even than Barcellona, managing 42 shots on goal 22 of which were blocked. Muller’s goal on 83 minutes was answered by Drogba rising superbly to meet a cross on 88 minutes and extra time was assured. It was one of those nights where Chelsea were living on the edge and when it come down to the millimetres it’s often luck that makes the difference. But fortune favours the brave.
As the clock ticked on extra time it was apparent that penalties would decide the winner and Chelsea seemed not to mind. That was brave considering their history in penalty shoot-outs in the competition. There was a strange sort of symmetry in the way ‘The Blues’ finally reached their promised land. Penalties, which had so cruelly snatched a previous Champions League from them would give them the chance to redeem themselves. John Terry who had fatefully missed that kick was in the stands and would not have to take one.
As both Chelsea and Bayern missed penalties Petre Czech proved he is still the best ‘keeper in the world and saved from Bastian Seinsteiger and it was up to Drogba to slot home the winning penalty. Drogba showed few nerves, even though he recently missed a spot kick for Cote d'Ivoire in the final of The African Cup of Nations. But Chelsea’s ‘Man of Destiny’ coolly scored with aplomb and the title was secured.
Di Matteo has done little harm for his summer job application as he can now add Europe’s biggest prize to his CV and the Italian can now join the pantheon of the most successful managers. The way he has managed Chelsea has been masterful in his man management, tactical nous and belief in a team that trickles down from the top. Di Matteo trusted his biggest players to deliver and deliver they did. Never boastful or vocal about opponents’ failings, the Italian is always dignified crediting others for their part in building a Championship-winning team. How spectacular Chelsea’s turnaround from a season that looked all but over to the biggest success in their history?
Another Italian influence in the dressing room is Dolce&Gabbana who are proud Chelsea supporters. We congratulate ‘The Blues’ on their incredible success and will be supporting them next year when they look to build on this success. There is a bright, bright future for Chelsea and Dolce&Gabbana is looking forward to it.