As the age old cliche goes – There is a thin line between success and failure in life; and perhaps even more so in sports. When Didier Drogba fouled Ribery inside the Chelsea penalty box in first half of the extra time period, the Ivorian could have experienced the most regretful moment in his life as a footballer. Just minutes after scoring the heroic equalizer out of no where, Drogba was one Arjen Robben penalty kick away from revisiting aching memories of Moscow few years back. But as destiny would have it, Petr Cech saved Robben’s penalty and Drogba with probably his last kick for the London club, won them the Champions league for the first time in their history.
When one looks at the statistics of this match, it is hard to fathom how Bayern Munich were not the ones holding up the trophy at the end of the night. But Chelsea got the most important statistics in their favour, the one that ultimately goes down in the pages of history; the final score. Bayern dominated possession, made numerous openings, took lot of shots and had nearly infinite corners throughout the match, but as the time wore on, one could almost have sensed what was about to happen next. Chelsea were destined to win the trophy tonight, and none could have changed it, not even the Germans.
Thomas Muller eventually put the home team in the lead, when he headed home in the 83rd minute of the match, a goal which at that moment seemed to be the winner. But it was not to be. Didier Drogba equalised in the dying minutes of normal time, taking the match into extra-time and eventually to the penalties. Cech and Neur made one save each, from Olic and Mata respectively. Hence it came down to Bastian Schweinsteiger and Didier Drogba. The German of all people missed his kick and Drogba stepped up and scored emphatically.
Behold Chelsea, the new champions of Europe.
Bayern Munich Strategy And Gameplay
How They Started?
[4-2-3-1] – Neuer; Lahm, Tymoshchuk, Boateng, Contento; Schweinsteiger, Kroos; Robben, Muller, Ribery; Gomez
The suspension of Badstuber from the final meant Jupp Heynckes had to choose between Tymoshchuk and Van Buyten as partner for Boateng in the center of the defense. Van Buyten’s lack of fitness meant Tymoshchuk started, which in the end turned out to be a good one as the Ukrainian international gave solid display at the back.
Another surprise selection was that of left back Contento. Since Alaba was suspended, it was expected that Lahm would start at left back with Rafinha playing on the right. But Heynckes chose the young German who made only his second appearance in this year’s Champions League.
Bayern Munich held a very high line in defense with midfielders pushing forward. As the Bavarian gaints were not playing with any proper holding midfielder, one expected Kroos and Schweinsteiger to play with lot of caution. But in the early part of the match both Kroos and Schweinsteiger were seen making runs into the Chelsea box or trying to exploit the space between the Chelsea defense and Chelsea midfield. In fact, Tymoshchuk played a much higher role , and was usually the one who moved out of the defense with the ball, he built the attack from the back.
Contento was brilliant going forward as he teamed up with Ribery to cause havoc on Bosingwa down the left. Infact in the first half Lahm was the one who stayed back most of the time, and hence most of the Bayern’s attack in the first half were initiated through the left.
As expected, Robben and Ribery were the focal point of the Bayern attack. Both of the inverted wingers drifted inside. While Contento was up in support down the left, Thomas Muller often drifted wide right making space for Robben to drift inside. The exchange of passes between Ribery, Robben, Muller and Kroos was brilliant and Chelsea hardly managed to deal with it. In fact, if not for some poor finishing, Bayern could have been leading the match by two or three goals.
In the second half, Lahm played without his shackles. The Bayern captain was brilliant during this period and made mazy runs down their right hand side. Contento was the one to sit back in this half as Bayern’s attack was built mostly down the right. In this half Muller also spent most of the time on the right wings as Robben took more of a central role. The game followed a similar pattern in the second half with Bayern once again dominating possession and creating a lot of chances. But Bayern were awful when it came to finishing. Amazingly, out of 43 shots they took in this match, only seven of them were on target.
Top Performers – Philipp Lahm, Tony Kroos, Thomas Muller
Substitutions And Tactical Change -
Thomas Muller, immediately after scoring the goal was substituted by Van Buyten as Heynckes planned to see out the game. The Belgian slotted in as a center back and Tymoshchuk, who was brilliant all night marking Drogba was moved up alongside Schweinsteiger, while Kroos took up the role of Muller. This was a very decisive change and one that the Bayern coach must have regretted later. Muller was a constant threat for Chelsea and Bayern missed that threat in the extra-time.
The second substitution was a forced one as Ribery, who was injured after being fouled by Drogba, was replaced by Ivica Olic. The forward significantly missed the penultimate penalty in the shoot-out.
Chelsea Strategy And Gameplay
How They Started?
[4-2-3-1] – Cech; Bosingwa, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Kalou, Mata, Bertrand; Drogba
The most talked about and surprising selection by Roberto Di Matteo was that of Ryan Bertrand. The young left-back made his Champions League debut in the final. His inclusion was tactical as Di Matteo was well aware of the threat Robben and Lahm provided down the right. Bertrand’s role was to stop Lahm from moving forward, which he was partially successful in, specially in the first half.
Chelsea defended deep as many expected maintaining a similar shape as they did against Barcelona in the semi-final. But the problem for Chelsea was the fact that Bayern are not as one dimensional in attack as Barcelona were. The London club’s back four stayed close to each other, leaving space on the wings for Bayern. Bayern unlike Barca have potent wingers and a forward in Gomez who is good in the air. Hence the Chelsea defense had problems controlling Ribery and Robben, with Contento and Lahm overlapping. When the Chelsea defense tried to spread out and close the space on the wings, it left space in between the defenders capitalizing which, Kroos and Muller ran through them, specially in the first half.
Didier Drogba was largely annonymous in most part of the match. The Ivorian tried to run down the channels, exploiting the space left behind by Bayern’s marauding fullbacks, but was ably marshalled by Tymoshchuk. Lampard and Mikel also failed to make a significant impact in the early part of the match as the Bayern midfield ran through them.
Chelsea did, what they do best, they defended with the heart on their sleeves. Ashley Cole was particularly brilliant in this match. The clash between Ashley Cole and Arjen Robben was tipped to be decisive. Robben tried every trick he had, but failed to shrug off cole. The left back made some telling last minutes blocks from the Dutchman, which did prove to be decisive. The only blip in an otherwise brilliant display by the England international was when he lost Muller on the far post and the German scored with a header. Chelsea blocked off a total of 22 shots from Bayern.
In the end, the game came down to which team was more clinical and better at set-pieces. Bayern had a total of 20 corners in the match and failed to make any of them count, while Chelsea got their only corner in the dying minutes of the match and Didier Drogba scored with an absolute peach of a header.
Top Performers – Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech
Substitutions And Tactical Changes -
The first substitution from Di Matteo was that of Florent Malouda replacing Bertrand. It was an obvious change as Bertrand hardly provided any threat going forward. Malouda didn’t see much of the ball though after he came on.
The other change was that of Fernando Torres replacing Kalou. The Spaniard was brought on immediately after Chelsea conceded at the other end. Torres looked sharp and agile as he made some wonderful runs down the channels. He certainly had an impact; he even won the corner from which Drogba scored the equaliser.
TheHardTackle’s Player Of The Match
Petr Cech (Chelsea)
Petr Cech has always been immense for Chelsea over the years, and undoubtedly one of the best goalkeepers in the world from the past decade. This match had two world class custodians. Despite facing mostly wayward shooting by the Bayern players, Cech was impeccable when called upon. He could have done nothing about the goal Muller scored, not only did he make the all important save from the Arjen Robben penalty, he ensured that Bayern miss two of their spot kicks in the shoot-out. A legend in his own rights!