The UEFA Champion’s League Final: Chelsea vs. Bayern
Well, well, well. We’ve reached the finals, and not without some heavy upsets. Chelsea has overcome heavy adversity and management changes to reach this stage of the Champion’s League. With Di Matteo in as interim manager, it would be a dream come true if Chelsea could pull it off. Bayern Munich, on the other hand have different intentions. Munich was playing in their home stadium for the final and have won this tournament 4 times. Chelsea are no strangers to big games as they have once previously reached the final against their domestic rivals, Manchester United, and lost in a heart-breaking shootout. Today I went to Alondra Hotwings as a customer and fan to watch the Final played out in Munich. I asked the waitress for a Fat Tire and the kickoff ensued.
Chelsea vs. Bayern – How it played out
Chelsea took on their defensive formation looking to hold off till the end and nick one before full time. Bayern, though took the game to Chelsea with their powerful wingers and lethal finishing. I sat at the bar to get the clearest view and took a sip of the cold refreshing draft. Bayern moved the ball well in the first half, creating space in Chelsea’s half. Chelsea’s half, Bayern’s field was the case as Schweinsteigger came in later for a tough tackle, earning him a yellow card in the early stages of the game. Chelsea sent the ball long out of their half looking for Drogba who always wins flighted balls. The only problem being that no one made the run off of him. I went into the match thinking Bayern has the advantage of home field and consistency, along with a larger portion of their big-game performers. Chelsea has determination and strong will. Bayern retained most of the possession and the passes flowed as easily and quickly as the Fat Tire did. I ordered another and the game heated up a bit, Cech making a beautiful reaction save at the near post to deny Robben.
Ribery caused a lot of trouble for the Chelsea defense but Ashley Cole came up big multiple times. Stopping goal-bound shots by throwing his body in front of the ball. David Luis went into a few reckless challenges but had a clutch first-half performance. My food arrived and the timing couldn’t have been better. My stomach rumbled like the German crowed as Mario Gomez, Ribery, and Robben continued to blast the ball over the bar, punishing fans who sat behind the goal. The first half ended nil-nil and Chelsea fans blew a sigh of relief as the blues entered the tunnel. It seems as if Chelsea could pull it off. Bayern almost played the first half as if they couldn’t score. We all know Bayern has the capability in big games, but just not in this first half.
As the second off kicked off, I finished off the final bite of my Chili FF and Ellis Island burger. There is nothing greater than finishing the las bites of food, and ordering a final beer to top it all off. Bayern came out fast and hard in this half, hoping to undo the misses from the first half. My final beer came and it was a Newcastle. Chelsea had a couple of snatched opportunities, Drogba blasted one from 35 meters that didn’t trouble Neuer. Bayern though seemed to be kncking on the door every possession, resulting in reverberating oooh’s and ahhh’s from the crowd.
“80 minutes gone and Bayern are on the brink.”
A gentleman at the bar next to me, wearing a Chelsea jacket, eyes fixed on the television asked me what I had thought of the game so far. How to put this in only a few words… “80 minutes gone and Bayern are on the brink.” 3 minutes later and Bayern were attacking on the left when the ball was centered towards Gomez and Meuller. Gomez, having made a somewhat first-post run, clattered into David Luis. Ashley Cole had overrun the ball a bit and Meuller was alone. He jumped into his header, slamming it against the soft ground and causing it to bounce upwards, slicing the air as it went in off of the botom of the crossbar. Meuller nearly lost it. Screaming he ran to his team and slid, pumping his fists at the game’s first goal. His goal. Chelsea had to do something and called Torres over to substitute him in. Meuller also saw his number raised and went to high-five his teammates on the bench ad Van Buyten made his way onto the pitch.
Chelsea took over control of the game and saw their first corner kick. Mata drilled the ball into the center and Drogba, being pushed by Boateng, attacked the ball like a lion and I froze with the Newcastle Ale’s bubbles tickling my lip as the ball rocketed into the top of the goal off of Neuer’s fist. Unstoppable. Drogba is simply unstoppable. A train on the field he powered through the challeng to draw Chelsea level on 88 minutes. Pumping his outstretched fingers to his sides in his signature celebration he slid over to the Chelsea supporters and signed the cross. The stadium was on fire and all of the flame pointed to the number 11 blue. 34 years of age and still hero to the blues of London. Bayern looked heartbroken, but the German red machine didn’t get to where they were by giving up.
Bayern pressed and the game was forst into extra time. In Bayern’s huddle you could see Robben say to his teammates, “Keep your head in the game!” Drogba had another impact as Ribery dribbled into the box and he was nicked by the Ivory Coast man. Penalty. Ribery writhed on the floor as the eager Arjen Robben stepped up to deal what could be a deadly blow to the blues. Cech assumed his stance, arms raised and to his sides, making him appear like a marionette. He feigned left, right, then dove left. SAVE!!! He fell on top of Robben’s penalty and recovered the ball for Chelsea! The restaurant erupted in applause and cheers from the Chelsea supporters. Tables filled up quick and requests came out to change the television to the Clipper game. Eventually only the 67” television and surround-sound were turned to the UEFA final. After this roar however, all eyes in the restaurant, all of them were fixed on the big screen.
I sat there, front and center as the referee blew the full-time whistle to signal penalties. Chelsea fans surely hung their heads a bit remembering the heart-felt final in 2008 where they lost to Manchester United. 120 minutes and no victor, yet. The clipper game continued unnoticed as Lahm stepped up for his first kick. Americans were getting a true taste of European competition and the passion that accompanies it. Lahm blasted the ball to his right and Cech got a touch on it. The ball, however was destined for the net and Lahm screamed to the sky in relief. Mata stepped up and shot the ball hard and low to his right where Neuer had already dived. SAVE!!! Neuer saved it and Bayern were off to a great start. Bayern proceeded to make the next two, along with Chelsea. Mata was the only difference. Olic stepped up, the late substitution in place of Ribery who was hurt before the penalty. Olic shot it low and to his right but Cech was ready, having guessed the correct direction every time. This time he fisted the ball clear and now the light turned on for Chelsea. Ashley Cole stepped up and buried the ball past Neuer tying the game up. Schweinsteigger and Drogba. The two left to kick. Schweinsteigger stepped up. He jogged to the ball, stutter-stepped and banged it low and to the right. Peter Cech stretched but te ball curled around his fingertips and hit the POST!!! Schweinsteigger missed! Drogba has all of London watching him. Didier has all of Chelsea watching him, all of the restaurant watching him, all of the Germans watching him. The Chelsea number 11 who carried Chelsea here on his shoulders, revived this team and persevered has the whole world watching him. I finish the last of my Newcastle and glance around. The restaurant is silent, eyes glued to the large television, servers, managers, and patrons frozen. Drogba runs up and hits the ball to his left. Neuer dives, but it’s the wrong direction and Drogba scores!!!!!! CHELSEA WIN THE UEFA FINAL!!!!
The long overdue championship has arrived and the restaurant explodes! Didier cannot contain his tears of happiness. He said in an interview preceding the match that if they did not win he wouldn’t feel accomplished. Well they did. John Terry runs out to celebrate with his team as the underdogs Chelsea win the 2012 Champion’s League Final. Schweinsteigger is crushed and hides his face. He played a great game, but that is never enough for players. Especially captains. Chelsea have secured a spot in next year’s Champion’s League and John Terry and his crew lift the trophy. Winners!
Robert Dixon was born December 31st, 1985 in beautiful California and has been avidly playing soccer since he started high school. Having played in tournaments overseas and for multiple adult and semi-professional leagues, he has spent the greater portion of his time training while dedicating the rest to work, his family, and writing about the beautiful game. Currently residing in Los Angeles Robert hopes to further his career as a writer and a player and share his view on the wonderful world of football with his readers. Whether player or fan, the world of football (soccer) is filled with life and dedication. Show your colors, bleed for your team, and get involved!