Saturday morning, before the Champions League final game, my nephew called me, as he usually will do, before such a game. We are as it were, each other’s favorite pundits. We both thought Chelsea would win it, probably by a score like 1 – 0. We were both completely in agreement that Bayern would dominate play for most of the game (we were right). We both thought Didier Drogba would be mostly unremarkable for the larger part of the game. But we also agreed that he would probably have just one or two chances at goal and he would score sensational goals on both occasions and win it (he did). We both thought the statistical lopsidedness of the game would be staggering in favor of Bayern (it was).
Everyone and their mother who had been watching Chelsea, particularly in the Champions League, probably went into the day thinking the game would unfold in the exact same manner. Except that Drogba would not win it. That the result would be different. That all the statistical lopsidedness would matter. That the chances for Bayern would be converted into goals. That there was no way Drogba would score on the only one or two chances he would get. That what happened to Lionel Messi was a single game freak thing. That it could not happen to Robben, Ribery and Gomez. That without Terry and Ramirez and Mireles, Chelsea were too exposed.
Were they ever so wrong? Despite a shaky start, Chelsea defended brilliantly. Ashley Cole in particular, and to the very slightly lesser extent Gary Cahill were uniquely brilliant. Peter Csec had one the best games we have seen him play this season. And they also got lucky from time to time in the game. In the 88th minute, with Bayern leading 1 – 0, their fans already beginning to pop the champaign, Chelsea got a chance at a corner kick (was it not only their second corner kick of the game at the time?). Drogba seemed to know precisely where the ball would be and he raced to attack. He beat the defender, jumped, made contact and powered the ball into the net. 1 – 1.
Chelsea almost gave it away in extra time when Drogba (it would be him wouldn’t it?) needlessly clipped Ribery on the heel in the area to concede a penalty. But true to their stout defensive posture of the evening, Csec saved it. It remained 1 – 1 as the game went into penalties. Juan Mata went first for Chelsea with inexplicably feeble attempt which Nueuer saved rather easily. Then it was Luiz, Ashley Cole and Lampard for Chelsea (the story is that Torres had wanted to take one of the penalties but he was not allowed – how little they must think of him!). Anyway, along the way Olic and Schweinsteiger has missed for Bayern. Then it was Drogba’s turn. If he makes it, Chelsea win their first Champions League title ever. Chelsea won their first Champions League. And they will not renew the Drog’s contract?