How did Chelsea outplay Munich??
For you naysayers, think about this: How different was Chelsea’s game right after Muller scored that goal in the 83rd minute? Immediately after Muller’s goal, Chelsea went from a 4-4-1-1 to a direct and risky 4-4-2 by substituting Kalou on for Torres. Two strikers instead of one. The result was immediate; risk after risk awarded Chelsea their only corner of the game and Drogba delivered. Replays show how Chelsea went back to a defensive style after scoring the equalizer.
The above diagram clearly shows only one player above the half-court line. Chelsea set themselves up to be highly defensive, rigid in shape and awfully conservative. Compare this to Munich’s general shape:
You see, Drogba has always performed the same duty in Chelsea. That is to draw opposing defenders out, bring them out of position to free up space so incoming wingers/Lampard can come in and either create or score. In the final, Drogba would set himself up between the furthest centerback(Boateng) and the full-back(Contento) while attracting the attention of their most defensively capable midfielder, Schweinsteiger. This is why you would have seen Schwinny playing much deeper than usual simply because Drogba ‘teased’ him.
That’s not to say Chelsea were without faults. A formation as rigid as this calls for complete efficiency, which realistically, is almost impossible. Mistakes whether minor or major will always happen in a football game. Because of this Chelsea were most vulnerable when they lost possession (mostly due to Bayern’s front 3 constantly pressing) up front or when one of their deep midfielders (namely Mikel) pressed forward without maintaining positional discipline. This freed up space in midfield and this allowed dangerous players like Robben and Muller to play with space ultimately keeping them unchecked for a few crucial seconds. This is what led to Muller storming in the box, unchecked and scoring the header he did.
Honestly, Robben was probably the most careless player on that night.
Notice how Robben had 3 passing options. He had Muller charging in, Kroos on his minus and Gomez on the dead center waiting for a flick on. Instead, he took the shot by himself.
He did this over and over again throughout the entire game and simply failed to exploit the best option he could have had. This led to wasted chances. On the same note, where big men like Gomez rely on crosses to feed on, he had to run after scrapped efforts because Bayern didn’t cross much. Chelsea however, tried to make the best of whatever they could. They were more cohesive and had better clarity in what they were doing. Chelsea’s goal was ultimately Bayern’s mistake.
Notice the space Drogba has after he loses from the center of the box. This space allowed him time to calculate the spot for an easy header.
Bayern also failed to convert any one of the 20 corner’s they had throughout the entire game. Chelsea had fouled 26 times that game, showing just how defensive they were.
The rest was history. Bayern rightly had a penalty given to them but failed to convert that too. Mental fatigue and insane levels of stress could have possibly affected them since they were considered favorites to win and were playing on their own turf. Chelsea went on to win with a 4-3 penalty shootout score.Chelsea deserved it.
I could go on and on about this one particular game but I believe that too many statistics could bore most people and ultimately the point of this article would be lost. I am not a Chelsea fan by any means, I despise the club personally. But that doesn’t mean one can’t give credit where it’s due. I’m not trying to rub it on everyone’s faces, I’m simply asking not to judge a book by its cover. Just because they looked better doesn’t necessarily mean they were better. Being an Arsenal fan, I can tell you that with utmost sincerity and experience. So next time you believe a club didn’t ‘deserve’ to win, think twice before you take it as fact. Chances are, you’ll find a whole different story and you will be amazed.