Chelsea are Champions: Do They Have Italy to Thank?
The long wait is over! The Blues faithful can finally celebrate after Chelsea FC claim their first Champions League title in club history with a victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. The match ended 1-1 after regulation and needed penalty kicks to decide the encounter.
At the Allianz Arena, two teams who no one thought would qualify for the final put in a fine performance and demonstrated that they deserve to be there. Both sides were determined and played a very solid game creating various scoring opportunities and defending extremely well. However, it must be noted that the Germans played more on the offensive end though, but scuffed many of their chances well wide or over the net. It was surprising to see players such as Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben all missing clear-cut goal scoring chances.
Chelsea held on and weathered the storm quiet well. Sitting back and defending most of the time, soaking up the pressure and counter-attacking when the opportunity seemed fit. Sound familiar? Yes, it was that boring old style of soccer that everyone hates and thinks does not work. You know the one that is typically Italian – or at least used to be? Yes there it is. Chelsea’s tactics looked very similar to those of catenaccio, which is Italian for defending and counter-attacking when the opportunity strikes – and it worked! Chelsea supporters should praise head coach and ex-Chelsea man Roberto Di Matteo for taking over the reins after the London-side sacked Andres Villas-Boas.
The 41 year old Italian tactician took charge of the remaining 21 games in all competitions: Premiership League, FA Cup, and Champions League. Since then, he has successfully masterminded Chelsea’s resurgence with 13 wins, 5 draws, and only 3 losses – a win ratio of 62%. His victories include the FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool, as well as eliminating SSC Napoli, Benfica, and the world’s best club Barcelona in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
Prior to appointing Di Matteo as head coach, Chelsea iterated that no decision on a long-term heir to Villas-Boas will be taken until the summer as the club has plans to lure soon-to-be ex–Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola to take control at Stamford Bridge.
Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes believes that Roberto Di Matteo fully deserves to be the full-time manager for Chelsea seeing that he has guided the Blues to success this term. The club needs to seriously consider signing the Italian, not only due to the consistency and improvements he has made during his time, but also due to the fact that he is a former Chelsea player and has Blue flowing through his veins. Appointing an ex-player with dignity certainly does have its advantages. Just look at the marvelous metamorphosis Juventus head Coach Antonio Conte has done with his side this year. After finishing in 7th place for two consecutive years, the Bianconeri went undefeated this term to lift the Scudetto and have a chance to end the campaign with even more success should the Old Lady claim the Italian Cup today against Napoli. Heart, grit, and determination are all qualities that a former player, now coach, can transfer over to the current roster.
All hail Roberto Di Matteo and his catenaccio brilliance for bringing life back to Chelsea, because God knows it would not have happened with Villas-Boas as coach.
…and that is the last word.