The club soccer season of 2011-12 had without a doubt one of the best final months in the history of the world’s most popular game. Starting with the Champions League semifinals – one series that ended in penalties and another that saw an incredible upset – then moving on to a monumental Manchester derby and then the incredible comeback win for City that ended the EPL season.
Well, the “Super Bowl of club soccer,” as I call it, was no slouch either and a fitting cap to an unpredictable and all-round exciting year.
We, again, saw an incredible effort from the underdog and one of the most unlikely wins in a while.
This wasn’t supposed to be Chelsea’s year. This wasn’t supposed to be how Roman Abramovic won his most-coveted Champions League title.
This season started off with hope for the Blues. They had brought in a manager for the future and were going to build a new Chelsea. Needless to say, Andre Villa-Boas didn’t work out and the players rebelled. The team that ended up hoisting that massive trophy was one that looked very similar to the Chelsea sides of yesteryear.
There was Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou, Jose Bosingwa, John Obi Mikel, Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba. All relics of the old guard who were supposed to one way or the other be left at the wayside. But these players all played their roles and played them well in holding off the hosts in Munich.
As the story goes, Mikel even told penalty-taker Arjen Robben that “Peter Cech knows which way you’re going to shoot.” That rattled Robben so bad that he missed and then even opted out of taking a penalty kick to decide the game. Who says all former teammates are friendly?
Under the guidance of Roberto Di Matteo – most recently canned by West Brom – the old guard stood firm through 120 minutes. And then all Chelsea had to do was beat a German team on penalties – much easier said than done.
We all know the result now and we all say Bastian Schweinsteiger’s cheeky attempt fail to roll home. And so John Terry, the alleged racist, the Chelsea captain that hung his team out to dry in Barcelona, the man who tried to barge to the front of the trophy presentation even though he was suspended. He was the most improbably happiest man wearing shin guards in Munich on Saturday night – but that’s a story for another time.
There were lots of improbably happy people, and lots of disappointed fans – in Munich and the supporters of Tottenham back in London.
After finishing sixth in the Premier League, Chelsea will still get to defend its Champions League crown. Whether it can or not is another story. But, after all, we have seen some pretty crazy, improbable stuff in the world of soccer.