The UEFA Champions League 2012 Champions

Aside from a high score, the 2012 UEFA Champions League final had everything a soccer fan could want:  lots of attacking action, 30 minutes of extra time, and the champions determined by Shots from the Mark.

Prior to the first goal being scored by Bayern Munich, the had possessed the ball nearly 60% to Chelsea’s 40% and they had 26 attempts on goal to Chelsea’s 5.  Not even a minute after the boradcast showed the comparison of “attempts on goal,” Bayern Munich sent a cross to the far post where Thomas Muller put a powerful header on it, directed downward toward the feet of Petr Cech, who’d been fantastic all game.  Somehow Cech misplayed the bounce and it sailed up over his shoulder and into the net, giving Bayern Munich the lead with seven minutes to go in regulation.

Chelsea, who’d had a few periods of attack throughout the game, now ramped up the pressure with time expiring, and earned their first corner kick of the game.  The ball was served in to just outside the six on the near post side where Didier Drogba put a solid header on it into the near post corner, equalizing the game.

Regulation and then stoppage time expired with the game still drawn, so they went to Extra time…two fifteen minute periods.  Early into the first extra time preiod, Drogba clipped Franck Ribery’s heel inside the penalty box, drawing a yellow card and giving Bayern Munich a penalty shot.  Arjen Robben took the PK for Bayern Munich and Petr Cech made a fantastic save, firing Chelsea up, giving them a spark to get back on the attack, but at the end of Extra time, the score was still 1-1, meaning the 2012 UEFA Champions would be determined by Shots from the Mark…essentially penalty kicks.

Bayern Munich’s Philip Lahm scored their first shot, followed by Chelsea’s Juan Mata who’s shot was saved by Neuer.  The next two shots for each team were made, Mario Gomez and Manuel Neuer for Bayern and David Luiz and Frank Lampard for Chelsea.  Bayern Munich’s next shot by Ivica Olic was saved beautifully by a diving Petr Cech who batted the ball away with a hand, and Chelsea’s Ashley Cole scored to even the shoot out at three a piece. Bastian Schweinsteiger hit a hard low shot that just got past Cech to hit the post and bounce out, setting up Chelsea’s Man of the Match, Didier Drogba, who buried the goal in the net, giving Chelsea their first UEFA Champions League title.

While the game was low scoring, it was far from exciting.  Most of the action was with Bayern Munich in attack mode, interspersed with periods of Chelsea going on the attack, which made for plenty of suspenseful minutes wondering when Bayern Munich would eventually find the back of the net.  Chelsea played outstanding team defense and Ashley Cole provided a clinic on how to play left fullback.  Aside from the one shocking moment when the savable header bounced passed Petr Cech, he played a phenomenal game.  Even on the Shots from the Mark that he didn’t save, he was inches from stopping them.  He’s actually who I’d pick for the Man of the Match.

By winning the Champions League, Chelsea has earned themselves a spot in next year’s competition, knocking Tottenham out.

It will be interesting to see if Di Matteo gets to stay on as manager of Chelsea after not only turning the team around, but also bringing home their first ever Champions League title.

Congratulations, Chelsea!

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