It takes two to tango and Chelsea refused to dance to Bayern Munich's early tune. Holding their ground and sure of their gameplan, they forced the hosts to play across the front of their defence. Once wide, Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben were discouraged to go on the outside and instead induced to work the ball back inside or take one touch too many. Both were disappointing; Robben, in particular, was a disaster.
As expected, Bayern dominated early possession as Chelsea dropped deep. It was not glamorous stuff as Bayern switched their attackers and swirled around the blue barrier. Chelsea's isolated counterattacks were handicapped by a lack of midfield pace but it was ultimately from their big-hearted defensive display that the medals were gained. Mikel John Obi was superbly disciplined in front of the blockers, David Luiz and Gary Cahill.
Bayern developed most of their attacks from wide areas and, particularly during the first-half, down the left, where Diego Contento joined the over‑indulgent Ribéry. As half-time approached Chelsea's belief grew and they gained glimpses of the Munich half, but they knew this would leave them exposed to the counter. However, Mario Gomez was wasteful and Thomas Müller unsure, and Chelsea could have gone into the break ahead through Salomon Kalou's threatening strike.
For 83 minutes, Roberto Di Matteo's well-rehearsed blanket defence had repelled all attempts, bringing back memories of their battle with Barcelona in the semi‑final. It was a simple theory and a case of survivor's luck, with Chelsea's full‑backs positioned close to their central defenders, never leaving space for Bayern to expose. The German side dallied up front and, ultimately, Ashley Cole read Robben, Cahill battled well against Gomez, David Luiz put in arguably his best display for the club and José Bosingwa constantly frustrated Ribéry.
Since being put in charge, Di Matteo has perfectly played to his team's strengths, maximising their ability against superior technicians on three different European occasions, with the last of those proving to be the finest night in the club's history. Football, what a game.