Can Chelsea do the impossible again?

A look back at the famed 2011/12 season which saw the Blues win their first and only Champions League trophy to date.

Can Chelsea do the impossible again?
Can Chelsea do the impossible again?

With Chelsea left seemingly without a hope of qualifying for the Champions League this season having recently sacked a Portuguese manager, clinging to the hopes of going through the last rounds of the European tournament is their only chance; a hope that is perhaps too much to ask for?

Yet Chelsea have done this all before. The 2011/12 season saw Andre Villas-Boas relieved of his duties with Chelsea languishing in mid-table and looked doomed to be knocked out of the Champions League by Napoli ,after the Italian side beat the Blues 3-1 at the Stadio San Paolo. The club turned to relatively inexperienced but fan favourite, Roberto Di Matteo.

The former Chelsea midfielder defied the odds, securing an extra time 4-1 victory over Napoli at Stamford Bridge, with Branislav Ivanovic famously scoring the winning goal. Then followed a 3-1 aggregate win over Portuguese giants Benfica, setting up a huge clash against holders Barcelona.

The Catalan giants

The famous Spanish side had previously dominated European football and were strongly backed to dismantle a Chelsea side who had performed so underwhelming in the earlier games during the season. The stage was set for a Chelsea legend to step up and lead his side to an unlikely victory, step forward Didier Drogba.

The Ivorian talisman stroked home a Ramires cross just on the stroke of half time meaning that Chelsea could go to the Camp Nou and defend for their lives, and that they did.

Onslaught after onslaught of attack from the Catalonians was the theme of the night in Spain. Chelsea lost their captain, the leader that has carried the team through victories so often in the past was dismissed when John Terry saw red for an off the ball foul against Pedro.

The gloom in the Chelsea side was visible to any spectator, the Blues were doomed. The home side had scored two goals either side of Terry’s sending off, meaning that Barcelona looked likely to go into half time with a comfortable 2-0 victory over a ten man side.

Yet Ramires was sent through on goal by Frank Lampard and the Brazilian midfielder chipped a memorable goal above Victor Valdez to give Chelsea the lead on away goals.

More defending followed, even to the point where Lionel Messi had the opportunity to step up and finish the tie from the penalty spot. Yet the Argentine continued his poor form of not being able to score against English clubs when his penalty rattled off of the crossbar. Lady luck was certainly on the side of the West Londoners.

Fernando Torres is renowned for his unsuccessful time with Chelsea, yet the moment of magic when he raced away completely through on goal, skipping round the goalkeeper and tapping into an empty net justified his price tag in the eyes of many supporters. The goal made it certain that the Blues would be heading to Germany for the Champions League final.

Can Chelsea give John Terry the perfect send off? | Image source: Daily Mirror
Can Chelsea give John Terry the perfect send off? | Image source: Daily Mirror

The only thing standing in the way of Chelsea and their first Champions League trophy was Bayern Munich, who were playing in home stadium in front of a partisan home crowd that were expecting nothing less than a win.

Thomas Müller putting Bayern 1-0 up in the 83rd minute was just what that crowd desired. Seeing their side grab such a late lead must have made the Bayern fans purr with the idea that soon their side was to be lifting the. Unfortunately for them, again, step forward Didier Drogba.

It was as though the former Marseille forward wasn’t already etched into the very fabric of Chelsea history. Yet they needed him again, and he duly delivered. Powering a header into the top corner in the 88th minute. Then during the resulting penalty shoot-out, the decisive penalty was taken by Drogba himself. With what was billed to be his last kick in a Chelsea shirt he stroked the ball into the bottom corner. Delivering Chelsea’s first and only Champions League Trophy to date.

Roberto Di Matteo inherited a struggling squad, a squad whom no one expected to deliver success that season. The Italian delivered the most desired trophy in European football.

Now Guus Hiddink has to face a similar task, the Dutchman took the job of revitalising a broken team. Where players like Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas were not performing and ruled themselves out of the running for the Premier League.

Now Hiddink has turned their performances around, and given hope to Chelsea fans who believed that this season will bring nothing but disappointment. Getting through a tie against Paris Saint-Germain will be no easy task, but if history can repeat itself, The blues have every chance of lifting the famed trophy again.