November 19, 2017

Chelsea Did Not Deserve To Win, but Bayern Deserved it Less

In a game between any two teams in football, the assessment over the victor is usually measured by the respective abilities of each team in question. The Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern however makes for an analysis of a different nature, and after witnessing a painfully one sided yet fruitless battle between two of football’s biggest clubs the question must be asked – which team was less worse? It’s a counterintuitive proposition admittedly, particularly on such a big occasion where millions of people expect to see fast paced, attacking football reflective of the quality each side harnesses – but after this game, it is the only one a fan should be asking.

Bayern Munich were literally handed this title on a platter, they went in with the distinct advantage of playing on familiar ground where they had dominated all season. Their starting 11, barring Contento and Tymoschuk – was superior in sheer footballing terms. They came in with tremendous experience, yet the youthful exuberance needed to carry them through the fixture. Chelsea on the other hand, despite their unlikely renaissance, had a squad without a captain, fatigued legs and players who had just returned from injuries. Naturally this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I, like many Bayern fans – were aware of how comfortable and dominant Bayern would be.

The game proceeded as expected: Kroos and Schweinsteiger maintained possession dextrously, Robben and Ribery tested the defenders while Gomez tried his luck at every possible angle. Predictably, Chelsea dug deep in hope of absorbing all the attacks and hitting the Germans on the counter. However, within just 20 minutes of the game one could see that unlike Barcelona – Bayern had a more effective strategy against an unyielding defensive side. Gomez, Robben, Müller and Ribery all had the skill, speed and strength to walk right through Chelsea’s frail defensive wall, and did so with aplomb.

Mario Gomez turned a number of Chelsea defenders deftly, only to be denied by his own incompetence. From the very beginning, Chelsea’s defenders looked lively and desperate, and their defending was just that. Throughout the entire game, Chelsea’s back four jumped, clung and actioned themselves onto every Bayern player. Numerous times, Bayern found simple solutions to Chelsea’s tactical plan – go through them instead of around them. It worked, only however – to be let down by some woeful finishing by Robben, Ribery, Olic and most of all – Gomez. All these players had chances against Chelsea that were unimaginably simple.

Furthermore, they were even handed a penalty and somehow, made an absolute mess of that as well. They were even gifted with the fact that Chelsea simply do not know how to play football. Drogba might be a giant who resolutely stood with his defense with admirable inclination – but he, like the rest of the Chelsea squad – could not put more than a few passes together to gather momentum for a counter. In fact, Bayern were almost never troubled until Torres came on to use his pace and movement to dance past a few defenders. Barring Drogba’s incredible header in the 88th minute, Bayern were hardly troubled.

However, only so much could be done for this team, before urging them to finish the job off themselves. Chelsea had given them every reason to win, yet Bayern were reluctant and classless when it came to scoring. One could forgive this squad if, like Manchester United last year, they were hopelessly outplayed and outdone by a superior opponent- but this Chelsea side was hardly world class, and Bayern can walk away from perhaps one of the most forgettable seasons in the clubs history thanks only to themselves.

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