It’s no more news that Chelsea emerged victoriously against Manchester City in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League at the Estadio do Dragao last Saturday with a 1 nil win via a well-taken goal by supposed generational talent Kai Havertz.
Pep Guardiola and his men were favorites for the trophy but found themselves wanting against a very disciplined and resolute Chelsea side under the tutelage of German manager Thomas Tuchel.
This came as a little shock though considering how both sides ended their domestic season. Regardless, we want to look into how Chelsea won the UEFA Champions League twice with an unforeseen strange and funny formula.
2012 UCL TRIUMPH
Chelsea first won the UCL in 2012 against all odds against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. The Blues came out tops on penalty kicks which were considered one of the strengths of German teams.
Roberto Di Matteo was the man in the dugout for the Blues and he had been hired to replace Andre Villas-Boas who Chelsea thought they had struck a gold mine with when they hired him.
The young Portuguese manager was coming off the back of a very successful season with FC Porto in the Portuguese League. He won the league unbeaten, the Portuguese Supercup, the Portuguese Cup, and also the Europa League in his first season in charge.
Villas-Boas established himself as the third-youngest coach to win the Primeira Liga (behind Mihály Siska in 1939 and Juca in 1962), and also carved a niche for himself as the youngest manager to win a European competition, at the age of 33 years and 213 days.
However, his season at Chelsea was a disaster and he was sacked when all wasn’t going as expected. Di Matteo took over a Chelsea team that had been intent on winning the UCL over the years but couldn’t in their prime years.
Regardless, he led them to a UCL triumph when they were aged and when it was least expected. This was the case even after they had won the FA Cup but missed out on the Premier League top four for that season.
2021 UCL TRIUMPH
Chelsea hired club legend, Frank Lampard, from Championship side Derby County in the midst of a transfer ban. The Englishman led the Blues to a top-four finish against all odds with a very young team with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, James Reece, and Fikayo Tomori playing key roles.
He was supported with major acquisitions ahead of the 2020/21 season and this was where the pressure got to him as his indecision and inexperience showed. He was sacked and replaced by Thomas Tuchel
Thomas Tuchel came on and steadied the ship whilst youngsters like Mason Mount and Reece James remained mainstays in the team. The German took Chelsea to the FA Cup final which they painfully lost to Leicester City at Wembley in a 1 nil defeat.
The Blues also managed to survive and keep their place in the top four despite being well beaten by Aston Villa at Villa Park on the last day of the season.
In the UCL, Thomas Tuchel led Chelsea past Atletico Madrid in the round of 16, FC Porto in the Quarterfinals, Real Madrid in the semis, and then domestic rivals Manchester City in the final against all odds.
It’s almost a similar process as the route to elite European success had to do with the sacking of a manager and replacement with another manager, a place in the FA Cup final, a battle for a top 4 finish, and a UCL final where the Blues were the underdogs.
The only difference is that there was an FA cup triumph in 2012 but not in 2021 and a successful top-four finish in 2021 but not in 2012.
Hopefully, Thomas Tuchel doesn’t follow in the path of Roberto Di Matteo in the following season. It’s all funny coincidences though.