Roman Abramovich fell in love with football when he witnessed the dramatic late surge from Sir Alex Ferguson’s boys to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat against the mighty Real Madrid side of the early 2000’s. He became so passionate about football that immediately he started conceptualizing his plans of building a team which would be playing a similar brand of football as well as winning trophies. He simply wanted to craft that elusive team which will brandish a level of football unmatched in quality and superiority. A decade later, Chelsea have gone on to make its arrogant yet passionate owner proud of the many things which it has achieved, from breaking England’s traditional two-horse race to setting up a winning mentality which doesn’t allow for a single season without silverware. Yet, Chelsea are yet to do what Abramovich had been wanting all these years. Winning the Holy Grail: UEFA Champions League. And perhaps this unfulfilled ambition has been fuelling the billionaire’s constant stance of looking after the club in a time when football means business and more and more billionaire’s are losing money rather than raking in the moolah .
Chelsea once again start their campaign in the elusive “ Champions League “ with one and only one ambition. A dream which turned from conceptualizing to vaporizing in thin air within a span of minutes. A moment which has haunted the Chelsea players for a long time and maybe they are yet to get out of it .
Stating that Chelsea have been one of the most consistent performers in the last 8 years in the continental competition would not be an overstatement. Reaching the semi finals 4 times, Chelsea have managed to make their mark as one of Europe’s permanent favourites to lift the trophy come May. Chelsea have had their fair share of controversies and excitement and have always disguised their approach to any game : sometimes defensive bullishness, sometimes all out attack. They have also enjoyed some of the hottest rivalries of the new millennium against the likes of European heavyweights Liverpool and Barcelona .
I bet not many remember Leverkuson’s fairy tale run in the 2001-02 season. Armed with a well knit unit marshaled by none other than German maestro Michael Ballack, they seemed to have done everything right. But the final hurdle proved too much for them and instead of stuttering, they fell flat down losing all three of the finals they encountered. Since then, Michael Ballack has had his fair share of bad luck even when he crossed the sea to become Abramovich’s latest muse at the Bridge. Hence, as the two teams line up tomorrow to kickstart their champions league aspirations, both teams would like to take some lessons from history, a rather uncommon bitter one to share .
Chelsea news :
Andre Villas Boas is the latest manager to have been installed in bringing the Continental trophy to Stamford Bridge and although immediate success in the competiton wont have any bearing on his stay at the Bridge, yet in the long run, AVB needs to fulfill his master’s dream, a thing which he fully understands. He understands that failure means exit and has thrived on the humongous pressure. With a trip to Old Trafford looming large, AVB needs to rotate his players in between the two games and one person who certainly will get a start would be Daniel Sturridge. Impressing immediately on his return, his exploits have cast deep shadows on the future of Torres and although it’s a long long season, Torres unfortunately has been in the middle of issues he should have avoided. With the addition of Juan Mata and Mereiles, the midfield and attacking options looks a lot more stable and threatening and should cover up for an old and ageing side. Didier Drogba will miss the game as he continues his recovery from his sickening head injury and a return for Luiz in the starting lineup might also be a tad too early although the issue has been kept under wraps for the timebeing. With no serious injury concerns to deal with, AVB has the strength and the team to achieve maximum points from the two games this week .
Leverkusen news :
Michael Ballack has had the distinction of playing in the most important game in the history of both clubs and experienced a similar fate in both the situations. Regarded by many as a true Chelsea legend, his onfield exploits have not been forgotten and hence would deservedly be honoured tonight. And even though Robin Dutt has expressed his concern over whether he would be fielding the German playmaker tonight, yet much of the talk has been of him coming back to Stamford Bridge .
But Leverkusen has more than Ballack to offer tonight as they have a formidable attacking line up led by the mercurial Kiessling and a strong defence which Chelsea’s stuttering forward line needs to penetrate through. And Robin Dutt has silently built a very strong team even though the shutterbugs would be tailoring the Chelsea gaffer .
Frank Lampard vs Michael Ballack
A battle between two of the best midfield generals in the world, these two have often thrived with the support of each other at Chelsea. But tomorrow, both of them would have their swords pointing at each other and we can forgive the pundits to infer from the duel t be witnessed as to who is better. Lampard needs to significantly up his game against a formidable outfit .
John Terry vs Stefan Kiessling
Regarded as the nerve centre of the strong backbone Chelsea possesses, his indifferent start may have something to do with his age. But on his day, even the best of the centre forwards would have their task cut out. Coming face to face with one of Bundesliga’s best strikers, it would be a treat to watch who wins the duel .
My Prediction : Chelsea 2-o Bayer Leverkusen