A Look Back at Chelsea’s Champions League Title-Winning Campaigns – Talk Chelsea

For Chelsea fans, the 2023/24 Champions League has made for difficult viewing. Of course, the matches have been good – the matchup between Union Berlin and Real Madrid was one of the most entertaining 90 minutes of football in recent memory – but Chelsea’s absence has undoubtedly put a damper on things. 

That absence was set in stone after the disappointing game against Real Madrid that happened in April last year. Not only did this game see Chelsea lose out on the chance to lift a third Champions League trophy – although that was looking pretty slim at the chance – but it also ensured they would not play in the competition during the current season. 

There was an indisputable air of gloom when fans walked away from Stamford Bridge that day, with many wondering whether Chelsea had become – we shudder to think about it – a bad team. 

But while their fortunes have not been great recently, it’s hard to envision Chelsea going on a downward spiral, especially considering their past triumphs. 

Remember, 2021 and even 2012 were not too long ago. These were the years when Chelsea marched through some of the best teams in the world, coming up trumps in two finals that are etched forever into the Blues’ memory.

Do these victories improve their Champions league odds for 2024/25? Well, probably not. But there are undoubtedly cues that can be learned by the team moving forward.

What Did Chelsea Get Right?

It’s hard not to talk about the 2012 Champions League campaign without mentioning club legend Didier Drogba. In the final against Bayern Munich, it was Drogba who turned hero when he equalised in the 88th minute of the game, keeping Chelsea’s trophy hopes alive before a tense penalty shootout saw them get over the line. 

Throughout the campaign as a whole, Drogba had been a rock for the players, many of whom had been written off before the first ball was even kicked. His experience – as well as the experience of players like John Terry, Peter Cech, and Frank Lampard – proved vital. 

People forget that, near the beginning of the tournament, Chelsea went through a full managerial change. The original manager, Andre Villas-Boas had been criticised for phasing out the older players in favour of new ones, but when Roberto Di Matteo took over, this ethos was switched on its head. The once ostracised older players were brought back into the mix, with their leadership proving vital in the last few games before the final – as well as the final itself.

During the 2021 season, history repeated itself. Halfway through the campaign, Chelsea underwent a managerial change – something that should have thrown the club into turmoil, only it ended up making them stronger than ever. 

Once again, it was the experienced players that pulled Chelsea through. With experience under their belt, legendary players like Thiago Silva, Marcos Alonso, and Romelu Lukaku rekindled their best form and took control of the campaign in the most concise way possible. No one expected them to win it. Especially with Manchester City putting in barnstorming performances in the semis and quarters. But it was belief in the core of older players – and the balance they had with the newbies – that saw them over the line.

What Do They Need to Get Right Now?

We’re not saying that Chelsea need to sack their manager in order to win the 2024/25 Champions League final. We’re also not saying that finals can be won solely by the older generation. The truth is that Chelsea had their backs to the wall in both the 2012 and 2021 campaigns, but had the leadership in their squad to put it to their advantage. 

Right now, that leadership seems to be missing. Either the older group of players are not pulling their weight in a leadership sense, or the managing team are not taking full advantage of their leadership capabilities. Either way, the formula to win a Champions League final is there for Chelsea. They just need to go back to those victories of the past and learn from them.

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