In the last few decades, Chelsea Football Club has become a significant force in both the Premier League and the Champions League. The money pumped into the club by former owner Roman Abramovich helped the south west London club to move up a level and win the Premier League on four occasions.
However, a dominance of the English top-flight was not enough for the Blues. The team from south west London went on to win the Champions twice in nine years, between 2012 and 2021.
Our city, our stadium, our cup
In Chelsea’s first Champions League triumph in 2012 against Bayern Munich, the game was played at the Bavarians Allianz Arena. The Bayern fans held up a banner that read ‘Unsere Stadt, Unser Stadion, Unser Pokal‘ – our city, our stadium, our cup, as the teams walked out for the final.
Unfortunately for those Bayern fans, it may have been their city, their stadium, but it was Chelsea’s cup that year.
Triumph against Bayern Munich on their own turf
Chelsea claimed their first Champions League title in 2012. The Blues were underdogs as they went into the final against German giants Bayern Munich. The fact that the game was played at Bayern’s home, the Allianz Arena, made things even tougher for Roberto di Matteo’s team.
Bayern had the better of the game, but the first goal didn’t arrive until the 83rd minute, when Bayern forward Thomas Muller’s header looked to have won the game for the Bavarians. However, Chelsea was not finished yet, as star striker Didier Drogba scored a header of his own to level the scores up on 88 minutes and send the game into extra time.
The German giants had a glorious chance to win the game in extra time. Chelsea’s hero Drogba nearly became the villain when he brought Franck Ribery down in the penalty area. The Ivorian was let off the hook, though, as Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech produced a fine save from former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben’s spot-kick.
With 90 minutes and the 30 minutes of extra time unable to separate the teams, the contest then went to a penalty shootout. Bayern had already eliminated Real Madrid in the semi-finals via a penalty shootout and would have been confident of repeating the feat against the south west London team.
They were even more confident when Manuel Neuer saved Chelsea’s first spot-kick from Juan Mata. Philipp Lahm, Mario Gomez, David Luiz, Neuer and Frank Lampard scored from the spot before Cech saved Ivica Olic’s effort.
Ashley Cole’s effort levelled things up, and Cech parried Bastian Schweinsteiger’s effort onto the post. Didier Drogba stepped up and calmly fired past Neuer with his spot-kick to send the travelling Chelsea fans into raptures. They may have pushed their luck during the game at times, but everybody connected with the Blues didn’t care, as they were crowned European champions for the first time in their history.
Tuchel’s team topple favourites Manchester City
Nine years after their first triumph in the Champions League, Chelsea found themselves again in the competition final in 2021, facing fellow Premier League side Manchester City.
The Citizens, managed by managerial legend Pep Guardiola were clear favourites to lift the trophy and claim their maiden European Cup title. However, Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel, known for his tactical nous, outwitted the great Guardiola.
Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling saw an early break come to nothing before Chelsea started to get the better of the game.
In fact, Chelsea’s German striker Timo Werner missed two golden opportunities in the first 15 minutes of the game. City threatened through Phil Foden, but Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger produced a fine challenge to prevent the young attacking midfielder from opening the scoring.
Tuchel’s side still looked the more likely to break the deadlock, and the only goal of the game arrived three minutes before the break. Kai Havertz latched onto Mason Mount’s superb through ball, the attacker got there just before City goalkeeper Ederson who got a touch on the ball, only for it to land back at Havertz feet and the forward to roll into an empty net.
City pushed men forward in the second half and penned Chelsea into their own half for much of the last 20 minutes of the game. However, the Citizens struggled to forge any real clear-cut opportunities. The one they did create fell late on to winger Riyad Mahrez who put his effort wide of Edouard Mendy’s post.
Chelsea held on to the narrow lead to be crowned champions for the second time in their history. Incredibly, the win also meant that Thomas Tuchel had guided his team to three wins over City in less than six months with the Blues.
Other European successes
While Chelsea didn’t claim their first Champions League title until 2012, the Blues had previously already won other European trophies.
Their first European trophy came back in 1971 when the Blues recorded a 2-1 win over holders Real Madrid in the European Cup Winner’s Cup. They also won the same trophy in 1998.
Chelsea have also won the Europa League twice in 2013, the season after their Champions League triumph and in 2019, two years before the second time they were crowned European champions.
The team from south west London claimed the European Super Cup in 1998 and also 2021 while also claiming victory in the 2021 World Club Cup after a 2-1 extra-time win over Palmeiras.
Chelsea realistic challenger most seasons
Chelsea is one of the few teams in the English game that can realistically set their sights on challenging for every trophy, at home and abroad. The club’s old owners and new owners have invested big money into bringing quality players into the Blues squad.
With such staunch financial backing from the club’s hierarchy, then Chelsea’s third Champions League title may not be too far away.