Sometimes they say that a team’s name is on the cup. If ever that were true, it was the case with Chelsea and the Champions League in 2012. Their progress and eventual victory in the competition defied all logic, but somehow they made it.
Having lost 3-1 to Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 match, Roman Abramovich sacked Andre Villas-Boas and replaced him with Roberto di Matteo. The Italian masterminded a 4-1 victory in the return leg before dispensing with Benfica to reach the semifinal against Barcelona.
Against the world’s greatest team, Chelsea somehow pulled off a 3-2 aggregate victory, in which Lionel Messi of all people missed a penalty and John Terry was sent off, leaving Chelsea to play with 10 men in the Camp Nou.
Di Matteo’s side would again ride their luck in the final. Having gone behind in the 83rd minute against Bayern Munich, Didier Drogba managed to grab an 88th-minute equaliser to send the game into extra time. Arjen Robben then missed a penalty and the chance to give Bayern the lead, before the game went to a penalty shootout that Chelsea won 4-3.
Having spent a fortune in an effort to turn Chelsea into the champions of Europe, Abramovich saw his dreams come true when it seemed the least likely.