Chelsea's Never-Ending Quest For The Champions League Trophy.. A Curse?
On Tuesday the 22nd February, Chelsea take on Copenhagen in the knock-out stages, as Europe's elite competition once again resumes.
In recent seasons, Chelsea have seen frustratingly huge success in Europe.
In 2009, Chelsea became the highest ranked club under UEFA's five-year coefficient system used in the seeding of European club competitions in the following season, the first English club to do so in the 21st century.
Despite the loosely-termed 'success', Chelsea have never been able to get their hands on that ever-elusive Champions League trophy.
A lot of could-have-beens and should-have-beens, means Chelsea fans are still waiting.
Although, an appearance in the tournament in '99 where Chelsea were knocked out by Barcelona-the quest seriously gathered pace in 2004.
Chelsea pipped Liverpool to the last Champions League spot by beating them in the last game of the season. The match was billed as "the £25m match," as that was the prize for reaching the Champions League.
Those £25m didn't matter so much, when during the summer a certain Roman Abramovic bought the club and began bankrolling huge transfers.
In a tournament full of surprises, Chelsea reached the semifinals only to be sent home packing by eventual losing finalists Monaco.
The following season, Chelsea again qualified for the tournament by finishing second the domestic league. They again reached the semifinals, knocking out Barcelona on the way. Chelsea's progress was eventually halted by Liverpool.
However, Chelsea finished that season as English champions.
The next season provided new hopes.
Defending English champions, most felt this was Chelsea's season. This was the season Chelsea would showcase that money could indeed buy success, unfortunately, in what was beginning to become a habit, they were once again eliminated, this time by Barcelona at the Quarterfinal stage.
However, the pain didn't last long, as Chelsea became English champions for the second season running. Another season came and went, with Chelsea once again failing in Europe. Liverpool sent Chelsea home via a penalty shoot-out at the semifinal stage.
Many were starting to question if it were ever going to happen. Those questions grew louder when Manchester United held Chelsea off to become English champions.
Was Chelsea's dominance over?
Chelsea came in for some heavy criticism but were adamant to silence their critics and by pure determination, they reached the semifinal stage yet again and Liverpool were the opposition, yet again!
Chelsea defied the odds and eliminated Liverpool to finally reach the Champions League final. It was a dream come true for the players and fans. There was a certain feeling of inevitability about the match. It felt like it was our time.
Manchester United were the opponents and they had other ideas, as they won the final via a penalty shoot-out.
Chelsea fans were heartbroken once again.
Chelsea though, showed their resilience by reaching the semifinals once again, the following season.
Barcelona stood in their way once again. The two clubs have become somewhat familiar with each other. Before the semifinals were played, there had been eight meetings between them in recent memory.
A dramatic late strike from Andres Iniesta saw Barcelona snatch a 1-1 draw with Chelsea and a place in the final.
The away goal rule came into effect as the two legs both ended in draws.
Chelsea were once again cruelly eliminated.
0-0 in Barcelona and 1-1 in London meant, Barcelona marched onto the final and once again, Chelsea and their fans were left heartbroken.
Last season, they were eliminated by eventual European champions Inter Milan.
Another season, another Chelsea failure and another European heartbreak.
They have gone out in past seasons to extraordinary bad luck, bad refereeing decisions—the lot. But never before have I seen Chelsea so comprehensively beaten.
Chelsea went out with a whimper.
Questions are now being asked again. Is it ever going to happen for Chelsea?
They have reached the semifinal five times in the last seven seasons and only once reaching the final—a shocking stat.
As the saying goes; where there is a will, there is a way.
Chelsea will go into this seasons knock-out phase, with hopes of doing the seemingly impossible.
If recent history is anything to go by, Chelsea is the one team that deserves to finally win that Champions League trophy.
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