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Chelsea vs. Benfica: Who Says Chelsea Have No History?

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2013

Chelsea players celebrate their Europa League victory on Wednesday.
Chelsea players celebrate their Europa League victory on Wednesday.Scott Heavey/Getty Images

You can knock them down, but as seems to be the case, Chelsea always get back up and return even stronger.

On a dramatic evening in Amsterdam on Wednesday, the Blues lifted the Europa League trophy with a 2-1 victory over Benfica and in so doing, became just the fourth club in history to take a European Grand Slam.

It was a victory that came on the back of a season defined by managerial dismissals, fans protesting and a team failing to live up to its billing at various stages of the campaign.

Yet to their credit, they stuck with it, battled through and Chelsea now join Juventus, Bayern Munich and Ajax—whose stadium coincidentally staged the Europa League final—in winning the European Cup Winners' Cup, Super Cup, UEFA Cup/Europa League and European Cup/Champions League.

For those claiming Chelsea have little history, surely that stat alone puts the claim to bed once and for all.

It's going to take a mammoth effort for the Blues to ever match Liverpool's 18 league titles, not to mention the 20th Manchester United have claimed this season. But it's not impossible. With the Cup Winners' Cup—a trophy Liverpool never lifted—now laid to rest in UEFA's proud annals, Chelsea can rest safe in the knowledge that their unique record will only ever be matched by a select few.

It's a record the club will rightly be proud of, yet Wednesday's victory holds far more significance. Not only did Rafa Benitez's side complete their unique Grand Slam, they also became the first club ever to hold the Champions League and Europa League trophies simultaneously.

Admittedly, in 10 days time, the Champions League will be handed over to Germany as Borussia Dortmund and Bayern battle it out for European supremacy at Wembley on May 25. Nonetheless, for the next week or so, Chelsea really are the Kings of Europe.

Slipping into the Europa League after a poor showing in the Champions League group stages was billed as a travesty for the Blues. They were reigning European champions and they had just resided over one of the most feeble defences of the title in history.

But lifting Europe's No. 2 crown is a victory that will live long in the club's history. Amsterdam may not reflect the scenes we all saw in Munich, yet in a decade or more, Fernando Torres' wonderful solo effort and Branislav Ivanovic's injury-time winner will be remembered just as fondly.

It seemed history was being made all around on Wednesday, too. Chelsea were competing in their 16th final in 16 years—their 10th since Roman Abramovich took charge in 2003—while Fernando Torres became the first player in history to win the World Cup, European Championship, Champions League and Europa League.

Chelsea fans often like to point out that, while their rivals are busy living off their history, the Blues are very much making it. After Wednesday's success, perhaps they have a point.

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