So, another season of Champions League, where the English teams have failed to perform and once more a Spanish team, has emerged as Champions Of Europe.
As an English football fan, it was another slap in the face as no team from the Premier League managed to make it even to the Semi-Finals of the tournament. Coming from a time when at least 3 of the 4 teams in the Semi-final were covered by English teams (2006-07, 2007-08 & 2008-09), they are going through a sudden drought of European glory, but one team that still manages to consistently perform better than their counterparts in England is Chelsea.
Here, we closely analyse Chelsea’s chances of regaining European glory like the fateful night of 2012, in Munich.
Often, in the past Chelsea lacked a stable manager with a strong dressing room presence and personal relationship with the frequently interfering owner. In the Abramovich era there has been no better manager than the ‘Special One’, Jose Mourinho. After his earlier stint with Chelsea, the club saw the arrival (and quick departure) of many managers like Avram Grant, Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafa Benitez, but none of them could quite emulate the sheer dominance of the Mourinho era.
Mourinho’s shrewd tactics, microphone skills and his knack of backing his players even when they are being bamboozled by the media, makes him by far one of the best coaches to play under from a player’s perspective. With domestic titles in Portugal, Italy, Spain and England along with 2 European titles, Mourinho is exactly what Chelsea needs to conquer the Europe’s elite trophy and end this spell of Spanish dominance.
One of the most critical factors to a team’s success in Europe is squad depth, which is often demonstrated by the failure of many clubs to manage domestic form while competing in Europe (Eg. Everton). Injuries and suspensions are also a vital part of the game. In the modern game not only does the manager need to know his best XI and best formation but also needs his backup options ready in the event of a disaster.
This season when Diego Costa was injured Chelsea had someone like Loic Remy who contributed in the goal scoring department. The recent exploits of the under-21 players and loaned out players has guaranteed there is never a dearth of talent at the manager’s disposal for years to come. When a team sends players like Moses and Salah on loan, one can be assured that squad depth isn’t really an issue.
There has been a lot of talk regarding Eden Hazard being the next big thing in the footballing universe. Many experts have spoken of him in the same light as Ronaldo and Messi, but what separates him from the above 2 demigods is a Champions’ League title. Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United was the most determined, motivated and noticeable player on the pitch who almost single-handedly won Manchester United the Champions’ League with his blistering pace and sublime skills.
The same can be said of the Argentine magician from Barcelona, who is still instrumental in Barcelona’s success in Europe. Eden Hazard’s claim as the best in the world can only gain legitimacy when he does the same for Chelsea at the grandest stage of them all. Given his exploits this season his graph is sure to skyrocket next season.
For long, Chelsea have had the perfect ingredients for the recipe. They have a billionaire owner who is ready to spend big when required, ability to attract the best talents across the world, the right mix of experience and youth and a prospering youth academy, but they never found the right chef to bring the best out of these ingredients. Given their steady progress from a trophy-less club in 2014 to Champions of England in 2015, European glory seems a natural and realistic expectation in 2016.
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Edited By: Harshal Ahire