MUNICH, GERMANY - MAY 19: Didier Drogba of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during UEFA Champions League Final between FC Bayern Muenchen and Chelsea at the Fussball Arena München on May 19, 2012 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Chelsea Wins On Penalties

Chelsea win the European Cup after Didier Drogba stepped up and drained the winning penalty kick following a grueling 120 minutes on Saturday.

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Despondent Bastian Schweinsteiger Must Respond

Bastian Schweinsteiger failed on the biggest stage for Bayern Munich, but he must now regroup.


Didier Drogba's Work Is Done

Didier Drogba is likely to leave Chelsea this summer for an enormous contract and a slightly cushier situation. He closed out the hyper-competitive stage of his career in the best way possible.


Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Final Score, Didier Drogba Wins It For Chelsea

Chelsea played poorly for the majority of the UEFA Champions League final, but Bayern Munich have only themselves to blame for not winning the trophy in front of their home fans. The Bavarians were incredibly wasteful and could have scored five or six goals, but scored just one. Chelsea didn't have a lot of chances, but Didier Drogba converted their best one, an 88th-minute equalizer to force extra time. In fitting fashion, he was also the hero in penalty kicks, firing Chelsea to their first ever Champions League title on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

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The first half was littered with chances but Bayern's finishing was woeful. Müller, Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben all wasted golden chances, with Gomez's miss being the worst of the bunch. In the 42nd minute, he skinned Gary Cahill and had a clear shooting lane, but hit a terrible shot well over the bar.

In the second half, Bayern Munich picked up right where they left off with some great chances right out of the gate. In the 46th minute, Jose Bosingwa was beaten badly by Franck Ribery, who put a great ball across, but David Luiz made an excellent clearance. One minute later, Luiz found himself burned on a similar move down the left side, but this time Ashley Cole was the one who bailed out his team with a great block.

Ribery appeared to put Bayern ahead in the 53rd minute, but his goal was disallowed. Chelsea gave the ball away on an attack down their right and Bayern put together a fantastic counter. Arjen Robben teed himself up for a shot, which was blocked, but the deflection fell right to Ribery. He finished, but he was flagged for offside, and correctly. He was just a couple of inches off.

Cole was superb for Chelsea throughout the match and bailed them out on multiple occasions, but he was at fault for Bayern Munich's regulation goal. In the 83rd minute, Bastian Schweinsteiger drifted out to the left wing and put in a cross to the back post. Gomez's presence got Gary Cahill and Cole mixed up, allowing Müller to get free on the back post and nod the ball into the back of the net. It wasn't the best of finishes and Petr Cech could have made a save, but the ball went between his hands.

Based on the low volume of chances Chelsea created throughout the match, it was basically assumed to be over at this point, but they fought back in spectacular fashion. Chelsea won a corner in the 88th minute, and with their big bodies in the box, made the most of it. Juan Mata played a great delivery to the near post and Didier Drogba rose up above everyone, powering a header into the back of the net in emphatic fashion to improbably level the match at 1-1. Chelsea continued to surge forward in stoppage time, but couldn't find another goal and the two teams headed to stoppage time.

Because of the situation the teams were in late in regulation, both started extra time with odd lineups. Chelsea had brought on Florent Malouda and Fernando Torres for Ryan Bertrand and Salomon Kalou, leaving them shorthanded defensively. Bayern brought on Daniel Van Buyten for Thomas Müller, leaving them more defensive than they would have liked to start extra time.

Even with that less than ideal lineup, Bayern won a penalty right at the beginning of extra time. With Drogba stuck back on defense, he was caught reacting late on the edge of his own box and he brought down Franck Ribery. Robben stepped up to the spot, but hit a poor low shot right at Cech, and the Chelsea keeper saved easily.

Ribery was injured on the foul by Drogba and had to be replaced by the tireless Ivica Olic. From that point forward, the first period of extra time was a bit more relaxed, with neither team having any clear-cut goal scoring opportunities.

Olic and Van Buyten were almost the heroes in the 18th minute, but failed to make the most of a golden chance. Robben found Olic with a cross at the back post, and the Croatian completely lost Bosingwa. Posed with the option to cross or shoot, he chose to look for Van Buyten at the back post. His cross missed the post by a foot, and Van Buyten couldn't get on the end of it.

That was far and away the best chance of the second half of extra time, as both teams began to look exhausted in the closing minutes. There was plenty of attacking both ways, but none of it looked the least bit clinical. Shortly after the Olic chance, penalties looked nearly inevitable, and they came without either team scoring.

When Drogba scored the equalizer in stoppage time, it seemed like the eventual conclusion was almost fate. The penalty shootout was a dramatic one, and though it almost seemed lost for Chelsea at the beginning, there was no doubt what was going to happen when the final penalty taker stepped up.

Philipp Lahm scored the opening penalty for Bayern Munich, but Juan Mata missed the second. The next four takers all scored until Ivica Olic stepped up to the spot. He took a solid spot kick, but Cech guessed correctly and dove to make an amazing save, keeping Chelsea alive. Cole was up next and hit a brilliant penalty into the side netting, giving Neuer no chance to make a save and putting the pressure on.

Schweinsteiger stepped up and instead of picking a spot, decided to try to fool Cech with a stutter step. All he did was throw himself off. If he made his penalty, the referee might have made him take it again for stopping completely, but he hit the post. He was so emotional that he couldn't walk away from the penalty box by himself, and needed his teammates to help him away from the goal.

This gave Chelsea a chance to win with their next kick, and they had the perfect player stepping to the spot. The scorer of the equalizer, Didier Drogba, strolled up confidently. Even the biggest Bayern supporters in the building knew what was coming. Drogba, himself, knew what was coming. He didn't look bothered in the least. The Chelsea legend stepped up and confidently buried his spot kick, giving Chelsea their first ever Champions League title with possibly his last kick of the ball as a Chelsea player.

You can find our previous live coverage and updates from throughout the game in our 2012 UEFA Champions League Final StoryStream. For more on Bayern, head over to Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works. For more on the Blues, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History. For more on the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

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Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Game Heads to Penalties

Update: Chelsea defeat Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties, win UEFA Champions League final

Bayern and Chelsea couldn't settle things in the first 90 minutes. Despite a penalty chance for the Germans, they still couldn't settle things after 30 minutes of extra time. Now it's time for penalties. Gulp.

I personally hate penalties, whether I'm a fan or a neutral. They're cruel and evil and do nothing more than lead to blood pressure problems...but that's just me. No doubt hearts are beating like crazy, some fans likely cannot watch, the Champions League will be decided by one of the most exciting, excruciating and brutal creations that mankind has ever come up with. The only thing worse is of course the Thunderdome.

Penalty kicks will be updated in this post throughout, and we'll follow that up with a full match report. Stay tuned...

Philipp Lahm takes a penalty for Bayern and SCORES

Juan Mata takes a penalty for Chelsea and MISSES

Mario Gomez takes a penalty for Bayern and SCORES

David Luiz takes a penalty for Chelsea and SCORES

Manuel Neuer takes a penalty for Bayern and SCORES

Frank Lampard takes a penalty for Chelsea and SCORES

Ivica Olic takes a penalty for Bayern and MISSES

Ashley Cole takes a penalty for Chelsea and SCORES

Bastian Schweinsteiger takes a penalty for Bayern and MISSES

Didier Drogba takes a penalty for Chelsea and SCORES


We' ll have live coverage and updates throughout the game in our 2012 UEFA Champions League Final StoryStream. For more on Bayern, head over to Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works. For more on the Blues, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History. For more on the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.


Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Halftime Score, Bayern Dominate But Can't Score

Update: Chelsea defeat Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties, win UEFA Champions League final

Bayern Munich were far and away the better side for the first 35 minutes of the UEFA Champions League final, but they failed to convert on their chances and they have let Chelsea back into the match. The score is locked up at 0-0 after 45 minutes of play, and the Bavarians will be very disappointed that they allowed Chelsea to get into the locker room and regroup without going down a goal.

It took until well into the half for either team to create chances, but there was an event in the second minute that could eventually make a huge impact on the game. Bastian Schweinsteiger picked up a yellow card for an intentional handball in the middle of the pitch, and it probably altered his game slightly.

Chelsea's defense looked shaky throughout the first half but it took a while for them to look in real danger. In the 19th minute, Frank Lampard almost gifted Bayern a goal with an ill-advised back pass after Mario Gomez failed to control a ball in the box. Jose Bosingwa -- who is having a bit of a nightmare game -- struggled to control it right by his own goal and the ball went out for a corner, that luckily for Chelsea amounted to nothing.

Bayern had an excellent chance in the 21st minute, but were denied by Petr Cech and the woodwork. Robben easily plowed through the Chelsea defense, nutmegging Bosingwa, then hitting a low shot at goal from 10 yards. Cech got his leg to the ball, but didn't save it cleanly and deflected it up onto the post. Once again, the ball went out for a corner and Bayern made nothing of it.

The Bavarians had another great chance in the 35th minute, but failed to convert. Diego Contento set up Thomas Müller with a great cross from the endline, cut back to the penalty spot, but Müller missed his volley attempt wide. This is essentially a microcosm of his entire season.

Chelsea started to look much better at this point and started to find lames to pass forward. Their best chance of the half came in the 37th minute on the end of a great passing move. Juan Mata started it with a ball sprayed out wide to Frank Lampard, who found Didier Drogba on the edge of the box. Most would have expected the big striker to take a touch and turn towards goal, but instead he touched the ball into the path of an unmarked Solomon Kalou. He hit a decent shot to the near post, but Manuel Neuer saved.

The story of the first half was Bayern's dominance, but lack of finishing prowess, and Mario Gomez provided the best example of this in the 42nd minute. He turned Cahill around and had an open shooting lane at the edge of the penalty area, but inexplicably skied his shot over the crossbar.

Chelsea were poor in just about every way for the first 35 minutes of the first half. They had trouble getting the ball from Bayern, they defended poorly, and their decision making going forward was poor. Still, even though Bayern has looked like the better side, the man of the match at this point is probably John Obi Mikel. His positioning in defense has been much better than his teammates and his short passing has been excellent. Without his work in possession for Chelsea, Bayern probably create even more clear chances in the first half.

We'll have live coverage and updates throughout the game in our 2012 UEFA Champions League Final StoryStream. For more on Bayern, head over to Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works. For more on the Blues, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History. For more on the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.


Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Lineups

We knew both managers would be forced to make adjustments to their lineups today with the smorgasbord of suspensions affecting both side. John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles are all unavailable for Roberto Di Matteo, while Jupp Heynckes is missing David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luiz Gustavo.

Chelsea are boosted by the return of David Luiz and Gary Cahill, which should help cover for Terry's absence. Despite speculation that Fernando Torres might make an appearance in the midfield, Ryan Bertrand is starting out wide in place of Ramires. Bertrand? Yeah, I'm shaking my head too. Is this the decision that either makes Di Matteo look like a genius or potentially cost him the title and his job as well?

On paper, Bayern's missing players are likely to hurt them more than the Blues. Diego Contento is starting at fullback in place of Alaba, while Tymoschuk starts in the central defense but could move in to the defensive midfield should Kroos or Schweinsteiger struggle. Daniel van Buyten would likely sub in to the defense should an adjustment prove necessary.

Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; Diego Contento, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Jerome Boateng, Philipp Lahm; Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben; Mario Gomez.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Ashley Cole, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Jose Bosingwa; Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel; Ryan Bertrand, Juan Mata, Salomon Kalou; Didier Drogba.

We'll have updates throughout the week in our 2012 UEFA Champions League Final StoryStream. For more on Bayern, head over to Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works. For more on the Blues, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History. For more on the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.


Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Ryan Bertrand Expected To Start At Left Midfield

With their best defender and their best winger injured, Chelsea have to get creative with their lineup for the Champions League final. The absence of Ramires' defensive abilities on the wing was always going to be a problem for the Blues, but the magnitude of the problem is amplified by the absences of John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic in defense. Chelsea could use a defensive winger to help Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole defend against Bayern Munich's prolific wide players, and without Ramires, they don't have a natural one.

Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History explored the possibility of starting young left back Ryan Bertrand on the left wing, and it sounds like this is more than wild speculation. The young left back will get the starting nod on the left wing according to various sources, and We Ain't Got No History likes Roberto Di Matteo's bold attitude.

Starting Bertrand is a hugely gutsy call, and it might just play off. Jupp Heynckes doesn't have a reputation for being particularly bold, and if Chelsea are going to win this we'll have to rely on a brilliant performance from the players and some gambles from the manager. This, I think, is a step in the right direction.

We'll have updates throughout the week in our 2012 UEFA Champions League Final StoryStream. For more on Bayern, head over to Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works. For more on the Blues, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History. For more on the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.


Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Will The Boldest Manager Win?

We know the players that both Bayern Munich and Chelsea can field at the Allianz Arena for the Champions League final. The likes of Franck Ribery, Juan Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Didier Drogba are each going to be absolutely key to their teams. But the players aren't the only ones with an influence on how the match will play out - both sides' managers are going to have to answer some important questions. Get them wrong, and they're in trouble.

Phil Pierson over at SB Nation Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works is wondering whether Jupp Heynckes has enough courage to make the bold calls that might be necessary to win the European Cup (he's less worried about Roberto di Matteo for being too tentative, for obvious reasons). Could his risk-aversion lead to Heynckes making a major error? Will it be the most daring manager who wins the day?

[Both Heynckes and di Matteo] are going to have some huge decisions to make. Heynckes has to decide with Daniel van Buyten is fit enough to play; and if so, should he start over Tymoschuk; and if so, should Tymo move to CDM or hit the bench. Given his propensity to avoid bold, stunning moves, you'd guess bringing on van Buyten would be a little much for Heynckes. di Matteo, meanwhile, has to replace Ramires at RW (either Sturridge or Torres might get the call). He also has to sweat out fitness reports from Malouda, Cahill, and David Luiz - if any of them can't go, he might be called into making a big decision on Saturday morning.

In both cases, these managers are known more for being competent man-managers who get their talented line-ups on the field and just avoid any errors. But at some point, a failure to make a bold move when one is required can be an error as well. If this turns into a battle between two tentative guys trying to avoid mistakes, will the first one to making a daring move come up big?

That, or the most daring manager will do something silly and lose. I mean, it could go either way.


Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Game Time, TV Schedule, Live Updates And More

Chelsea and Bayern Munich kick off the Champions League final on Saturday afternoon from the Allianz Arena.


The Reign Of Bayern Munich

A win in Saturday's Champions League Final could kickstart a "Bayern Era" in Europe.


The Curious Terror Of Arjen Robben

As Chelsea prepare to take on Bayern Munich, they know that they will be facing one of the scariest players in world football.


Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: How Bayern Got Here

Bayern had to take a somewhat longer route to the final than their opponents this Saturday having entered in the final qualifying stage, where they took on Grasshopper Zurich.

The Germans didn't mess around with the Swiss side, beating them comfortably 3-0 on aggregate. Goals form Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben gave them a 2-0 home win, while in the return leg in Zurich, Mario Gomez' solitary goal was enough to see them move into the competition proper, and be drawn in what many people labelled the "group of death" with Manchester City, Villarreal and Napoli.

Things started well for Bayern in the group as they went to Spain to face Villarreal on the opening matchday, and came away with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Toni Kroos and Rafinha.

Next up for them was a home tie with Manchester City. Despite their dominance at home, City were actually the bottom seed in the group, proving just how much of a task it would be for Bayern to qualify. Mario Gomez put the Citizens to the sword with two goals late in the first half, sealing a 2-0 victory to cap a dominant display.

Things veered slightly off course when Bayern visited the San Paolo to face Napoli on matchday three. Toni Kroos gave the visitors the lead after just 2 minutes, however Christian Maggio's cross was turned into the net by Holger Badstuber. Including league form, this was the first goal Bayern had conceded in over 1100 minutes play. The game ended 1-1 after Mario Gomez saw a second half penalty saved by Morgan De Sanctis.

In Novembers return game between the two, Gomez atoned for his penalty miss by hitting a hattrick against the Italians in a 3-2 win at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern were at home again on matchday five where they faced Villarreal, who at this stage were already down and out of the tournament, without any points to their name. The Bavarian side took care of them comfortably with a 3-1 win, Franck Ribery bagging two goals, with goalscoring-machine Mario Gomez nabbing the other.

With qualification and first place in Group A sealed, Bayern travelled to Manchester to take on City again. Coach Jupp Heynckes made seven changes from the club's previous league outing, and the second XI were beaten comfortably 2-0 by City in what was the club's only group stage defeat.

After conquering what was the toughest group in the tournament with relative ease, Bayern set up knockout stage game with FC Basel, which on paper sounds a relatively easy task, but the Swiss side had got out of their group against the odds, and taken four points from Manchester United to send them out of the competition.

Bayern were shocked by Valentin Stocker's 86th minute goal after the German side hit the woodwork twice earlier in the game, leaving them with work to do in the return game a month later.

Bayern came back from the one goal deficit in devastating fashion, thumping Basel 7-0 at the Allianz Arena. Arjen Robben opened the scoring after just 11 minutes, followed by Thomas Muller doubling the lead shortly before half time. Mario Gomez added to his incredible haul in Europe this season by adding four unanswered goals in 23 minutes either side of half time, while Robben added a seventh as the game drew to a close.

This set up a quarterfinal with Marseille. It's noted that French sides tend to panic once they reach the latter stages of the competition, and Bayern certainly didn't have too much problem with them, beating them 2-0 in both legs for a 4-0 aggregate win, but a tougher test was in store for Bayern in the semifinals, where Real Madrid lay in wait.

Bayern enjoyed the better of the first half of the first leg, capped by Franck Ribery's opening goal. The visiting side however grew in confidence in the second period, and equalized when Mesut Ozil, on his return to German soil, turned in Cristiano Ronaldo's low cross. The Germans would enjoy the last laugh however when in the dying moments of the game, Mario Gomez grabbed the winner, turning in a Philipp Lahm cross, and edging the side closer to a home final.

At the Bernabeu though, all the good work of the first leg seemed to be undone when a double from Cristiano Ronaldo inside the opening 15 minutes game Madrid a 3-2 aggregate lead, but after half an hour, things were level on aggregate when Arjen Robben converted a penalty.

An end to end encounter couldn't be won by either side following another hour and half football, leaving it down to the lottery of a penalty shootout.

Manuel Neuer was the hero of the hour, making incredible saves from Ronaldo and Kaka while David Alaba and Mario Gomez both scored for Bayern. Just when it seemed they were in control, Iker Casillas denied Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm to set up a tense sudden-death decider. Spanish international defender Sergio Ramos blazed over the bar, while Bastian Schweinsteiger slammed past Casillas to send Bayern back home to Munich elated, and looking forward to a potential Champions League win in their own stadium.

Much like their opponents though, they will be without a few players in the final as David Alaba, Luiz Gustavo and Holger Badstuber all picked up crucial second bookings in the competition, but they'll be hoping that doesn't stop them claiming their first European title since 2001.

We'll have updates throughout the week in our 2012 UEFA Champions League Final StoryStream. For more on Bayern, head over to Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works. For more on the Blues, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History. For more on the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.


Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: How Chelsea Got Here

Chelsea may have entered the competition at the group stage, and as a top seed in Group E, but by no means were The Blues considered legitimate challengers for European football's biggest trophy.

Andre Villas-Boas' side (as it was then) were given what looked a tough group despite the lack of ‘big' names which they managed to top with 11 points, ahead of Bayer Leverkusen who finished on 10 points, as well as Valencia (8 points) and Genk (3 points).

The opening match day was a good one for Chelsea as they came up against Bayer Leverkusen at Stamford Bridge, turning the German side over 2-0 thanks to a second half goal from David Luiz, while Juan Mata killed things off in the dying moments.

Matchday two saw Chelsea travel to Valencia. A game which on paper looked incredibly tough given the Blues' stuttering league form at the time, however Frank Lampard's 56th minute strike gave them an unlikely lead. From then on it was very much a case of backs to the walls for them, and it looked as though they might have just got away with it until 87th minute when Salomon Kalou gave away a penalty which Roberto Soldado despatched with ease.

A home tie with Genk on matchday three was the perfect tonic for their previous heartbreaking outing in the competition, and the Blues dominated Genk for the full 90 minutes, coming away with a comfortable 5-0 victory. Raul Meireles opened the scoring after just eight minutes before Fernando Torres, at the time serving a domestic suspension, grabbed the first of his two goals on the night three minutes later. Branislav Ivanovic and Salomon Kalou also chipped in with strikes on a memorable night for the club.

Perhaps there was a touch of over confidence and expectancy when they travelled to Genk for the return leg a month later, where they could only manage a 1-1 draw, leaving Group E wide open. Raul Meireles opened the scoring with a thunderous drive off the underside of the crossbar, and comforting second goal was almost Chelsea's however David Luiz has his penalty saved by Laszlo Koteles. The miss would prove costly as Jelle Vossen out muscled Ashely Cole to force home an equalizing goal.

In matchday five, The Blues tasted defeat for the first time in the competition as they continued to underperform away from home, when they took on Bayer Leverkusen. Despite Dider Drogba giving them the lead shortly after half time, a second half equalizer from Eren Derdiyok and a late, late winner from Manuel Freidrich saw the Germans claim the points, and move to the top of the Group E table.

On the final matchday, Chelsea needed to beat Valencia and hope Leverkusen dropped points to top the group, and they stuck to their side of the bargain by beating the Spanish side 3-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to a double from Didier Drogba and one from Ramires. Meanwhile in Belgium, Genk made things difficult for Leverkusen, and a 1-1 draw between the two sides saw Chelsea top the group, but a difficult tie with Napoli was now on the cards for them.

With pressure mounting on Andre Villas-Boas by the minute, his team selection at the San Paulo was deemed by many to be effectively his own resignation letter as John Terry missed out entirely, while Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard were among the senior names relegated to the bench.

This risky move spectacularly back-fired as the Londoners were downed 3-1 by the Italian side, with Ezequiel Lavezzi grabbing two goals and Edinson Cavani adding another late on to cancel out Juan Mata's opening goal.

By the time the difficult looking return leg came around, Villas-Boas had been replaced by assistant Roberto Di Matteo. The new man in charge didn't make the same mistake as his predecessor and brought in all the familiar names who had served Chelsea so well in previous years, and it paid off as they triumphed in extra time.

Having clawed back the two goals needed to tie things up, and indeed hold an away goals lead in the tie, the home crowd were stunned when Gokhan Inler's spectacular drive handed Napoli the advantage. With 15 minutes remaining though, the home side were given a lifeline when Andrea Dossena handled in the area. Frank Lampard stepped up and ensured we'd get another 30 minutes of what was a pulsating game, during which Branislav Ivanovic was the unlikely hero when he slammed the ball home from Dider Drogba's cross in the 105th minute.

This set up a quarterfinal tie with Benfica, who Chelsea made relatively light work of, winning 1-0 at the Estadio Da Luz, thanks to Salomon Kalou's late strike. In the return leg, Frank Lampard's penalty and Raul Meireles's superb 93rd minute strike made Javi Garcia's 85th minute goal for the Portuguese side on the night inconsequential.

Next however stood Chelsea's biggest test of the season so far, a semi-final clash with an all conquering Barcelona side.

The home tie was one that will live long in the memory of Blues fans who were at Stamford Bridge to see Dider Drogba give his side a 1-0 advantage to take to Camp Nou two weeks later, although it wasn't all plain sailing for Chelsea who coupled some steely defensive work with a little bit of luck as Alexis Sanchez and Pedro both struck the post for the visitors.

In the return leg, all they had to do was hold on for 90 minutes, and as they gained a 2-2 draw on the night to send them to Munich this weekend, there were long periods where it looked like they'd crash out of the tournament at the penultimate hurdle.

Things started badly when in a matter of minutes Sergio Busquets has cancelled out the first leg advantage, and Chelsea had gone a man down after John Terry needlessly and foolishly kicked Alexis Sanchez off the ball.

The uphill battle became an up-mountain battle when Andres Iniesta doubled the home side's lead giving them a 2-1 advantage on aggregate, but joy was short lived for the Catalans as Ramires scored one of the goals of the tournament to give Chelsea a priceless away goal. Having latched on to a perfectly weighted ball, the Brazilian showed some outrageous skill to lob deftly over the advancing Victor Valdes from just inside the area.

With only 45 minutes standing between Chelsea and a trip to Munich, Barcelona threw everything at them, abandoning all defensive work and pinning Chelsea into their own area. For long periods it looked as though they'd kept the door firmly shut, but the Blues shot themselves in the foot when they handed Lionel Messi the opportunity to equalize from the penalty spot.

The world's greatest player fluffed his lines and sent it high over the crossbar.

Invigorated by this, the energy levels raised and on the counter attack, substitute Fernando Torres wiped out any jokes about his £50m transfer fee by latching on to a clearance, out pacing what remained of the Barcelona defence, rounded Valdes and sent Chelsea fans around the world delirious with virtually the final kick of the game.

The win came at a cost though. Aside from John Terry's sending off meaning he misses this Saturday's showpiece, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles all picked up bookings which mean they'll be missing.

All that however will be forgotten and forgiven if the Blues lift the Champions League trophy for the first time in their history this Sunday. Having overcome huge odds to actually make it this far, there's a very distinct possibility that this could be their moment.

We'll have updates throughout the week in our 2012 UEFA Champions League Final StoryStream. For more on Bayern, head over to Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works. For more on the Blues, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History. For more on the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.


Chelsea Vs. Bayern Munich: England Vs. Germany?

Chelsea lack youth, have experience; Bayern manage both. Just like England and Germany.


Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Suspensions Change Both Teams' Tactics

Bayern Munich are without Luis Gustavo, meaning Toni Kroos will need to up his game in the center of midfield. Chelsea are missing some big pieces too, and need to account for the losses of John Terry and Ramires.


Saturday Is About More Than Just A Trophy For Chelsea

Just how much will Chelsea's future success in the transfer market be affected by Saturday's final?


Bayern Munich Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Don't Worry Too Much About Bayern's Defense

The UEFA Champions League final is on Saturday in Munich, and both teams have some defensive trouble. Bayern Munich have lost two starting players from their defensive line as well as deep-lying midfielder Luiz Gustavo, all thanks to yellow card accumulation. Considering that they got slaughtered 5-2 by Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final last weekend with a full-strength side, having to play Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Diego Contente in a must-win game sounds decidedly unpleasant.

Fear not, however, Bayern fans! As Phil Pierson, lead writer at SB Nation Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works says, all is not lost. The Bundesliga runners-up have several key points to lean on ahead of the final:

So, given [our defensive problems and Chelsea's attack], we'd expect Bayern to get sliced open and give up chances and goals all day, right? Not exactly. Despite the above factors indicating danger on the defensive end, I think there are four equally important factors that will leave our defense in better shape than some people are giving us credit for:

  1. Boateng and Lahm still form a very tough barrier on the right side of our defense
  2. The loss of Ramires really hurts Chelsea
  3. We can expect our midfield and offense to take some of the pressure off
  4. Neuer will be there to back everything up

With Chelsea's problems, there's no reason Bayern should be particularly worried ahead of Saturday's match. Sure, the situation's not exactly ideal, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that the hosts will be able to keep the Blues at bay.

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