‘I Was So Discouraged,’ Drogba Recalls Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League Triumph

File photo of Didier Drogba

 

Exactly eight years after winning the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea, Ivory Coast legend, Didier Drogba has narrated his experience during the final of the competition.

Chelsea’s 2011/2012 campaign was almost in shambles after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked midway into the season in March 2012.

A resurgent Blues, however, overturned a 4-1 first leg quarter-final deficit against Napoli, before defeating competition-favourite, Barcelona to pitch them with Bayern Munich in the final of Europe’s elite club championship.

In the final played at Bayern’s Allianz Arena, the German side, expectedly, enjoyed a lion’s share of possession and were rewarded with a goal by Thomas Muller in the 83rd minute.

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While recalling the Champions League win on May 19 2012, Drogba said in a post on his official Instagram handle that he had given up after the Bavarians netted their goal.

Even though the situation on the pitch that night looked gloomy, teammate, Juan Mata was still optimistic, the Ivorian legend narrated.

According to Drogba, Mata told him he had “to believe” his side can turn the game around.

The former Galatasaray star was to later grab Chelsea’s equaliser and forced the game into extra time after heading home a corner from Mata. And in what many Blues’ fans describe as the London side’s most glorious moment, Drogba scored the winning penalty in the shootout to hand Roberto Di Mateo’s men the trophy.

“Eight years ago,” Drogba began in his post, “the manager had been sacked by the club and we, the players, had a team meeting where we recognised being partly responsible for his departure.

“The captain John Terry spoke, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and other leaders in the group too.

“We decided to all give this competition everything, despite our 4-1 defeat against Napoli. We had been chasing this trophy for eight years and couldn’t do better than the runner-up. Everyone agreed to put egos aside and challenge each other for the same goal.

“After that meeting, I asked a young 23-year-old Juan Mata, ‘Please Maestro, help me win the Champions League.’ ‘He looked at me like, ‘Man you’re crazy, you’re Didier Drogba you are gonna help me win it!’

“I then told him, ‘I’ve been here for eight years and never won it, so I believe you’re the one who is gonna help us win. I’ll even give you a present if we win it.’ That was the end of February.”

Narrating further, he said: “Three months later, we were in Munich, in the final, in their stadium, submerged with a red wave. The hosts took the lead with eight minutes to go and on my way to kick the ball for the last eight minutes I was so discouraged, the young man said to me, ‘Believe Didi, you have to believe.’

“Almost in tears, I answered after looking at the time score, ‘Believe in what? It’s almost over.’ I was gonna cry like a few months ago when I lost the final with the Ivory Coast.”

“Last minute, last corner, I mean the first corner for us against eighteen for Bayern Munich. Guess who took that corner kick… Juan Mata. And the rest is history. The lesson is ALWAYS BELIEVE!”

 

See Drogba’s post below:

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I bet you’ve all seen videos of the @championsleague final so I just wanted to tell you a little story of mine months before winning this trophy Eight years ago, the Manager had been sacked by the club and we, the players had a team meeting where we recognised being partly responsible for his departure. The captain @johnterry spoke, @franklampard @petrcech and other leaders in the group too. We decided to all give this competition everything, despite our defeat 4-1 against Napoli. We had been chasing this trophy for eight years and couldn’t do better than runner up. Everyone agreed to put egos aside and challenge each over for the same goal. After that meeting I asked a young 23 years old @juanmatagarcia “please Maestro, help me win the champions league “ he looked at me like “man you’re crazy, you’re Didier Drogba you are gonna help me win it, I then told him I’ve been here for 8 years and never won it so I believe you’re the one who’s gonna help us win. I’ll even give you a present if we win it, that was end of February. Three months later, we were in Munich, in the final, in their stadium, submerged with a red wave. The hosts took the lead with 8 minutes to go and on my way to kick the ball for the last 8 minutes I was so discouraged, the young man said to me “believe Didi, you have to believe” , almost in tears I answered after looking at the time score “believe in what? It’s almost over, I’m gonna cry like a few months ago when I lost the final with Côte d’Ivoire. Last minute, last corner, I mean first corner for us against eighteen for Bayern Munich. Guess who took that corner kick… @juanmatagarcia and the rest is history. The lesson is ALWAYS BELIEVE !!!! @chelseafc Happy 8th Birthday to US. 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙 #theprideoflondon #ktbffh #munich2012

A post shared by didierdrogba (@didierdrogba) on

Liverpool Vs Atletico Madrid Preview: Team News, Possible Lineups, Match Time

Liverpool vs atletico madrid champions league preview
File Photo: Atletico Madrid’s Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey (R) vies with Liverpool’s English midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the UEFA Champions League, round of 16, first leg football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Liverpool FC at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on February 18, 2020. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Liverpool will be up against Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 tie on Wednesday.

A goal in the fourth minute boosted the chances of Diego Simeone’s men, who won 1-0, in the first leg of the encounter, at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on February 18, 2020.

Although Liverpool are highly-fancied to overturn the deficit when they welcome the Spanish side, the Reds coach, Jurgen Klopp, admitted that it would not be an easy task.

Defensively Compact Atletico 

Speaking in a pre-match press conference ahead of the showdown at the Anfied, the German gaffer said Simeone’s men are a defensively compact side.

“Atletico defends you for the next six months without a rest,” the former Dortmund coach admitted.

Klopp, however, said his men would find a way to break the resilient Atleti side, adding that they will play a free-flowing football on Wednesday night.

He said his side needs to be “nearly perfect” to come out with a result against Atletico Madrid.

A History Of Comebacks

For Simeone, a one-goal advantage is not enough for his team going into the second leg tie, admitting that Liverpool have a history of comebacks.

In 2005, the Merseyside came from 3-0 goals down against AC Milan to lift the Champions League trophy.

Last season, they overturned a 3-0 first leg deficit against Barcelona, to reach the final of the Champions League.

And the Argentine coach agrees that a team with such history of “great comebacks”  have lots of ways to hurt their opponents.

“They have had some historic results here [Anfield], turning matches around, great comebacks,” Simeone said in a pre-match press conference as quoted on the Liverpool website.

Liverpool Vs Atletico Madrid Team News

The English Premier League leaders have some cheering news ahead of the encounter with Atletico.

Club skipper, Jordan Henderson, is fit for the game after he got a hamstring injury in the reverse fixture in Spain.

Also, Andy Robertson, is available for selection after he missed out in the team’s victory over Bournemouth on Saturday in the domestic league.

But the 2004/2005 Champions League winners will play without Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker for the tie.

For Atletico, some of their players will be free for selection for the visit to the Anfied.

Hector Herrera, Kieran Trippier, Thomas Lemar, and Joao Felix who all missed out on the first leg of the fixture are back in the team.

Alvaro Morata is still a major doubt for the match but his fitness would be assessed ahead of the encounter.

Liverpool Vs Atletico Madrid Possible Lineup

Liverpool: Adrián; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané

Altetico Madrid: Oblak; Trippier, Savić, Felipe, Renan Lodi; Saúl Ñíguez, Partey, Koke, Vitolo; João Félix, Correa

Liverpool Vs Atletico Champions League Fixture Time

The Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid second leg Round of 16 Champions League encounter will start from 09:00 pm (WAT/Nigeria time).

Ajax’s Fairytale Champions League Run End After Valencia Defeat

Ajax’ Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana (3rdR) and teammates react after valencia scored the opener during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Valencia CF at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on December 10, 2019.
Maurice van STEEN / ANP / AFP

 

Ajax’s hopes of another fairytale run in the Champions League were dashed on Tuesday as a 1-0 defeat at home to Valencia sent them crashing out and the Spaniards through to the last 16. 

Rodrigo Moreno’s 24th-minute strike proved the winner at the Johan Cruyff Arena and enough to flip the top three in Group H, with Valencia advancing in first place along with Chelsea, who beat bottom club Lille 2-1.

Ajax were arguably the story of the competition last season when their youthful team went all the way to the semi-finals but there will be no repeat this year.

Gabriel Paulista was sent off in injury-time but even against 10 men, they could not find the equaliser they needed.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Edge Past Lille, Qualify For Champions League Last 16

Instead, Valencia not only progress but have earned themselves the best chance of a kind draw when the knock-out stage is decided in Nyon on December 16.

It seemed unlikely after they missed a series of golden opportunities to beat Chelsea earlier this month but a 2-2 draw still left them with a chance, even if the odds were not in their favour.

They knew they either had to beat Ajax, against whom they had lost 3-0 at home in October, or at least match the result of Chelsea, who always seemed likely to win against Lille at Stamford Bridge.

Ajax, meanwhile, began the night two points clear at the top of the group and needed only a draw to go through.

Valencia coach Albert Celades, who made his La Liga debut as a player under Cruyff, was now in the dugout of the stadium named after the iconic Dutchman and this will be a major boost for his side, who are eighth in La Liga after a rocky start to the season on and off the pitch.

Ajax sit three points clear at the top of the Eredivisie but last year’s heroics in the Champions League, and their heartbreaking defeat to Tottenham, meant they had European ambitions too.

Rodrigo headed wide from a corner early on but after a frantic start, the game settled, with Ajax dominating possession and Valencia trying to counter-attack.

Against the run of play, Valencia took the lead as Rodrigo’s bending run in behind was picked out by a Ferran Torres pass. Rodrigo controlled with his left and fired the ball with his right into the roof of the net.

Ajax had to wait until the end of the half for their best chance as Donny van de Beek latched onto Hakim Ziyech’s pass and lifted the ball over Jaume Domenech, only for Jose Gaya to make a brilliant clearance off the line.

Rodrigo might have made it two at the other end but it was Ajax that were pushing for an equaliser after the restart as Valencia retreated.

Ziyech should have levelled but fluffed his finish at the near post before 20-year-old Noa Lang hooked over from inside the box.

Lille pulled a goal back away at Chelsea to give Ajax further hope and they were almost gifted an equaliser by Valencia’s Daniel Wass, who chesting the ball away from his own goalkeeper.

Ziyech went close with a shot towards the near post and, three minutes into injury-time, Gabriel was sent off for thrusting his head into Dusan Tadic.

It left Valencia to defend two minutes, and a corner, with 10 men but Ajax could not find a way through.

AFP

Valencia Delay Chelsea’s Last 16 Spot After Thrilling Draw

Chelsea’s Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi (C) vies with Valencia’s Spanish defender Jose Luis Gaya Pena (L) and Valencia’s Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista (R) during the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Valencia CF and Chelsea FC at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on November 27, 2019.
JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Daniel Wass’s late equaliser denied Chelsea a place in the last 16 of the Champions League as a profligate Valencia fought back for a 2-2 draw that maintains both sides’ chances of reaching the knockout stages.

A wide-open game swung the visitors’ way after Carles Soler’s opener for Valencia as Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic put Chelsea in pole position to avenge their 1-0 defeat on home soil to the Spaniards on matchday one.

However, after Kepa Arrizabalaga had saved Dani Parejo’s penalty, Wass’s cross flummoxed the Spanish international to give Valencia a lifeline.

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Both sides are tied on eight points at the top of Group H but could be overtaken by Ajax who travel to Lille later on Wednesday.

Victory at home to Lille in two weeks’ time will ensure Frank Lampard’s men make the last 16 and they were thankful for five huge misses from the hosts to escape with a point on a night that could also prove costly as top-scorer Tammy Abraham was stretchered off at half-time.

Maxi Gomez was the principal villain for Valencia as the Uruguayan twice failed to find the net with the goal at his mercy in the first half.

When Valencia did finally break the deadlock there was a hint of fortune in the finish as the ball ricocheted off Soler’s legs, but had enough power to beat Kepa.

Defeat would have left Lampard’s men on the brink of elimination, but they responded immediately after falling behind as Kovacic produced his first goal for the club at the perfect time with a fine low strike.

The Croatian should have had a second moments later after brilliant work by Pulisic but pulled his shot too close to Jasper Cillessen’s near post and the Dutch ‘keeper saved.

Abraham was then left wincing in pain and holding his left hip as he was trampled on inside the area and eventually had to be stretchered down the tunnel after both sides had already made their way to the dressing room at half-time.

Despite the loss of their key marksman, Chelsea took the lead five minutes into the second period when Pulisic kept up his fine scoring form by prodding home Kurt Zouma’s knockdown.

Following a lengthy VAR check for offside, the goal was given, but Valencia were furious there was not a check for a potential foul by Zouma in the build-up.

The hosts still only had themselves to blame for not getting all three points as Rodrigo chipped over with the goal gaping after Kepa scampered from his goal to clear and was caught in no man’s land.

Kepa made amends 25 minutes from time with a brilliant save from Parejo’s penalty after Jorginho was harshly penalised for a foul on Jose Luis Gaya.

The drama did not end there, though, as Wass’s overhit cross smashed off the far post and into the Chelsea net eight minutes from time.

And Valencia should have gone onto win it as in seven minutes of stoppage time Rodrigo curled wide before somehow prodding wide from Gaya’s cross with the whole goal to aim at.

AFP

UEFA Champions League Results – Collated

 

UEFA Champions League results on Wednesday:

Group E

At Genk, Belgium

Genk (BEL) 0 Napoli (ITA) 0

At Liverpool, England

Liverpool (ENG) 4 (Mane 9, Robertson 25, Salah 36, 69) Red Bull Salzburg (AUT) 3 (Hwang Hee-Chan 39, Minamino 56, Haaland 60)

Group F

At Prague

Slavia Prague (CZE) 0 Borussia Dortmund (GER) 2 (Hakimi 35, 89)

At Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona (ESP) 2 (Suarez 58, 84) Inter Milan (ITA) 1 (Martinez 2)

Group G

At Leipzig, Germany

RB Leipzig (GER) 0 Lyon (FRA) 2 (Depay 11, Terrier 65)

At Saint Petersburg, Russia

Zenit Saint Petersburg (RUS) 3 (Dzyuba 21, Dias 70-og, Azmoun 78) Benfica (POR) 1 (De Tomas 85)

Group H

At Lille, France

Lille (FRA) 1 (Osimhen 33) Chelsea (ENG) 2 (Abraham 22, Willian 78)

At Valencia, Spain

Valencia (ESP) 0 Ajax (NED) 3 (Ziyech 8, Promes 34, van de Beek 67)

Played Tuesday

Group A

At Madrid

Real Madrid (ESP) 2 (Ramos 55, Casemiro 85) Club Brugge (BEL) 2 (Dennis 9, 39)

At Istanbul, Turkey

Galatasaray (TUR) 0 Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) 1 (Icardi 52)

Group B

At Belgrade

Red Star Belgrade (SRB) 3 (Vulic 63, Milunovic 87, Boakye 90) Olympiakos (GRE) 1 (Semedo 37)

At London

Tottenham (ENG) 2 (Son 12, Kane 61-pen) Bayern Munich (GER) 7 (Kimmich 15, Lewandowski 45, 87, Gnabry 53, 55, 83, 88)

Group C

At Milan, Italy

Atalanta (ITA) 1 (Zapata 28) Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) 2 (Moraes 41, Solomon 90+5)

At Manchester, England

Manchester City (ENG) 2 (Sterling 66, Foden 90+5) Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 0

Group D

At Turin, Italy

Juventus (ITA) 3 (Higuain 17, Bernardeschi 62, Ronaldo 89) Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 0

At Moscow

Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS) 0 Atletico Madrid (ESP) 2 (Felix 48, Partey 58).

Champions League: Simeone Expects Tough Game Against Madrid

Diego Simeone, Atletico, RostavAtletico Madrid coach, Diego Simeone says he expects a neck-and-neck game and hopes to take advantage of the spaces that Real Madrid concede when they visit the Santiago Bernabeu for the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

Simeone said the away-goal rule should be reviewed because the away team in the second leg may have 30 more minutes with the extra-time to score a goal that counts as double.

Over the years, Atletico, under their charismatic Argentine coach, have seen off the giants of the European game past and present, beating Ac Milan, Chelsea, Juventus, Bayern Munich and twice knocking out Barcelona, but they have repeatedly fallen to their neighbours.

Atletico have shaken off their inferiority complex against Real Madrid in every other competition under the 47-year-old, beating them twice in the King’s Cup and winning four of their last eight league derbies, but not in the UEFA Champions League.

Dortmund Bomb Suspect Aimed To Profit From Shares – Police

Courtesy: ewn.co.za

German Police have arrested a man suspected of detonating three bombs that targeted the Borussia Dortmund football team bus last week, ahead of their UEFA champions league tie against A.S Monaco

Prosecutors said his aim was to send the club’s shares plummeting and making a profit on an investment.

The 28-year old man is a dual German and Russian national, identified as Sergei V, and had bought options on Borussia Dortmund’s stock bvb.de, before the attack.

The club shares rose at 1.8 per cent on April 12, the day after the attack, and are up about two per cent so far this year.

Juventus Edge Barcelona From Champions League After Goalless Draw

Juventus Edge Barcelona From Champions League After Goalless Draw
Courtesy: fcbarcelona.com

Spanish Giants, Barcelona have crashed out of the UEFA Champions League, following a goalless draw with Juventus at the Camp Nou.

It was a sad Wednesday night for the Catalans, as the attacking combo of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar failed to help them progress to the next round of the competition.

After losing 3-0 to the visiting Italians in the first leg, fans believed the team would replicate the greatest fightback it staged earlier against Paris Saint-Germain in the round-of-16.

Juventus, however, frustrated efforts made by their hosts, as they produced an exceptional defensive performance to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Monaco Humble Dortmund 3-1 To Advance In Champions League

Courtesy: indianexpress

Monaco on Wednesday beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 to book a place in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League.

The League One side took the lead with Kylian Mbappe’s three-minute goal, while Radamel Falcao doubled the score 14 minutes later.

In the second half, Marco Reus netted the consolation for the German side, before Valere Germain sealed the win for the hosts nine minutes before the match ended.

Elsewhere, Barcelona could not replicate the greatest fightback they staged earlier against Paris Saint-Germain in the round-of-16.

This led to the Spanish giants’ exit from the Champions League, after a goalless draw with Juventus at the Camp Nou.

The attacking combo of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar failed to help the Catalans progress to the next round of the competition.

 

Bale To Miss Gijon Match

Courtesy: article.wn.com

Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Real Madrid’s La Liga clash with Sporting Gijon on Saturday.

The Welshman picked up a muscular problem during Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League victory against Bayern Munich and had to be substituted.

It has now been confirmed that the 27-year-old has an issue with his right soleous muscle that could be connected to the ankle injury that was operated on in November 2016.

Mascherano Warns Barcelona Against Juventus Attackers

Courtesy: marca.com

Barcelona defender, Javier Mascherano, has cautioned his teammates against Juventus pair, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, ahead of Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg tie.

Juventus will meet Barcelona for the first time since the 2015 Champions League final, when an early Ivan Rakitic strike left Massimiliano Allegri’s men with a mountain to climb before they succumbed 3­-1 in Berlin.

Barcelona will be without Sergio Busquets due to suspension, meaning Mascherano could be given a rare outing in the midfield holding role.

Neymar, as well as Rakitic and Gerard Pique, who returned to the team following a suspension against Malaga, are all one booking away from a suspension that would rule them out of the return leg.

Arsenal Boost Champions League Hope With West Ham Victory

Champions League: Arsenal Boost Chances With West Ham VictoryArsenal on Wednesday night boosted their UEFA Champions League hope with a deserved 3-0 victory over West Ham.

The Gunners were able to increase their possibility of top-four finish at the Emirates with goals from Mesut Oezil, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.

Reacting to the victory, Ozil said the North Londoners have not forgotten how to win.

With the victory, Arsenal have moved to fifth position on the Premier League table with 54 points.