BEFORE the game kicked off in Porto last night, the biggest match that some of these players will ever play in, I was scouting the pitch to see which Chelsea players were going to stand up and be counted.
We needed to emulate our underdog story from 2012 if we were going to repeat the triumph against Manchester City on Saturday night.
We needed a Didier Drogba, we needed a Gary Cahill, we needed a Frank Lampard, we needed a John Obi Mikel, and we needed a Ryan Bertrand.
But in a season that has been largely inconsistent for Chelsea, it was hard to see where the heroes would come from.
It was hard to see the leaders on the pitch, the guys who would pull us over the line and pull off the impossible task of beating Manchester City three times in a row in the space of just a couple of months.
Kai Havertz was first to step up and announce himself as Chelsea’s Drogba, playing well all game and grabbing the decisive goal in the first-half that would prove to be all Chelsea needed to win the match.
He stepped up under pressure, kept his composure and scored the goal one-on-one with Ederson.
This was the first sign that these Chelsea players were up for this, and they were not about to fold under the pressure.
Truth be told, we had leaders all over the pitch last night with the likes of Jorginho, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Edouard Mendy, Reece James, and Mason Mount, and they will ALL go down as absolute Chelsea heroes now just as the lads from 2012 did.
Bertrand in 2012 wasn’t even a regular starter for Chelsea that season, but he was bought in to play left midfield to give Chelsea that defensive solidity.
He went on to play the game of his life and was a big reason we managed to get the win against Bayern Munich that night.
Ben Chilwell was our Ryan Bertrand last night, he was absolutely colossal going up and down that left flank.
Although he has had a decent season overall, there were moments and some poor form where you thought he could lose his regular spot to Marcos Alonso. But now he’s a Champions League winner.
But perhaps one of Chelsea’s unsung heroes from 2012 and a player that might have been underrated by some, was Cahill.
As a defender, as a true centre back, Cahill was always your guy.
And on that night in Munich, he literally spilt blood, sweat, and tears and defended his heart out to ensure that Chelsea won the match, he was making tackles and vital blocks all game.
Chelsea’s Cahill could have been any one of the backline last night, but Rudiger literally busting a gut to block a shot that was destined for the back of the net and would have put Manchester City back in the game, made him our Cahill on the night, and these are the type of blocks that win you trophies.
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Lampard played a massive part in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph this season by leading them out of the group stages and progressing in the knockout stages.
Everyone will commend and remember his part in this.
But he was also one of the heroes of 2012 in a playing capacity, again running everywhere and helping Chelsea try and keep the ball as much as they could, and also creating up the pitch.
Who else was going to step up as Chelsea’s modern-day Lampard last night than Mount?
He was insane, and it was his unreal through pass that put Havertz in to score the goal.
How about the heartbeat of Chelsea’s team? The guy doing all the dirty work that may go unnoticed by some?
In 2012, that was absolutely Mikel. Last night it was N’Golo Kante.
He always puts in a shift, but somehow last night he managed to not only play like there were two of him on the pitch, but he played like there were three.
The Manchester City players were constantly robbed of possession by a player who must surely be in for a shout of Ballon D’or now?
To sum up, Chelsea went in as the underdogs all through this competition, just as they did in 2012.
They also changed managers halfway through the season, just as they did in 2012.
And to win it as they did in 2012, they were going to have to do their best Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill, Ryan Bertrand, and John Obi Mikel impressions, and they absolutely did that – plus so much more.
These guys will be the new Chelsea heroes for life, the class of 2021 joins the class of 2012.
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