Not for the first time in recent history, Chelsea’s path to the Champions League final has been long, highly dramatic and littered with severance pay. Despite being as impressive as Isaac Newton’s list of sexual conquests for large parts of the season, the Pensioners head to Munich with a decent chance of landing their – and London’s – first ever European Cup.
If you were to make conclusions based purely on Chelsea’s domestic form, Bayern 8-0 at 500/1 would start to look vaguely tempting. But Chelsea’s form in Europe has been the saving grace of the season. There’s not much more you need to know about Chelsea’s in and out form than this: a team that beat Barcelona over two legs in the Champions League, managed to take three points out of a possible 12 against the Merseyside clubs. There have been times when watching the Blues has been as pleasant as imagining a Gary Neville orgasm, but Roberto Di Matteo has brought a certain amount of stability to the club.
In Blighty, Chelsea have won just about half of their games in English football’s most coveted competitions. And the Carling Cup. Winning a tad over 50 per cent of their domestic matches isn’t a disaster, but given those numbers take into account an FA Cup win, you may choose to view them as being more padded than your average teenage girl’s bra. In Europe however, it’s been more encouraging, both in terms of how often they’ve won and how often they’ve avoid shooting themselves in the foot. The boost a 58 per cent win rate in continental competition.
It’s not really a foregone conclusion because not everything has been rosey for Bayern Munich on the home front. They did finish second in the Bundesliga, but it was by quite a distance and roughly equivalent to finishing 6th in a proper league. Their domestic numbers also felt the benefit of a run to the final of the national cup competition, but the goodwill accrued from that was somewhat wasted when they got tonked by Dortmund in the decider last Saturday. On the whole, Bayern win more often at home and abroad, but they’ve also contrived to lose more often on the continent, giving Chelsea more than a glimmer of hope.
It’ll also surprise many to see on average in Europe this season, Chelsea score slightly more than the Germans. The Pensioners have managed around 2.5 goals a game with the Germans getting about 2.25. Considering the Bayern figure is inflated due to the 7-0 cakewalk they enjoyed against Basel in the last 16, it suggests that maybe Chelsea carry the greater attacking threat.
Can Chelsea do it? Well, they’ve been defying odds throughout this Champions League campaign. They go into the final missing key players, out of form and generally unfancied – handicaps that haven’t stopped them at any point so far.