Monday, May 21, 2012


First of all, congratulations to Chelsea for winning their first Champions League crown with a (1-1 full time) 4-3 penalty shoot-out score against Bayern Munich! Secondly, congratulations to Napoli for winning their fourth Coppa Italia crown (the last one being in 1987 - the Maradona era) with a 2-0 score against Juventus. It is indeed a sweet victory after waiting for 22 years for a silverware. Well, there is a reason why I titled my post as Di Matteo & Napoli. The reason is pretty obvious.

Di Matteo is probably (I don't have the stats but) the first interim / caretaker manager to win the Champions League crown. When he became the interim boss (after André Villas-Boas' sacking), Chelsea were on the brink of exit in the last 16 of the Champions League. If you remember the first leg was lost at 3-1 at Napoli. Everyone thought it was the end of Chelsea in the tournament. Di Matteo came and did a miracle in the return leg at Stamford Bridge. They won 4-1 in extra-time which ended Napoli's superb run in Europe's biggest competition.

If last season was defined by the shocking run of André Villas-Boas' Porto, then this season can probably be defined by the fine run of Napoli and Athletic Bilbao. Athletic Bilbao became famous when they slayed Manchester United in the Europa League last 16. It was a pity that they were beaten in the final. They have a chance to carve a name for themselves if they overcome the mighty Barcelona in probably Pep Guardiola's final match as manager for Barcelona. All eyes will be on the Copa del Rey final before the start of the EURO2012.

As for Chelsea, especially Drogba and owner Abramovich, this will be a sweet victory after much unfairness had befallen to Chelsea in the tournament in the past. However, many immediate questions arise from the fate of the future of Di Matteo as well as some players. Di Matteo being an Italian as well as an ex-Lazio player may be forgiven for his tactical brand of defensive football now that they are the winners. Bayern Munich being so wasteful had only themselves to blame for losing the title. This is especially for Robben for missing a penalty. I guess Chelsea have the luck of the season as key players missed penalty against them in such high profile matches with added home advantages (Messi missed it during the 2nd leg semifinal at Camp Nou). Who else have such luck? Of course, Petr Cech was the big difference in the penalty shoot-out which saw the trophy going to Chelsea after Didier Drogba's equalizer as well as penalty shoot-out winner.

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