More than just a quarter final

Revenge. Chelsea have had plenty of opportunities to act out their revenge on Manchester United since the Champions League final defeat back in 2008, but nothing will be sweeter I’m sure for the fans than dumping Manchester United out of the competition, as the two teams have been drawn together for the quarter final in a few weeks time.

When the two teams met in the 2008 final it was an interesting fixture. Manchester United had the brilliance of Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez at their disposal a trio that on many occasions dismissed the defences of the premier league with ease. They had the towering partnership of Vidic and Ferdinand who were quite literally a brick wall in defence. Then of course there was Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes. The combination of Hargreaves’ graft and willingness to win the ball complimented the beautiful and often exquisite vision of Paul Scholes.  This was a team in such a rich vein of form that it was impossible to write them off, and their previous meeting saw United brush off Chelsea with ease.

 Chelsea on the other hand were approaching this final in a difficult position. Their season had gone haywire. The great figure of Jose Mourinho, loved and loathed by many but one who undoubtedly brought unamountable success for Chelsea, had gone. Almost over – night, No one could foresee that the change would leave such a big hole on the club, their slow and steady decline, begun. The honeymoon period of Mourinho, was over.

 The power house of Didier Drogba, so efficient and deadly, was muted. The industrious and professional Frank Lampard, limited. Their leader, a commander who enforced so much belief in their team, John Terry, became something of a peripheral figure overnight. When Avram Grant stepped up to fill the shoes of Mourinho, no one was expecting them reaching the finals of the Champions league. This was a feat that not even the great Mourinho had achieved with Chelsea., Grant, despite his gloomy and uninspiring nature also took his Chelsea side and pushed Manchester United to the wire within the Premier League. Chelsea were approaching the final, almost starting a fresh, a new and spirited team.

The two teams collided like any other big clash. Like an unstoppable force and an immovable object, they were equal. As the final whistle sounded, Lampard cancelling out Ronaldo’s thumping header, penalties loomed. As John Terry slipped and watched his penalty cannon off the post, not even the heavy rain could hide his and Chelsea’s heartbreak as the following spot kick was saved well by Van Der Sar, and the trophy was in United’s hands.

When the two teams meet in the coming weeks, a repeat of the 2008 final, for Chelsea and United, it will feel so much more than a quarter final fixture. With the disappointment of that night in Moscow surely still a sore spot, Manchester United will have to be at their very best to stop Ancellotti’s men.

 

Dale Benton



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