Eight years on from the final in Munich, this piece takes a look back at some of the stories that lay behind the final result of Bayern Munich and Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League final clash. By doing so, the journey of both Bayern Munich and Chelsea up to this point is explored, the stories of some individual players in the final are detailed, and of course what happened on that night in Munich is discussed.
A deafening roar at the kick-off of a Champions League final is not unusual, but the one that succeeded Chelsea kicking-off felt a little different, and slightly more biased to one team. The Allianz Arena – a 75,000-seater stadium in the North of Munich – hosted this edition of the final, and it just so happened that it’s main tenants, Bayern Munich, had made it to the final.
This was an opportunity that no team had been afforded since Roma hosted Liverpool at the 1984 European Cup final in the Stadio Olimpico. While Roma lost that game on penalties, it was another Italian team, Helenio Herrera’s Inter Milan of 1965, who were the last team to win the European Cup at their home ground, as they defeated Benfica 1-0 at the San Siro. There is no question as to which of these two teams the Bayern Munich of 2012 wanted to be remembered alongside.
The Bayern team afforded the opportunity to make this history set-up in a 4-3-2-1 formation, and lined-up with: Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Jéröme Boateng, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Diego Contento; Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery; Mario Gómez.
Their English counterparts used a similar formation, with the following players: Petr Čech; José Bosingwa, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole; John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard; Salomon Kalou, Juan Mata, Ryan Bertrand; Didier Drogba.
Early on, Bastian Schweinsteiger concedes a foul, as he sticks out his arm to block the path of the ball. The booking that follows means a long game on the edge for the German midfielder.
Leading up to this final, yellow cards had already played their part in hampering Bayern’s selections. Usual first-team picks Holger Badstuber, David Alaba and Luiz Gustavo, had all picked up that infamous semi-final yellow card that would suspend them from the final.
If all was well, Bayern would likely have avoided dropping midfielder-turner-defender Anatoliy Tymoschchuk into central defence in such an important game, and Alaba would always have been preferred to Contento at left-back. Ever the meticulous planner, however, Bayern coach, Jupp Heynckes, deployed the same line-up in their final Bundesliga match of the season, against FC Köln. That dress-rehearsal went perfectly to plan, as Bayern ran-out 4-1 winners.
This, however, was the Champions League final, not an ultimately insignificant Bundesliga game. While Contento and, in particular, Tymoshchuk were capable of playing at that level, the towering presence of Badstuber and penetrative ability of Alaba would surely have been preferred by Heynckes.
Philipp Lahm injects energy into the Bayern attack, surging down the right side. A quick one-two with Arjen Robben sees Lahm advance into the Chelsea box, only for his cross to be cut out by David Luiz.
This block was one of many Luiz was required to make that night, but his inclusion in Chelsea’s team was far from certain in the lead up to the match. He was coming back from a month out injured, and as the match wore on, the limits to the Brazilian’s hamstring became clearer. Still, he threw himself in front of every Bayern Munich shot.
Meanwhile his defensive partner, Gary Cahill – signed from relegation threatened Bolton Wanderers as recently as January 2012 – had only returned to training following injury a week before the final. Under normal circumstances, neither would likely have played, yet both players found themselves in the first-eleven that night courtesy of another suspension crisis.
Bayern’s suspended trio were joined in that respect by Branislav Ivanović, Ramires and Raul Meireles from Chelsea. The biggest absence, however, was that of their captain, John Terry. A red card in the previous round also ruled him out of the final, meaning Chelsea entered this final without both their most experienced player and best defender.
The fact that both Luiz and Cahill made it through the full 120 minutes is a testament to the determination and enduring defensive ability of both. It was a collective performance that Terry himself would have been proud of.
Robben, cutting in from the right, finds Thomas Müller, who in turn stabs a pass to Mario Gómez. Despite a good first touch, the German striker blasts the ball off-target from roughly 12 yards. This is the latest in a slew of chances not taken by Bayern Munich so far, and Gómez’s second miss from inside the penalty area in the space of three minutes.
The reaction of Bayern Munich manager, Jupp Heynckes, was telling. He exasperatedly turned his back to the pitch and slammed the top of the dug-out. He was well aware that these sorts of chances could not be wasted.
Even more surprising was that Gómez was the one missing them. With 13 goals in 12 games, Gómez was the second top scorer in the Champions League that season, with his first goal coming all the way back in the middle of August.
Having finished third in the Bundesliga in 2011, Bayern were made to face a play-off with FC Zurich for a place in the 2012 Champions League. Having comfortably passed that hurdle courtesy of goals from Müller, Robben and Gómez, Bayern then topped a tricky group that included Manchester City, Napoli and Villarreal.
After a 1-0 loss in their first-leg last-16 tie versus FC Basel, Bayern responded with a 7-0 thrashing back at the Allianz, including four goals from Gómez. A relatively straightforward 4-0 aggregate win over Marseille at the quarter-finals then set-up a semi-final against Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid.
Gómez again proved decisive, scoring a 90th minute winner which meant Bayern would take a 2-1 lead to the Bernabéu. Two early Real goals from Cristiano Ronaldo were then cancelled out by a Robben strike just before the half-hour mark. As the scores remained unchanged through the 90 minutes and extra-time, the game went to penalties.
Ronaldo, Kaka and Sergio Ramos all failed to score from the spot. Bayern also had their trouble with misses from Kroos and Lahm, but Alaba and Gómez’s successful penalties left Bastian Schweinsteiger with the decisive kick.
Amidst the jeers of the Madrid crowd, Bayern’s midfielder sent Iker Casillas the wrong way to score into the bottom-left corner. Schweinsteiger, a Munich boy born and bred, had just secured his team a place in the Champions League final. A journey that began with a home qualifier in August against FC Zurich, was about to come full circle with a final back at the Allianz Arena in Munich.
The statistics make for damning reading from a Chelsea perspective. Possession: Bayern 60-40 Chelsea. Shots: Bayern 16-2 Chelsea. Corners: Bayern 8-0 Chelsea.
However, as the old adage goes ‘the only stat that matters is the scoreline’ and that statistic still sat at 0-0. Chelsea were struggling, but by no means out of this final.
That, presumably, was one of the few facts from the first-half that Chelsea head-coach, Roberto Di Matteo, could look at positively. Having only taken the job as a care-taker following Andre Villas-Boas’ sacking in March, Di Matteo had now found himself giving a half-time team talk in a Champions League final.
But he had earned his right to be there; his appointment coincided with a complete turnaround in Chelsea’s Champions League fortunes, with his first game in the competition requiring a comeback from a 3-1 first-leg defeat to Napoli. Remarkably, he achieved this, defeating Napoli 4-1 in extra time. Following a 4-1 aggregate victory over Benfica, Chelsea then found themselves facing Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the semi-finals.
At Stamford Bridge a goal from Didier Drogba just before half-time gave Chelsea the advantage heading into the second leg, but many still saw them as rank outsiders at the Nou Camp. Perhaps this was because Chelsea had been here before. It was Chelsea’s sixth Champions League semi-final in eight years, with only one of those, in 2008, ending in progression to the final. This was a testament to both the continual quality of the squad in that era, and also the unfortunate lack of cutting edge to jump that last hurdle.
In 2012, however, Chelsea made the jump, drawing 2-2 in Barcelona to win the tie 3-2 on aggregate. Their one goal from the first leg lead was overturned by goals from Sergio Busquets and Andreas Iniesta. Then, on the stroke of half-time, a sublime Ramires chip caught out Victor Valdes, and Chelsea had an all important away goal. A missed Lionel Messi penalty then gave Chelsea further hope, before Fernando Torres, with only minutes of injury-time remaining, countered Barcelona from a corner. With just the goalkeeper to beat, the Spaniard rounded the goalkeeper and scored.
Di Matteo, in just his 21st match in charge of Chelsea, would contest the final with the much greater experienced Jupp Heynckes.
Ryan Bertrand makes way for Florent Malouda in a like-for-like change by Chelsea. A successful night for the 22-year-old, considering the task that lay in front of him before the match.
“I could hardly believe it,” Bertrand later said. “But I knew what I had to do.”
What Bertrand “had to do” was become the first player to make his European debut in the Champions League final.
While it is commonly assumed that Bertrand was an unwanted replacement in the team, Florent Maloud, Daniel Sturridge, Fernando Torres and Paulo Ferreira were all on the Chelsea bench that night. All four could have filled in on the left of midfield, yet Bertrand got the nod.
He also had to do it out of position, as Di Matteo played him on the wing, rather than in his preferred full-back position. Coming up against arguably the best right-sided pair in Europe at the time in Lahm and Robben, Bertrand worked in sync with Ashley Cole to nullify the threat and continually track and block the Bayern pair.
On the few occasions Chelsea broke into their opposition’s half, Bertrand was also unafraid to run at the Bayern defence as well. During the 73 minutes he was on the pitch, Bertrand played as well as any other Chelsea attacker, and more than justified his selection.
1-0. GOAL BAYERN MUNICH (MÜLLER). Kroos, as he has done all match, begins the move. Inside on the left-hand side of the pitch, he floats the ball to the far-post. Cole is missing and Thomas Müller is given a free-header which he aims into the ground. As it bounces up, it goes through Čech’s hands and the Allianz erupts.
As Müller celebrated that goal, he seemed unsure of where to run to, and so simply dropped to his knees inside Chelsea’s penalty area, surrounded by his teammates. Three of those celebrating with him – Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Robben – had lined-up alongside Müller two years previously in the 2010 Champions League final. That night saw Jose Mourinho’s extremely well-drilled Inter Milan side outclass Bayern who, much like Chelsea in this final, never asserted any dominance upon the flow of the game.
Losing, be it in a final or a dead-rubber league fixture, is not the Bayern Munich way. “We are not even allowed to draw a game there [Bayern Munich], that’s the end of the world,” Schweinsteiger once told Focus Magazine.
At a club with those sort of pressures, it is highly likely that the four who started both finals did not see this game as a chance for redemption, but rather an opportunity to return things to their natural order. Müller’s goal looked to have given them that opportunity.
1-1. GOAL CHELSEA (DROGBA). They have done it. Out of nowhere, Chelsea equalise, and of course it is Didier Drogba with another final goal. Mata fires a corner in from the right, but before it has left his foot, Drogba darts to the near-side of the six-yard box. Jéröme Boateng attempts to stop him, but does so in vain, as Drogba rises and bullets a header into the Bayern Munich net.
This was a huge goal for Chelsea on the night, but for Drogba it meant so much more; Chelsea’s only previous Champions League final appearance, in 2008 had seen them lose to Manchester United on penalties in Moscow. That night, Drogba was sent-off for raising his hand to Nemanja Vidic in the 116th minute, and so unable to take part in the shoot-out Chelsea eventually lost.
Four years later, Drogba’s late header gave Chelsea hope where they should have had none. He had once again stepped up when it counted the most, as that goal in Moscow took his record in finals to nine goals in nine appearances for Chelsea.
Even more poignant was the fact that in the lead up to the game, rumours were circulating that the final may be Drogba’s last game for Chelsea. Whether or not Drogba knew what his future would be at the time, he would most certainly have been aware that that goal made amends for his behaviour in 2008.
But with extra-time now coming, could he go one step further?
PENALTY BAYERN MUNICH. As Bayern get extra-time underway, their domination continues. Ribery enters the Chelsea box, and after dummying right, darts to the left and is clipped by a stray foot from Drogba. It is Robben who steps up to take the kick. He hits it powerfully with his left, but the height and placement is perfect for Čech to save it, before diving on top of the ball to prevent a rebound. Considering his ability, a poor penalty from Robben.
As well as the similar suspension issues and previous final loss, Arjen Robben was another link between these two clubs. The Bayern winger played for Chelsea between 2004 and 2007, and his history with the club would have made scoring a winner against them to win the Champions League all the sweeter. It could also provide him with some form of redemption, having missed a crucial penalty in a 1-0 loss to eventual Bundesliga winners Borussia Dortmund in April.
However, Robben would need to wait another year to redeem himself for both penalty misses. Bayern managed to reach the Champions League final again, and this time the Dutchman made no mistake. He put in a man of the match performance and ended a streak of 24 consecutive shots in a Champions League final without scoring, as he got the winner in a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund.
“Tonight I scored the goal,” he said in a relieved post-match interview in 2013. “We did it and we can forget about the other things.”
2012 may not have been Robben’s year, but he would get his starring moment in the Champions League eventually. At the time, however, that would likely have been of little consolation. His penalty miss was the best opportunity of an extra-time in which fatigue was clearly getting to both teams.
The referee ends open play for the final time, and penalties will now be used to decide this tense final.
Both teams might be questioning how exactly they have found themselves in this position after the last 120 minutes of play. One glance at the statistics would have led many to assume that Bayern had won this game comfortably.
But this game going to penalties, following that period of open play, was in-keeping with the spirit of how both teams found themselves in this position; Many had predicted that this would finally be the year of an El Clasico Champions League final, where Mourinho and Guardiola would definitively settle their season-long feud for dominance.
In reality, however, the semi-finals did not go their way. Guardiola instead announced in the days following the semi-final defeat that he would leave Barcelona at the end of the season, while Mourinho has since said his 2012 semi-final defeat was the only game that moved him to tears as a manager, as he sensed such a huge missed opportunity.
The 2012 Champions League had not gone ‘according to plan’ all season, and so in some ways penalties may have been the fairest way to close out the competition.
Penalty 1: 1-0. Bayern captain, Lahm, steps up to take the first kick, likely looking to make amends for his miss in the semi-final shoot-out. He does just, confidently hitting the right of the net.
Penalty 2: 1-0. Neuer saves the first Chelsea penalty! Usually so accurate, Juan Mata hits his shot between the centre and the right of the goal, making it easy for Neuer to get down in time.
Penalty 3: 2-0. Having missed several chances earlier in the evening, Mario Gómez makes no mistake here, scoring into the bottom right corner for Bayern.
Penalty 4: 2-1. Luiz may be under pressure to keep Chelsea in with a chance of winning, but he certainly does not show any nerves about it, firing a successful penalty into the top left-hand corner.
Penalty 5: 3-1. Bayern maintain their advantage, with their goalkeeper Neuer surprising everyone in the Allianz by confidently blasting the ball just beyond Čech’s reach, into the bottom-left corner.
Penalty 6: 3-2. Lampard follows Luiz in making no mistake with his penalty, hitting it into the roof of the net.
Penalty 7: 3-2. Čech saves again! This time substitute, Olić, is the culprit, hitting an uncomfortable looking penalty at a savable height for the Czech ‘keeper.
Penalty 8: 3-3. Ashley Cole caps a terrific performance in this match by dispatching the penalty that takes the shoot-out into sudden death.
Penalty 9: 3-3. A third penalty save from Čech! Schweinsteiger misses! Perhaps the one Bayern player no one expected to miss, the hero in Madrid may now have cost his boyhood team the Champions League. Visibly upset, he has to be helped back to the half-way line by Lahm, and in doing so the two German’s pass Didier Drogba, who now has the chance to score the winning penalty.
Penalty 10: 4-3. Drogba scores! Chelsea win the 2012 Champions League on penalties! No mistake is made by Drogba, as he calmly rockets the decisive penalty into the back of Neuer’s net.
With that final spot-kick, Drogba brought to an end the Champions League final of 2012.
For Bayern, the immediate post-match feeling was obviously one of devastation. While no team enjoys receiving a second-place medal, that feeling was clearly only amplified by having to do so in their own city and stadium. In losing at the Allianz Arena, they replicated the Roma of 1984, rather than the Inter Milan of 1965.
Yet in hindsight, this moment of devastation was a turning point for the team; the following season would see them win a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, before then going on to a period of unprecedented domestic dominance.
Chelsea’s future was slightly more mixed. Left with no real choice following an FA Cup and Champions League double, Abramovic awarded Di Matteo with a permanent contract. However, that only lasted until November later that same year. Despite this, more European success would come,with a Europa League win under another caretaker, Rafa Benitez, in 2013.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s immediate future following their win on penalties was more straightforward; they were led by captain John Terry – who famously appeared on the pitch in full-kit (with shin pads) having played no part in the game – on the long walk through the Allianz to receive the trophy they had so longed for during the Abramovich era. In doing so, memories of Moscow were replaced by those of Munich, and Chelsea’s journey to the elite of European football was complete.