Thursday, 26 April 2012

Chelsea 2012 vs Liverpool 2005

So, the stage is set. On Saturday the 19th of May, two of the biggest clubs in the world will go head-to-head for the honour, for the glory, for the ecstasy of being crowned champions of Europe. Words will be said and swords will be sharpened as twenty-two of the finest players in the world do battle. One game to rule them all. That's right, in just over three weeks time, Barcelona* will play against Real Madrid* in the Champions League final.


*Bayern Munich

What the fuck.

Yes, I may have written this article a little bit in advance, but, like the BBC Formula One editing team, I think I salvaged the situation and ensured a sense of continuity and cohesion. No?

So, what this means is that instead of fawning over two teams I actually see only once a year, relying on the words of that one friend who watches La Liga religiously, or the guy who checks out BBC stats to see who is doing well, I am forced to write about something else. Luckily, I think it is far funnier to slate Liverpool and Chelsea anyway.

Against all odds, in May, bald, tattooed men will parade around Munich, all dressed in the same uniform, spouting nonsense about the ideals of their heroes, discussing generally right-wing views, whilst chanting the name of a leader many believe to be racist. If you get that joke, you're very clever, and I'm very sorry.

Sorry for using this picture twice, it just
summed up my point well is all!
For Chelsea, in spite of a crowded fixture list, a relative novice as manager and suffering one of their worst seasons in recent memory, they will be in the final in Munich. How on earth did that happen? As I have said, all due respect to Chelsea for holding out against Barcelona; a team with twice the talent but crucially, half the body weight. However, this Chelsea side are a team who have come through time and time again against teams who should have given them a pasting. They drew with Genk for goodness sake. Even Manchester United could beat Genk and they have as much knowledge of how to succeed in Europe as a blind, fat Texan with a world map of Texas...or David Cameron.

Liverpool in 2005 hadn't fared much better. Like Chelsea, they were locked in a cross-city battle for fourth place. This was the year when fourth place became sexy, when fourth-place really started meaning something, which is why for Arsene Wenger, it means more than a trophy. Despite boasting world-class players Josemi, Steve Finnan, Djimi Traore and Igor Biscan, Liverpool stuggled throughout the year, even getting beaten twice against Manchester United, a team they (and Everton) insist on doubling their efforts for year after year. This was the year when Rafael "fact" Benitez took over the job and, looking at Youtube videos of that season, looks remarkably young...but still fat.

"Sinama-Pongolle IS a good player you prick"

In their final group match, they faced a must-win game, for them against Olympiakos, but having to succeed by two goals. Outplayed for most of the match, Liverpool found a way back into the game due to those superstars of attacking football: Neil Mellor and Florent Sinama-Pongolle, before Steven Gerrard scored that goal which that fat, sexist bloke yelled about for a while.

Back to the present, Chelsea just about survived their group themselves, courtesy of a last-game win over Valencia to somehow top their group. As a result, they were drawn against Napoli, a team who have enjoyed a reasonable degree of success in Italy in the past few seasons. "Chelsea will get battered" said those aforementioned people who pretend to know everything about European football, much like those who watched the KONY 2012 video pretend to know everything about African politics. "They'll sneak through somehow" I said. This is because Chelsea have always had a knack for beating teams they have no right to beat. This is why they have been England's second (wink) most successful club in the last ten years, because they can play like shit and still win.

Yep. Andre Villas Boas taking a shit on
Chelsea before they shat on him.
The game against Napoli was a shambles. The first leg was a microcosm for Andre Villas-Boas' reign as Chelsea boss. Attacking threat yes, but as much chance of keeping a clean sheet as a fourteen year-old boy with a lads mag and a locked door. Somehow, Chelsea escaped with just a 3-1 deficit as Villas-Boas escaped with a job deficit and a few million quid.

Replacing the Portuguese manager was former player and former crap manager Roberto Di Matteo. Di Matteo has been praised for his performances as Chelsea boss since taking over and, although impressive, they should be taken with not so much a pinch, but an ocean of salt. Remember Di Matteo can't lose here; he has no expectations and can afford to exclusively play the older players, in other words, sacrificing a long-term plan for a short-term goal in order to add to his C.V. Nevertheless, after taking over, he "inspired" Chelsea to a 4-1 win in the second-leg. Of course, this victory was more to do with Chelsea's senior players turning up for once after their anonymous displays under the previous manager, reminiscent of a spoilt kid trying to get rid of their Maths tutor (which explains Villas-Boas' nonsensical tactical ramblings).

In the last sixteen in 2005, Liverpool played Bayer Leverkusen. I think. I'm not very good at this...

In their quarter-final, Chelsea played Benfica, where an impressive defensive display saw them leave Lisbon with a 1-0 lead. However, in the second leg they were awful. Despite playing against ten men for an hour, Chelsea laboured to a victory which was so nearly snatched from them on a number of occasions. Again, you have to be in it to win it and I'm a United fan. And we're not in it. Innit.

Flying back to the past with as much accuracy as an Anthony Le Tallec shot (remember him as well?!), Liverpool played a quarter-final which served as a poignant reminder of the Heysel disaster in the 1980's. Remember, in 2005, Italian teams were actually good, not like their crap teams of today. In those days, I often wondered how Juventus kept winning Serie A year after year despite a not so great team, I guess we now know don't we...

Liverpool cheering on David Brent

Anyway, nobody gave Liverpool a chance against Juve but down to a combination of dogged defence and a great goal by Luis Garcia (what the hell happened to him?), Liverpool took a 2-1 lead to Turin. What happened next was like a match between Tuesday night's Chelsea and Tuesday night's Chelsea.

Despite needing a goal, Juventus couldn't shake their Italian-ness as their eagerness to keep a clean sheet prevented them from playing with the sort of adventure required to break down such a terrible, terrible team. Liverpool had somehow reached the semi-final.

Back to the present, next for Chelsea came the tie against Barcelona, a game I don't really want to talk about, because you've probably read more than enough about that game. Chelsea's effort, although commendable, owed as much to good fortune as it did to skill. That said, how crap were Barcelona? Playing the same way over and over again, they were met with an almost "computer says no" sense of apathy and as much stubborness as a Catholic donkey from a Chelsea team who had to survive for an hour without their captain John Terry, who had been sent off for...well, I don't know what he was trying to do.

Talking of donkey's, Rafael Benitez was now (not now as in now, but now as it was then) seen as a God. His tactics of "play five defensive midfielders and knick a goal" was taking Europe by storm. In a neat twist which I probably didn't intend, Liverpool played Chelsea in the semi-final that year. In another neat twist, back in 2005, Chelsea were pretty frigging awesome, far removed from their team of today. That team won the league with 95 points, coupling an almost invincible defence with a genuinely potent attack, back when Damien Duff was good and Petr Cech wasn't a scrum half.

There seemed no way that Liverpool could break Chelsea down and, in many ways, they didn't. After somehow surviving the first leg through a combination of luck and lots of defending, Liverpool took the tie back to Anfield locked at 0-0. Due to a goal that didn't go in, Liverpool won a game which was so dull, I still have nightmares about it. You know that fourteen year old boy I referred to earlier? Well, that was my age at the time and, such was the lack of excitement in that game, I definitely kept a clean sheet that night.

But what I want to know is this. Which team was worse? Of course, comments are more than welcome. There is no doubt how big an achievement it is and was for both sides, but I'm not after that, that would be too sensible to talk about. In all honesty, being as neutral as you can, which team was worse, Liverpool of 2005 or Chelsea of today? Bear in mind, Chelsea of today has Kalou and Mikel.

While you furiously battle with your own thoughts about that one, here is something to consider: England have had a team in the final for seven of the last eight Champions League seasons. I still don't know how, but they do. For all those* who say the Premier League is not the best league in the world, you must feel pretty crap!

* - umm, I do and it still isn't the best league in the world.

Chelsea will start the final as underdogs but seven years ago, no-one gave Liverpool a chance against AC Milan, especially after they went three-nil down at half-time to a far superior side. Liverpool somehow came back to win that game to become champions of Europe on the edge of Asia. What price on Chelsea emerging from the ashes in the Bavarian capital?


  1. Good piece mate, maybe im biased but i'd say liverpool had less quality in that team man for man, Chelsea this season have def had more luck tho either way the fact that salamon Kalou will probably play in a champions league final gives hope to the rest of us! Would be interesting to know the worst player to win the champions league...

  2. I have to agree.

    This Chelsea team, although limited, does have some genuinely top players like Cech, Terry, Lampard, Mata and Drogba. Although half of them are at the end of their careers, they are capable of performing, particularly in cup competitions when the pressure is on.

    That Liverpool team was absolutely dogshit in my opinion except for Gerrard, Carragher and maybe Luis Garcia. Which kind of says it's own story.

    Oh you've opened up a whole can of worms there! I will open the bidding with Jonathan Greening.

  3. Nuno Valente
    Is Victor Valdes the worst player to win three?

  4. It has to be Djimi Traore.

    And yes Valdes is the worst to win 3.

  5. I like you blogs. Very good reads :) Be careful about being too much of a smartarse. You make a good point as to why DiMatteo may be doing well at Chelsea, but to say "former crap manager"?? I am not sure if you are saying that for humour or that's what you think. He got West Brom promoted and has a win percentage of over 50%. Not too crap. Humour is great, but at times you need to be reasonable or everything you say is just a joke. I am not sure if that is the type of writer you want to be.

  6. Thanks very much!

    What is wrong with the world today, all the criticism has been constructive, you can't be British?!

    I see what you mean in that maybe some reason will highlight the humour, this whole football writing lark is still new to me, but thanks for the advice.

    As for DiMatteo, perhaps "crap" is harsh. As you point out, his record is decent and maybe it's just me, but he doesn't strike me as a top manager. Remember Roy Keane got Sunderland promoted and saw them to (relative) safety. He is doing a good job at Chelsea but, as I say, he has no pressure and no long-term orientation.

    Although yes, his results have been impressive.

    Thanks for reading and liking!