As Drew noted in his post just a few days ago, The Chelsea Football Club had been in the position they were in Saturday before. It was 2008, and Chelsea’s season and the Champions League title was on the line. The match between The Blues and Manchester United would come down to penalty kicks after 120+ minutes of football.
Manchester United would squeeze out the victory and the crown, defeating Chelsea 6-5 in the penalty shootout.
Four years later, Chelsea was back in a familiar position, only this time against Bayern Munich.
Didier Drogba’s header in the 88th minute proved to be the equalizer and after 30 minutes of extra time, Chelsea found itself back in a penalty shootout for the Champions title.
Would Chelsea learn its lesson from 2008?
A sinking feeling had to take over The Blues players as Juan Mata’s first attempt in the shootout was saved by Bayern Munich’s keeper Manuel Neuer.
Oh no, here we go again.
Mata kept his shot low, but didn’t get it far enough right, and Neuer was easily able to make the save, flowing swiftly to his left to bat it away.
To make matters worse, Bayern Munich connected on both of its first two attempts.
David Luiz would need to deliver
on Chelsea’s second attempt, and deliver he would, firing a
blistering shot into the upper right hand corner of the net.
Frank Lampard would find the back of the net on Chelsea’s third attempt, keeping The Blues on the heels of Bayern Munich, who led the shootout 3-2.
Chelsea keeper Petr Cech saved a shot off the foot of Ivica Olic, opening the door for Chelsea’s Ashley Cole to tie the penalty shootout at 3 apiece.
It would come down to the 5th and final shooter for each team.
Bastian Schweinsteiger vs. Didier Drogba
Drogba would have the luxury of going second and getting to watch what Schweinsteiger did with his attempt, knowing he could either win Chelsea its first Champions League title, force a sudden death shootout, or be the scapegoat for Chelsea, who once again would fall in the finals on penalty kicks.
Schweinsteiger got his shot past keeper Cech, unfortunately for him, the ball collided off the right post and ricocheted harmlessly back out into the field of play.
The stage was set for Drogba, and again, he would deliver.
Drogba received the whistle, broke on the ball, and fired the game-winning goal into the left corner as Neuer dove to the opposite side. Drogba gave the sign of the cross and the celebration for Chelsea was on, no longer having to live with the memories of losing in 2008.
But did they learn anything from 2008 to capture this title? And did the study conducted by Michael Bar-Eli at the Ben-Gurion University of Negev, and that my colleague wrote about last week hold true?
Based on the findings from the study, 85% of all shots on target are successful with more than half of the shots taken being placed in the lower third of the goal, and those attempts scoring about 80% of the time.
In Saturday’s match, of the 10 shots attempted, 9 were on target, (Schweinsteiger’s went off the post). Of those 9 shots on target, 7 found the back of the net, with the keepers saving the other 2, a success rate of 78%.
Of the 10 shots attempted in the shootout, 7 were placed in the lower third of the goal (4 for Bayern Munich and 3 for Chelsea). Bayern Munich scored on 2-of-4 (50%) of these attempts, while Chelsea was successful on 2-of-3 (66%) attempts.
The study also found that goalkeepers dive 94% of penalty kick situations, guessing right 40% percent of time and stopping 25-30% of those shots.
On Saturday, the two keepers dove on all 10 shots. Neuer guessed right on 2-of-5 (40%) dives, saving 1 shot (20%). Cech dove to the right side on all 5 attempts, a perfect guess success rate, making one save and having one shot bounce off the post.
Cech blew away the study in terms of his ability to predict which side of the net Bayern Munich would try and place the ball, but held true with his rate of success saving the shot.
But I’m sure Cech isn’t too interested in studies right now.
He has a championship to celebrate.