It’s been a while since I was on a plane all night, but I must say, the trip from Dallas to Madrid was most pleasant. It was right at a little over 9 hours flying time, so ample time to get some shut-eye, even in coach class.
I don’t know if I dreamed on the way over, but if I did, I’d like to think it was about soccer (or, “futbol,” as many refer to it across Europe and around the world).
I’ve been a futbol fan ever since I was a wee lad, having played starting in YMCA leagues early on, and having embraced that most defensive of positions, goalkeeper.
So I would like to think I was dreaming on the flight over of the Chelsea v. Bayer Munchen final for the European Champions League, played Saturday night in Munich.
It seemed a minor miracle that Chelsea even made it that far, but as a team, they pulled together to beat some of the best in the world to get there, and Didier Drogba once again demonstrated what a clutch player he is — even as his contract with Chelsea expires shortly.
It was all Bayern Munich all the time for the first half, and well into the second half. Possession slid into 54-55% Munich, easily, and it seemed like every time I looked up, their relentless offense was pounding Chelsea on their end of the field.
But things took a turn for Chelsea late in the second half. They were getting the ball more on Bayern’s end of the field, and seemed to be picking up momentum…that is, until Bayern’s Thomas Muller knocked in a brilliant header in the 83rd minute.
Chelsea’s sails deflated, with only 7 minutes left in the match, it looked as though it was Bayern’s for the taking…but that’s where Didier Drogba comes in, levelling it at 1-1 with his own brilliant header. You could feel the tide turning across the Bayern stadium.
Drogba almost became the anti-hero in extra time, fouling Franck Ribery and engendering a penalty kick from Arjen Robben that Petr Čech was able to deflect.
Enter the drum roll, as the two sides went to penalty kicks, and the last opportunity came down to Drogba’s penalty try, which sent Petr Čech diving to the left as Drogba spun the ball into the right side of the net, anointing Chelsea this season’s European Champions League victor.