The European Champions have seemingly become synonymous with the heroic backs-to-the-wall display that is supposedly the only way outsiders such as Denmark, Ireland and even (deep breath) England can hope to prosper in Poland and Ukraine this summer. While Chelsea have gone down in folklore as the epitome of a team emerging victorious despite every rational thought screaming otherwise, I don’t think that was the kind of reputation that Roman Abramovich had in mind for his club when he swept into Stamford Bridge along with his billions in 2003. It feels that, despite the remarkable attempts of Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and the rest, the victors in Munich are being damned with faint praise.
Not that I care one jot. At the risk of banging the same old drum, for me, all that matters is winning. Style, subtlety and sophistication are wonderful aspirations on the football field and should be applauded but ultimately it is about getting your hands on silverware whatever Arsene Wenger says.
And that is the key to what ‘doing a Chelsea’ is all about. There’s no point digging out a goalless draw in one match only to capitulate in the next. Remember the Blues did not lose one of their last six matches in their victorious Champions League run with the 3-1 defeat at Napoli in the last 16 followed by four wins and two draws (including one penalty shootout win). ‘Doing a Chelsea’ requires dedication, organisation, luck and ruthless, clinical finishing. Just sitting deep is not enough. Everyone must be on the same page and whoever leads the line must be able to both hold the ball up and find the back of the net on the rare occasions that the goal appears in range.
Thus far, Denmark have produced the most passable impression of Roberto Di Matteo’s men with their 1-0 victory over Holland providing the first bona fide shock of Euro 2012. The Dutch had a whopping 28 attempts on goal in Kharkiv yet tested goalkeeper Stephan Andersen on just eight occasions. Robin van Persie reprised fantastically Cesc Fabregas’ performance for Barcelona at Stamford Bridge by missing a hatful of gilt-edged chances that in normal circumstances would have put the result beyond doubt. By contrast, the Danes had just eight shots but every single one was on target including, or course, Michael Krohn-Dehli’s superbly taken winner.
But as I said earlier, it will count for nothing if they get turned over by Germany and Portugal and are subsequently sent packing before the knockout rounds get underway. To properly succeed they will need an unsung midfielder to emulate the energy and precise finish executed by Ramires in Camp Nou, perhaps Dennis Rommedahl. Daniel Agger and Simon Kjaer followed in the footsteps of Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill by repelling all before them against Holland but they will have to redouble their efforts to truly pay tribute to their English counterparts.
And it goes without saying that an under pressure and much-maligned striker should ultimately find redemption with a significant and symbolic strike. For Fernando Torres, step forward the hapless Nicklas Bendtner. If Providence should smile on Roy Hodgson, maybe Andy Carroll could play the same role for England though maybe that is stretching the analogy just a little too far.
However the final acts play out over the next 19 days, ‘Doing a Chelsea’ appears to be as fashionable at the moment as the people who live there despite the usual cabal of French, Dutch and Spanish players and pundits whining about the so-called ‘death of football’. Now that Chelsea Football Club is on everyone’s lips around the world, it actually feels like the sport has only just been born.
You can read more of Phil's opinions at ShoutyAndSpitty.com or on Twitter @PhilLythell