Chelsea: The Title Race Might Be Over But We're Eyeing European Glory
We’re 51 games into the season and the self-anointed ‘Little Horse’ just won’t stay down. If Chelsea make it to the Champions League final, the squad will have endured another painstakingly long campaign, and this time the chance to win a double waits at the end of the road. It takes exceptional talent to win titles at the top level but what is often forgotten, is that sheer willpower can take you just as far (especially if Eden Hazard is in your side).
Almost a decade ago, Mourinho guided Chelsea to the Premier League title, and that season created a defining legacy at the club, filtering through to every player that has put on the shirt since, even in his absence. It may be the countless millions that Roman Abramovich injects into the club and player’s pockets, but there is an insatiable hunger for trophies, fueled by determination and a sense of team spirit like no other in European football. It was best encapsulated in the run to our triumph in Munich. Against all odds, Chelsea seem to find a way.
Fast forward two years, the man who started it all is back at the helm and the same attributes have started to shine through the current crop. Despite the race against time in the match against PSG, few had any doubt that another goal was coming. Duly, the team delivered in effective, unspectacular fashion. It speaks volumes about the players that they are able to perform on the biggest of stages with such consistency.
Much like the Atletico Madrid side they will have to face in the semi-finals, Chelsea don’t tend to blow opposition teams away, not that they are incapable of doing so. The drubbing of Arsenal is a testament to that, but it is (to steal a line from Frank Underwood) ‘ruthless pragmatism’ that this side is based on.
David Luiz, a marauding centre-back by nature, was transformed into a one man wrecking crew against PSG. Oscar and Willian epitomise the very best of Brazilian football, but they combine it with the tenacity and unrelenting pressure that made Michael Essien in his prime such a formidable powerhouse in the Chelsea midfield. Even the beauty of Eden Hazard has been refined to be as efficient as possible. The defence may not be as watertight as it was a decade ago, but they boast the best record in the league by some margin and has gone a long way to mask the often impotent strike force at the other end of the field.
Forget what Johan Cruyff had in mind for ‘Total Football’, the neutrals should appreciate what this young Chelsea side are already doing, knowing it will set them on course for total domination. It sounds almost tyrannical to talk about domination, but fitting, after all it is masterminded by football’s greatest antagonist in Jose Mourinho. Constantly playing down the chances of his side may irk those not associated with the club, but there is a method to his madness, and the underdog mentality he inspires leaves the side in the perfect position to spoil the party.
A maximum of six games remain for the club this season. Whilst Liverpool remain in the driver's seat for the league title, and Europe’s elite block the path to the Champions League, the Chelsea machine is gearing up for one final push and all those in its way should be afraid.
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