Chelsea’s unlikely hero saves the day as they sink the yellow submarine and become the ‘Kings of Europe’

August 12, 2021

A game that had lacked the usual pomp and show of the European nights set against the backdrop of a delightful evening in Belfast, a city in Northern Ireland provided a sense of elusiveness engulfed by the fatigue of the heavily illustrious summer which was filled with action with consecutive two major football competitions along with the Olympics which had dawned upon everyone present there. The absence of enthusiasm and charisma from both sides had screamed for some break away from the entire high voltage footballing night atmosphere. But au contraire (French for on the contrary) as some may say enthusiastically (just like the PSG fans who are pumped up on Messi mania and cannot wait to see him on the pitch in the PSG colors) the curtain opener to yet another season was not deficient in entertainment and adrenaline.

What a summer Jorginho’s been having

Chelsea had not only clinched the victory away from Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup final clash and crowned the Kings of Europe but also they had exhibited the dire need of a prolific number 10 or a traditional center forward. Having said that it had been reported that Romelu Lukaku’s flight landed in London yesterday evening to finalize his return to Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel would welcome him to his team with arms wide open as he will look to provide Chelsea with a solution of being the talismanic presence at the center to score goals. The primary target of the Tuchel army would be to win the Premier League this season which they showed even in the budding stages of the competitive fixtures that they are more than capable to handle.

The Champions

The match had kicked off with the Blues who took advantage of their brilliant midfield play and high backline with quick response in attack constantly created chaos inside the six-yard box of the yellow submarine.

Finally, their attacking prowess’s were unhinged around the 27th minute as Alonso’s searching ball down the left flank found Havertz. The German international had stationed the ball by the penalty spot and Hakim Ziyech lofted it just out of Sergio Asenjo’s reach and at the back of the net.

Ziyech’s strike

Despite having a great game Ziyech had to be substituted as he fell victim to a bad landing and injured his right arm which was later confirmed by Tuchel was much serious than it looked and Christian Pulisic came on to replace him and held on to their coach plan of action which was more direct than ever. Villarreal was a bit delayed to the proceedings but started showing their true colors at the closing minutes of the first half as Gerard Moreno’s thumping left-footed volley hit the crossbar and bounced down off the underside of the bar and Chelsea cleared the danger. But this did not stop the yellow submarine from making valiant efforts at the goal. Timo Werner’s wastefulness had been an issue for Chelsea since last season and the chances that otherwise slipped away could have confirmed the title for them much early on. As the final minutes almost crept in Mason Mount and Jorginho had come on to provide the extra momentum that was needed to seal the deal for them but Unai Emery’s army’s direct approach and intricate attack buildups were being recognized as Chelsea faltered to stand down their fort.

Mario Gasper’s interception had led to Gerard Moreno and Dia playing one-two among themselves as the Senegalese international’s clever back-heel was curled up with a right-footed finish into the corner of the net at the 73rd minute brought Villarreal back to the driver’s seat.

Moreno’s goal

In the recent past, almost all the finale’s be it the UEFA EURO 2020 or the Olympic gold match had stretched up to extra-time which could seem to be unnecessary but that is suggestive that the teams that reach the final cancel each other’s efforts and prefer to roll the dice for a series of situations that requires luck to side with you. Nonetheless, this time was no exception.

 Kepa Arrizabalaga the second-choice goalkeeper who had nullified the valiant efforts by Unai Emery’s Villarreal and crashed it almost down to zero could never have imagined how his evening got sensationalized. Yes, you read it right Thomas Tuchel substituted Mendy to bring Kepa on for the penalties and he did not fail his boss this time.

Mendy being replaced by Kepa

“We needed to do what was good for the team,” shrugged Tuchel. “Kepa has the better percentages at saving penalties.” In other words, numbers don’t lie.

The delight of Tuchel

If this is the case then let me remind you that Villarreal took the title away from Manchester United after a lengthy series of eleven penalties and David De Gea’s miss. But now the tables had turned as Raul Albiol who had previously scored on a penalty in the Europa League final missed his opportunity in the sudden-death situation and the tale was written for Chelsea in the light of that platinum clad trophy. This is what football is all about, sometimes you get only one chance to turn it all around, and sometimes a thousand chances can seem less compare to the prize at stake.

The save that confirmed the title

Villarreal had manifested how they wanted to win something big for the European glory but their insatiable spirit showed that this team has much more to offer this season in La Liga with promising new talents on the bench and a hope of getting the Spanish glory back beside their name. Who knows what will happen at the end of the season, the whole image could hit a low but all this reminded me of how far competitive football had come in terms of statistics and technologies with Kepa’s change based on statistics and mere numbers. All this was the proof that Chelsea has not yet finished writing their glory saga not only for this season but for some more seasons to come.

The exasperation of loss

Team News:

Chelsea: Mendy; Zouma, Chalobah, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Havertz; Werner. Subs: Kepa, Christensen, Jorginho, Thiago Silva, Abraham, Pulišić, Loftus-Cheek, Mount, Chilwell, James, Azpilicueta, Emerson.

Villarreal: Sergio Asenjo; Foyth, Albiol, Pau Torres, Pedraza; Trigueros, Capoue, Alberto Moreno; Pino, Gerard Moreno, Dia. Subs: Rulli, Mario Gaspar, Morlanes, Alcácer, Iborra, Estupiñán, Jorge Cuenca, Raba, Peña, Mandi, Moi Gómez, Niño.

Referee: Sergeo Karasev (Russia).

Player of the Match: Gerard Moreno.

Gerard Moreno with the Player of the Match award