Manchester United of course won the competition in dramatic style during the greatest season in their history.
Liverpool had been ridiculously successful in Europe before their absence – which is certain to end this season – yet it is Chelsea out of all English sides who will tell you they have the greatest affinity with the trophy.
Before winning in Munich, Chelsea fans and their owner had somewhat of an obsession with winning the Champions League. Nearly misses, referees, ghost goals, Robert Huth up top – you name it, the Blues suffered it.
That is why ahead of the game against Paris Saint Germain, the players and the fans felt anything was possible. Literally.
Chelsea certainly know how to pull it off in Europe – and they did yet again in the most dramatic fashion.
They leave it late, they cause anguish like no other club – but being in Friday’s draw will mean more to Blues fans than nearly any other club in that pot, bar Atletico Madrid, come 11am.
Jose Mourinho has never lost a Champions League quarter final – but has never won the trophy with Chelsea. That is of course something that will be rectified during his second spell with the Blues make no mistake. The Special One is now in it for the long haul – but even he may have doubted his little horse could get this far so soon into his spell at the club.
Of course, Jose 1.0 in 2004/05 made the semi-finals and suffered hurt so deep that William Gallas sobbed on the field and that Garcia ‘goal’ has never been forgotten by supporters. Not that Jose would let them even if they tried!
That side was arguably far better than the one he has currently – but his two Champions League wins as a coach came with Porto and Inter Milan – with neither sides being the best in the competition. In Porto’s case by far.
Triumph eluded him at Real Madrid, who are hell bent on delivering La Decima this season, and anyone who doubted how much Cristiano Ronaldo cared only needed to look at the player last night after he saw his side cut it close.
It does seem to be the season for reunions – Jose of course came back to Chelsea to kick it all off, then we saw Didier back to the Bridge, along with Mourinho reuniting with Sneijder. The next round saw Alex come back to Chelsea and indeed Ibra reunite with Mourinho.
What the semi-final draw will contain is anyone’s guess, but Jose may well relish a chance to go back to the Bernabeu – where ironically, he won the Champions League with Inter Milan – arguably his biggest success at the ground despite managing Los Blancos after that. Is there a better way to stick two fingers up at Iker Casillas and Marca than knocking them out of the competition they hold so dear?
Atleti meanwhile were the side who beat Mourinho in the Copa del Rey final and saw him sent to the stands – in his own stadium – and he has certainly not forgotten that.
Pep Guardiola and Mourinho have a long history and have already faced off once this season in the Super Cup – and Bayern Munich are of course a side Chelsea will never forget playing. Ever.
Mourinho will tell you that Chelsea are the team everyone wants to draw en route to the final in Lisbon – and without him as manager, they probably would. With Mourinho at the helm? No way, Jose.
They love the big occasions and have a manager who loves them even more. It said everything you needed to know that Mourinho’s celebration – which he of course played down as a tactical advice session – was the thing everyone wanted to talk about post match. Not the Ba goal or the fact that his side were into the next round.
A special trophy, which provides special nights for the most special of them all.
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