Roberto Di Matteo on Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League triumph, Ryan Bertrand’s begin & successful ‘in opposition to all odds’

For Chelsea, the 2012 Champions League triumph stays among the many most memorable days within the membership’s historical past.

With interim supervisor Roberto Di Matteo on the helm, the Blues overturned an combination defeat in opposition to Napoli, noticed off Benfica, survived a two-legged semi-final in opposition to Barcelona and dispatched of Bayern Munich on their very own turf within the ultimate to win the unlikeliest of trophies.

“We received it in opposition to all the percentages, stated Di Matteo, talking on BT Sport podcast James Richardson’s Kings of Europe. “We had a sense issues had been going our approach, however we completely labored arduous for it as properly. You do not get luck by sitting at house in your couch, you have to work to have that little bit of luck.”

Few might have forecasted the win for Chelsea simply months after they’d sacked supervisor Andre Villas-Boas. The determination was made to stay with Di Matteo in a caretaker function to regular the ship till the top of the season, when Chelsea had been planning to select themselves up and begin once more.

But for Di Matteo, it represented a novel alternative with little or no strain.

“I used to be excited,” he admitted. “I actually did not have a lot to lose. I used to be a caretaker supervisor, the worst case situation is that they ship you house. I simply tried to make one of the best out of the state of affairs.”

First up for Di Matteo was navigating the second leg of the final 16. Chelsea had fallen 3-1 to Napoli within the first leg beneath Villas-Boas and had been dealing with an uphill battle for which the Italian at all times remained constructive.

Roberto Di Matteo

Chelsea achieved one thing particular beneath Roberto Di Matteo / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Asked if he really believed Chelsea might win, Di Matteo insisted: “Of course! This is soccer, it is unpredictable. Why would not we predict we might flip over the outcome in opposition to Napoli? We scored an away aim as properly, so actually, we solely wanted to win 2-0. Of course we believed we might undergo to the subsequent spherical. We did it the arduous approach, however we did it!”

Benfica fell within the quarter-final, incomes Chelsea a two-legged semi-final in opposition to Pep Guardiola’s mighty Barcelona aspect. A shock 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge arrange an interesting return leg, during which Chelsea needed to cling on for his or her lives at occasions in opposition to the staff who had been many followers’ picks to win the competitors.

“I closed by eyes and hoped for one of the best!” recalled Di Matteo when requested how he made it by means of the second leg.

“We targeted on their weaknesses. Every staff has weaknesses. As nice because the staff was, they’d weaknesses as properly and one among them was [Dani] Alves as a right-back was pushing ahead fairly often and leaving area on the again. That’s how we scored the primary aim at Stamford Bridge.

“Going to the second leg, we had been defending properly and that is all you could possibly do in opposition to Barcelona. You put together the staff, you are not going to have a lot of the ball, it should be numerous work, proper to left and forwards to backwards. That’s how it’s in opposition to Barcelona.

“When JT [John Terry] bought despatched off I assumed for one second that we might be in hassle. But then I put Ramires from the left wing to right-back, [Jose] Bosingwa into centre-half and simply tried to get to half-time.

“They scored the second aim simply earlier than half-time, however the essential second, and so they will need to have relaxed somewhat bit as, a minute or two after that, we scored that important away aim, the attractive aim from Ramires.”

With Terry and Raul Meireles suspended and each Gary Cahill and David Luiz main harm dangers, Di Matteo’s fingers had been tied heading into the ultimate in opposition to Bayern, with very restricted choices when it got here to staff choice.

And but, few might consider their eyes when academy left-back Ryan Bertrand was handed his competitors debut within the ultimate, lining up as a winger forward of Ashley Cole.

“You ought to have seen his face!” Di Matteo revealed of Bertrand’s response to the information. “He was in shock. I feel he was comfortable.

“It was simply one of the best staff steadiness we might provide you with. He had a superb understanding with Ashley Cole so they might interchange positions. Ashley preferred to go ahead so we had Ryan to cowl him, and Ryan might do the identical.

“Over the week, I attempted two or three gamers in that place however they did not really feel proper. Ryan fitted in fairly naturally. It wasn’t a danger. Everybody stated it was a big gamble however, as a supervisor, you do not have a look at it as a big gamble as a result of it made numerous sense.”

To assist alleviate the nerves heading into the ultimate, Di Matteo and his staff created a video for his gamers of interviews with all their family members, bringing the group along with messages of assist from again house.

“It took weeks to arrange,” stated the Italian. “The day earlier than the sport, within the night, I feel they had been anticipating a tactical assembly however we produced this video as a result of we felt it was vital the gamers understood their family members had perception in them as properly.

“It took numerous pressure out of the gamers. I bear in mind how tense they had been once they got here into the assembly, however once they left, some cried. Some had their moms on the video, their children, their wives and so forth. I bear in mind leaving the room and the way the gamers had been a lot extra relaxed.”


Chelsea needed to work arduous defensively as soon as once more however noticed their again line breached by a late Thomas Muller header that almost all within the stadium anticipated to determine the sport.

Di Matteo admits to counting on the gamers to will their approach again into the match.

“As a supervisor, you’ll be able to solely affect the sport a lot,” he defined. “You do all of your preparations earlier than. Once the sport has began, there are little changes you may make however there is not an excessive amount of you are able to do. We had seven minutes to get an equaliser, and Didier Drogba got here up with it.

“We felt that, if it bought to penalties, we might win. The basic feeling was that, if we’re going to go to penalties, we would have a very good likelihood. The staff felt that as properly. That’s how we performed in extra-time, making an attempt to get there.”

Juan Mata missed Chelsea’s opening penalty however some heroics from goalkeeper Petr Cech left Drogba with the possibility to win the sport from the spot, and Di Matteo remembered his confidence watching the striker step as much as seal essentially the most well-known of victories for Chelsea.

“There’s no approach he will miss,” Di Matteo stated. “In actuality, all of us thought he was going to attain, he will write historical past.

“It was a ravishing ending.”

James Richardson’s Kings of Europe | BT Sport

Listen to the Roberto Di Matteo interview in full within the newest episode of ‘James Richardson’s Kings of Europe’ – the newest podcast from BT Sport Pods out at the moment throughout main podcast platforms.

Every Monday, journalist James Richardson interviews a Champions League winner from the previous 30 years, offering distinctive insights into a number of the greatest moments in European soccer historical past:

Read More: World News | Entertainment News | Celeb News

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