Chelsea favourite on “Inter’s Drogba” and how Blues showed how to rattle Pep

Roberto Di Matteo knows a thing or two about winning unlikely Champions League finals. He was at the helm in 2012 as Chelsea won the most unlikely of all, beating the all-conquering Barcelona in the semi finals and then a dominant Bayern Munich side in their own house in the final.

So when he talks about these things we listen, and he’s been talking up the chances of his countrymen in the final tomorrow. He thinks that on loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku can play a significant role, and even compared him with a hero of the Blues’ 2012 triumph:

“We were not favourites [in 2012]; everyone knew it. However, the comparison with Inter is not entirely accurate because Manchester City don’t play at home and Simone Inzaghi can rely on a full team.

“Pep Guardiola has an incredible team, but Inter have a chance. My Chelsea side taught that with motivation everything is possible.

“Guardiola is more than a coach, he is a visionary, but he knows how competitive Italians are and fears us,” continued Di Matteo.

“Playing against him is challenging. He puts quality into every system and he changes when you don’t expect it. Before the 2012 semi final, we watched dozens of Barcelona’s games, trying to understand his weak points. We thought about every possible solution. The result was always the same: it was impossible they would have won. But then, what you put on paper changes in reality.

“We knew how to defend and we had a champion like Didier Drogba. Inzaghi also has an organised team. Of course, they must know they won’t keep the ball much and must sacrifice, hurting them every time they have a chance.”

We’ve seen players get in Guardiola’s heads before – after 2012, our other Champions League win came in 2021 when we were unfancied taking on Pep’s Manchester City team in the final. We beat him then, and while that wasn’t using a big central striker like Lukaku, if he had been in our squad then we imagine Thomas Tuchel would have dreamed up a way of using him.

Chelsea News