‘We do not get something from being champions, we begin from zero,’ Cesar Azpilicueta insisted, all of his years of expertise on show. It has not been the smoothest of roads for him, although, and he’s sensible sufficient not to take success as a right.
Chelsea are the Champions League holders and open their title defence this night in opposition to Zenit St Petersburg. They are the overwhelming favourites to choose up a victory, however complacency has been a killer for them in the previous.
Indeed, Azpilicueta has tasted the agony and humiliation of an early knockout, having been in the group when the membership adopted up their excellent 2012 success in opposition to Bayern Munich with a bunch stage exit.
Roberto Di Matteo was sacked by Chelsea after their Champions League group stage knockout
Chelsea suffered a 3-0 defeat by Juventus, a outcome which had despatched the holders crashing out
‘I’m the just one from that group in the squad,’ Azpilicueta added. ‘I’ll attempt to clarify from this expertise so it would not occur once more.’ His team-mates, nonetheless on a excessive from last time period, would do properly to heed his warning.
It was removed from the fall of a large, however Chelsea’s failure to progress from a bunch made from Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk and Nordsjaelland proved as soon as once more that in soccer, you can’t take something as a right.
This is a mantra Thomas Tuchel, alongside his captain, Azpilicueta, will certainly be instilling into his gamers earlier than they step out at Stamford Bridge. He could even determine, in non-public or in any other case, to revisit these woes of 2012.
Thomas Tuchel gained the identical competitors last season and can need to retain it this time spherical
Cesar Azpilicueta (seen lifting the trophy) is the solely participant in the present squad from 2012
So how did their kingdom come crashing down all these years in the past? As with any plummet again down to the chilly, onerous floor, it began with a fairytale.
The man answerable for masterminding the Champions League glory, after which the one made to fell sufferer for the calamity that was sizzling on its heels, was Roberto Di Matteo, undoubtedly a membership legend after his time on the pitch.
He was positioned in cost as the supervisor on an interim foundation till the finish of the season after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas. Having performed for Chelsea between 1996-2002 and gained a number of trophies, the appointment was fashionable.
And his influence was immediate. Relatively fresh-faced, albeit with the pressures on the position barely creasing his brow, Di Matteo supplied a recent perspective, and managed to breathe new life into his gamers.
Di Matteo was handed the reins on a everlasting foundation after main the membership to European glory
In the finish, the membership would end 5 factors adrift of the high 4 spots at the finish of the marketing campaign, a place which might have sometimes seen them miss out on the Champions League. But this was no unusual caretaker stint.
Under Di Matteo, they secured a comeback victory over two legs in opposition to Napoli, dispatched Benfica after which Barcelona, and reached the last. There, they confronted Bayern Munich, and the relaxation, after the penalty drama, is historical past.
Chelsea additionally lifted the FA Cup only a fortnight earlier than their triumph in Munich, making certain the good finish to the season for their coach and his reinvigorated squad. The sky was the restrict, however every part would go wrong in the months that adopted.
Azpilicueta arrived that summer time, a low-key signing becoming a member of from Marseille in August and aged simply 22. He would witness, first-hand, the dramatic rise and fall story that soccer so typically throws up, and even wore the armband.
Then the caretaker, Di Matteo guided Chelsea to a penalty shootout win over Bayern Munich
He was an unused substitute for the group’s Champions League opener the following season, a 2-2 dwelling draw with Juventus. On paper, the outcome would have been removed from the worst case situation, however finally proved pricey.
Oscar, who had joined Azpilicueta by way of the door in the identical window, netted twice in the first half, and the ambiance inside the floor in west London was euphoric. At least till the guests’ pulsating comeback, that’s.
Juventus have been unbeaten in 42 Serie A fixtures, and demonstrated all their pedigree and expertise in Europe to take some extent. Arturo Vidal halved the deficit earlier than the break, and the leveller then got here late on from Fabio Quagliarella.
The slip-up marked solely the second time that Chelsea had let a two-goal cushion lead in the competitors slip away, and the ramifications of the dropped two factors finally noticed Di Matteo, by then the everlasting boss, axed.
Fabio Quagliarella tucked past Petr Cech to earn Juventus a share of the spoils at Chelsea
On October 2, Chelsea then travelled to Denmark to play minnows Nordsjaelland. The scoreline, a 4-0 drubbing, flattered the guests, in fact. The Danes even struck the woodwork, and threatened to earn a hard-fought level.
Juan Mata netted twice, with David Luiz scoring a free-kick and Ramires tapping in shortly earlier than time to add gloss on the outcome for Di Matteo. His group lived dangerously at factors, however finally romped to an important win.
That noticed them high of the group forward of their rivals for the high two locations, and marked a welcome success on the street, particularly in gentle of their failure to win away from dwelling in the group stage of the Champions League the season earlier than.
Towards the finish of the month, Chelsea then took on Shakhtar Donetsk in one other journey. In entrance of a baying crowd of simply over 50,000 in Ukraine, they fell to a 2-1 defeat, regardless of an 89th-minute comfort from the in-form Oscar.
Shakhtar Donetsk, spearheaded by Willian, beat Chelsea to depart them teetering on the brink
Alex Teixeira and Fernandinho, now at Manchester City, have been each on track. Shakhtar dominated the conflict, a fierce tussle between each groups, and will even have scored extra if not for the heroics of goalkeeper Petr Cech.
For Di Matteo, this match inflicted a painful double on him. It was his first defeat in the competitors, and in addition noticed Chelsea’s hopes of defending their crown endure a blow. Juventus’ failure to beat Nordsjaelland was their solely saving grace.
From agony to ecstasy. That was the feeling that unfold round a wild Stamford Bridge when Chelsea battled again from the brink to beat Shakhtar in a five-goal thriller, thanks to a 94th-minute winner from Victor Moses.
Without John Terry and Ashley Cole, Chelsea have been made to work valiantly for the three factors that noticed them clinging on to second place in the group, and they additionally capitalised on two errors from goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.
The temper at Stamford Bridge turned to esctasy when Victor Moses guided dwelling a late winner
Moses was mobbed by his team-mates, having netted a aim which stored Chelsea’s hopes alive
Fernando Torres and Oscar discovered the internet in the first half, earlier than Willian, who would later go on to be a part of Chelsea, equalised twice. That left the Blues staring down the barrel of the prospect of getting to beat Juventus in Turin.
But Moses’ strike, which got here after Shakhtar pressed ahead searching for a winner of their personal, saved the day for the dwelling group. At that time, Juventus sat narrowly behind them with one level much less, and have been respiratory down their neck.
And finally, the strain led to a collapse. Chelsea, in the formidable cauldron that’s the Allianz Stadium, wilted below the highlight, conceding thrice and being left on the brink of an embarrassing knockout.
Quagliarella struck once more in the reserve fixture, deflecting Andrea Pirlo’s effort past Cech, earlier than Arturo Vidal netted on the hour mark. To add insult to harm, Sebastian Giovinco beat Cech to the ball to rating from 30 yards.
John Terry (left) and Di Matteo (proper) have been unable to cease Chelsea from crashing out painfully
Di Matteo made the flight out dealing with fierce hypothesis over his future off the again of 4 Premier League matches with out a win, and the method of the loss, in addition to its damaging fallout, noticed Roman Abramovich select to pull the set off.
The permutations made for grim studying for Chelsea. Aware that even a victory in their last group sport in opposition to Nordsjaelland could not have been sufficient, the storm clouds gathered. Their future was now not in their personal arms.
And certain sufficient, the subsequent day, the information was confirmed.
Confirming Di Matteo’s dismissal simply months into his everlasting deal, an announcement from Chelsea insisted that the ‘current performances and outcomes haven’t been adequate’. They additionally mentioned that ‘the board felt a change was mandatory now’.
Di Matteo was sacked the day after his group misplaced in Turin, simply months into his everlasting spell
Chelsea grew to become the first Champions League holders to exit at the group stage of the event, too, and a brand new period below the tutelage of Rafael Benitez was ushered in. A divisive selection, it fell to him to maintain the membership on monitor.
In his defence, he might do no extra himself. He led his group to a convincing 6-1 rout over Nordsjaelland to spherical off their marketing campaign, however Juventus’ win in opposition to Shakhtar noticed them crash out seven months after the trophy.
Made to accept third place, Chelsea dropped into the Europa League. Two months on, they started their mission to win that competitors, and duly did so by beating Benfica in Amsterdam to clinch their personal trophy of the season.
Along the method, they handled Sparta Prague, Steaua Bucharest, Rubin Kazan and Basel, and triumphed in the last after Branislav Ivanovic netted in the 93rd minute. That proved to be Benitez’s last sport, earlier than Jose Mourinho’s return.
Rafael Benitez changed Di Matteo as the interim boss and went on to carry the Europe League
A rollercoaster journey, then, and one Azpilicueta, sitting in his chair throughout the press convention, appears decided to keep away from a repeat of. This group look and feel completely different, they are a profitable machine, however stranger upsets have occurred.
On his half, he has seen seven modifications of supervisor altogether at Chelsea, though Tuchel’s job is greater than protected after his exploits to this point. He will need to retain their title, and in addition lay down a classy early marker in opposition to Zenit St Petersburg.
Superstitious or not, he may also bear in mind that Juventus are in Chelsea’s group this season, however will need to have full confidence that his gamers are actual challengers once more.