Tag Archives: bavaria

Arsene Wenger urges Arsenal players to complete the impossible dream by defeating Bayern Munich

Dream the impossible: Wenger urges players to defy the odds and complete the stunning turnaround in Munich

By
Jim Van Wijk, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

19:02 GMT, 12 March 2013

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UPDATED:

19:16 GMT, 12 March 2013

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged his players to produce a performance which will define their careers and knock Bayern Munich out of the Champions League against the odds tomorrow night.

The runaway Bundesliga leaders look all set to take their place in the quarter-finals having delivered a European masterclass in their 3-1 victory in north London three weeks ago.

Bayern's home defensive record is formidable and have not conceded three since losing to Inter Milan two years ago, while this season they have let in only 10 goals in 25 Bundesliga matches.

Prepared for battle: Arsene Wenger looks ready to take on the media during his press conference in Munich

Prepared for battle: Arsene Wenger looks ready to take on the media during his press conference in Munich

Still hopeful: Despite having to recover from their 3-1 first-leg defeat, Wenger believes his team still stand a chance of progressing tomorrow

Still hopeful: Despite having to recover from their 3-1 first-leg defeat, Wenger believes his team still stand a chance of progressing tomorrow

Despite his side having travelled to Bavaria without injured England midfielder Jack Wilshere, set for around three weeks out because of an ankle problem, and first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny rested, Wenger insists now is the perfect moment for his team to return all his belief with what would go down as one of the greatest European comebacks.

'I am convinced that if this team can find a big game, with a big win, you will see a completely different animal. This season we have fought to find that in the big games and we have another opportunity tomorrow night and I hope the team takes this chance,' Wenger said at the Allianz Arena tonight.

Chilling effect: Wenger is without injured star man Wilshere

Chilling effect: Wenger is without injured star man Wilshere for the trip to Germany

'I have a great respect for this team and its attitude and they have not been rewarded yet. It is important for the end to our season that we do it tomorrow.'

Despite everything seemingly stacked against them, Wenger insists it is not a case of Mission: Impossible.

He said: 'It is a difficult task, we know that, but we think it is not impossible.

Stepping in: Aaron Ramsey (second left) is more likely to start in Wilshere's absence

Stepping in: Aaron Ramsey (second left) is more likely to start in Wilshere's absence

'The only way to make it possible is to have a real go and play at our best tomorrow night, that is what we will do.

'I am confident we will be completely focused and up for it, and give it our best shot.

Keeping watch: Wenger (centre) during training before tomorrow's crunch clash

Keeping watch: Wenger (centre) during training before tomorrow's crunch clash

'Football is football – everything is possible.'

Chelsea must appoint Roberto Di Matteo – Martin Samuel

Tell fate to take a hike, Roman, and just give Di Matteo the job

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UPDATED:

21:27 GMT, 20 May 2012

To begin with, stuff destiny. If it was just about fate, or your name being on the cup, or blue angels and all the other supernatural guff that has accompanied Chelsea through Europe this season, then anybody could have been Chelsea’s manager in Munich on Saturday. Even Andre Villas-Boas.

Why has Roman Abramovich spent so much time, and money, hiring and firing managers, if all it needed was for the planets to align and Chelsea would win the Champions League Contrary to some highly bizarre notions, it was not their turn; it is never anybody’s turn.

There are colourful narratives, invariably en route to a final, and we imbue them with mystical force, as if whatever Chelsea did, Michel Platini would be handing them a trophy on May 19. To think that, however, entirely undervalues the contribution of one man: Roberto Di Matteo.

Here to stay Roberto Di Matteo must wait to hear if he is to be kept on as Chelsea boss

Here to stay Roberto Di Matteo must wait to hear if he is to be kept on as Chelsea boss

Everyone was talking destiny after the game. Even Gary Neville, the arch realist, was claiming it was meant to be. What about Bayern, then What about Dahoam Finale Uli Hoeness, the president, has spent several years’ frantic politicking to deliver the dream of Germany’s greatest club playing for the greatest prize in club football in Bavaria before the Rot-Weiss Inferno. Doesn’t that have an air of destiny about it, too

Did two destinies collide and Chelsea’s force was stronger What does that make Di Matteo Yoda He is not as quote-worthy as the Jedi master, no doubt of that. Di Matteo has spent his months as Chelsea’s interim manager giving so little away that ranks of journalists now know what it is like to play against one of his teams: all that possession and probing, but it still gets you nowhere. Di Matteo would not even say that he wanted the job on Saturday night. So in place of insight is this outpouring of superstition. Destiny Pah.

So does Di Matteo want the job Of course he wants the job. That’s why he keeps quiet. He knows Abramovich does not care for idle chatter. The owner gives nothing away, so neither does Di Matteo.

Decision time: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has finally got his his hands on the Champions League

Decision time: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has finally got his his hands on the Champions League

He does not hang himself with foolish remarks, and, by doing so, all Abramovich has to work with are his results. And what results. So magnificent was Chelsea’s achievement that it is almost forgotten that Di Matteo has already landed the FA Cup. If not the Double — which Carlo Ancelotti achieved straight off the bat — he has delivered a double, and a hugely impressive one. Di Matteo did not get lucky in Munich; he got organised, got clever, got brave and got exceptional performances from players who looked flat and demotivated until he took charge.

Saving a penalty isn’t luck if a man has studied every one Bayern have taken since 2007, as Petr Cech did; and becoming champions of Europe isn’t luck if a manager is bold enough to show faith in a 22-year-old left back, Ryan Bertrand, who hasn’t played a minute of European football until the 2012 Champions League final.

Nor is it luck to have looked the 50million striker in the eye and told him that, in a team of 11, he is not among the first five penalty takers. Can you imagine the consequence if Fer-nando Torres had been denied his moment from 12 yards, and Chelsea had lost, Di Matteo having preferred five others, including two defenders Avram Grant lasted roughly 24 hours after defeat on penalties by Manchester United in Moscow; Di Matteo might not have survived as long as that.

Rallying the troops: Di Matteo delivers a rousing speech to his players before extra time in Munich

Rallying the troops: Di Matteo delivers a rousing speech to his players before extra time in Munich

It showed an incredible amount of steel and, as the result is all in football, proved the right call, too. We do not know whether Torres would have scored, but enough of Di Matteo’s selections did to beat the Germans on penalties in their own backyard. No further debate is necessary.

Chelsea paid 16m for John Mikel Obi — including 12m compensation to Manchester United — and few have ever been able to see why. Yet under Di Matteo, who, like his coach Eddie Newton, often played a holding role, he has thrived.

He was arguably Chelsea’s best player in Munich; quick feet, quick wits, moving the ball on with the wonderful combination of calm and urgency that set Claude Makelele apart. Di Matteo has turned Mikel into Makelele in a matter of months, just as he has turned Gary Cahill into the next John Terry, and David Luiz into a defender who no longer attracts guffaws.

This was not destined to happen. No higher force arrived to sprinkle fairy dust over Chelsea’s Cobham training facility. Ashley Cole is once more being talked of as the best left back in the world; in Villas-Boas’s final European game in charge — away to Napoli, a 3-1 defeat — Cole did not make the starting line-up. Right back Jose Bosingwa played in his place; he wasn’t performing as he has done under Di Matteo, either. Nobody was.

Kings of Europe: Chelsea celebrate their Champions League triumph in Munich

Kings of Europe: Chelsea celebrate their Champions League triumph in Munich

That is the cynical view. The older players resented Villas-Boas’s attempts to curb their power and did not perform for him; then Di Matteo came along and let them do as they pleased, and order was restored.

Yet what of the younger ones, in which Villas-Boas did have faith What of Luiz and Bosingwa and Mikel Their performances have improved hugely, too. So this isn’t about spite. Chelsea’s success is not a dressing-room attempt to prove Villas-Boas wrong; it is the difference between a manager who alienates and one who motivates.

The messages from family members shown to the players in the build-up to the game was another managerial masterstroke. Nobody goes out and collects hours of video footage, in secret, by luck. Di Matteo knew how to inspire his team —and the proof was in the performance. He was right again.

If Chelsea’s executive strategies were not so random there would not even be a doubt. Real Madrid won the European Cup in 1998 and sacked Jupp Heynckes, is the counter- argument, the alleged proof that there is a bigger picture than one triumph. Yes they did, and do you know why people remember it Because it was stupid.

Home comforts: Chelsea paraded the Champions League trophy in London on Sunday

Home comforts: Chelsea paraded the Champions League trophy in London on Sunday

They did not win the European Cup the next year, or La Liga, either. They then went out and spent an absolute fortune on the famous galacticos team, won the Champions League twice in three years — 2000 and 2002 —and have not been back to a final since. Madrid are not an example of how to run a football club. Given all their advantages, they underachieve.

Chelsea, under Di Matteo, have done the opposite. They were destined for nothing this season and he turned that round. He deserves the chance to take the club on, to play some games without his back to the wall — and the 5-1 FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham, plus the semi-final monstering of Liverpool for 60 minutes suggests there is better to come.

He has captured hearts, minds and two trophies that looked beyond this team until he arrived. Tell fate to take a hike, Roman, and give the man the job.