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Munich memories

There isn’t much shared ground between Chelsea and Malmo, but both clubs have one thing in common when it comes to European Cup finals...

As we prepare to resume our Europa League campaign with our first trip to Sweden in more than 20 years, any links between two sides both nicknamed the Blues are few and far between.

Even the number of Swedish players to represent us, in stark contrast to the other Scandinavian nations, isn’t worth writing home about – for those interested, there is Magnus Hedman, the goalkeeper some may remember from his time with Coventry City, who had a brief spell as our third (or possibly even fourth) choice keeper during the 2006/07 season.

However, both clubs have appeared in the final of Europe’s premier club competition when it has been held in Munich, which means 50 per cent of the finals played in the German city have featured either of us.

Malmo reached their only European Cup final in 1979, when they came up against Brian Clough’s famous Nottingham Forest side which came up from the Second Division to conquer the continent in no time at all.

The Swedish side were also managed by an Englishman, Bob Houghton, who is one of the most revered tacticians in their history along with another coach from these shores who is perhaps a little more familiar to our readers: Roy Hodgson.

Despite enjoying an incredible campaign to reach the final of the competition, Clough’s men proved to be a step too far for Malmo and they succumbed to a goal from Trevor Francis which was set up by the Scottish wing wizard, John Robertson.

So, while the Swedish side will have mixed feelings about their famous night in Munich, the same certainly cannot be said for Chelsea. Our visit in 2012 will forever remain one of the greatest occasions in the club’s history, as we finally got our hands on the most famous trophy in European club football.

With suspension robbing Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo of four key players, the Italian handed Ryan Bertrand his first appearance in Europe's premier club competition on the biggest stage of them all. But the youngster, much like his team-mates, struggled to make an impact as Bayern took control of the game in their home stadium.

Thomas Muller had spurned a good chance to open the scoring with his head, but he wasn't to be denied for a second time when Toni Kroos sent a teasing cross towards the back stick, as the German international powered a header into the ground and past Cech.

Di Matteo responded by sending on Fernando Torres and the Spaniard won a corner – our first of the game – that Juan Mata stepped up to take. The delivery was perfect, straight onto the head of Didier Drogba who met it crisply and sent the ball rocketing into the top corner of the net via Manuel Neuer's palm. Parity once again – and extra-time beckoned...

Just five minutes had been played of the additional half hour when Drogba mis-timed a tackle on Ribery inside his own box, giving former Blues winger Arjen Robben the chance to put his side ahead once again from the penalty spot. Up stepped the Dutchman, but Cech guessed right to parry his powerful spot-kick before clutching it to his chest at the second attempt.

And so, after 120 minutes of a gruelling contest had come to an end, it came down to penalties – just as it had in Moscow four years earlier. Mata missed for the Blues and by the time Frank Lampard stepped up to take our third we were 3-1 down and facing heartache once again.

But Lamps converted and Cech superbly denied Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger, giving Drogba the chance to win it. Was there ever any doubt? Chelsea, champions of Europe – our dream had become reality. And Munich will always have a special place in the hearts of Blues fans because of it...

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