Chelsea were crowned champions of Europe for the second time ever as Kai Havertz scored his first goal in the Champions League for the Blues in a 1-0 win over Manchester City.
In a highly entertaining tactical affair, Thomas Tuchel once again was able to get one over Pep Guardiola to make it three wins from three games between the two team in just six weeks.
Chelsea opted for a defensive set up as usual but the inclusion of Havertz over Ziyech, who had scored in both of the previous wins raised a few eyebrows before kick off. Not as much as Guardiola’s selection however, as he opted to play with no defensive midfielder or natural striker to flood the midfield areas.
That backfired though as Chelsea were able to press well and nullify them to just one shot on target over the entire game, while they themselves created several openings.
Timo Werner completely mishit the ball from seven yards out with a clear opening, before his touch let him down in the box and he could only roll a second effort into the hands of Ederson. Chelsea continued to threaten though and that’s when Mason Mount found a beautiful pass into Haverts in behind, who rounded Ederson before slotting into an empty net in the first half.
It was the first goal he had scored in the Champions League for Chelsea and just the ninth goal of his campaign in all competitions following a club record £72m move last summer.
It’s been a really tough season for the 21-year-old, who was the second youngest player only older than Phil Foden during the final. He’s clearly got the quality to become a top player, but he really struggled to make an impact in a more physical league where space and time on the ball was harder to come by.
Tuchel had started using him in a false nine position to get him that extra half a yard and his performances improved but they still weren’t glistening as they were with Leverkusen.
But in the one moment that he ran clear of Oleksandr Zinchenko and received Mount’s pass, then rounded Ederson and scored he has written himself into Chelsea folklore and immediately paid back his fee.
No matter what happens between now and whenever he eventually leaves Stamford Bridge, whether that’s next summer or in 10 years, he will go down as a Chelsea legend for winning them a second Champions League title.
It’s those moments that you spend big money on special talents for, because they can provide when it matters most. It’s why when a team fails the spending to build the team is brought to light, because you have to spend to bring quality and quality is expected to bring titles.
Werner still has some proving to do but he has been far more useful to Chelsea since Tuchel arrived, being used in a role that has seen him affect games even without scoring at the rate expected before his arrival.
But if he has another poor season, there will be question marks around him. That pressure has been lifted from Havertz, who will forever have the backing of fans and local media now.
As silly as that sounds it’s the truth. Bad performances won’t go unnoticed by fans, but if they eventually lead to him being displaced from the team or sold by the club he’ll go with applause and fantastic memories.
As for Tuchel, he is in the same boat. He’s now a Chelsea legend after less than six months at the club and will be rewarded with a new contract this summer to continue the good work he has done.
If you thought last summer was spectacular for Chelsea, wait till you see what they do this summer.