Chelsea are all set to face German giants Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in Germany for the 2011/2012 Champions League final on 19 May. There were not too many people who gave the Blues a chance to reach so far in the competition, particularly since, as is common knowledge, they were going through several crisis-ridden moments during the latter half of the season. The turning point, however, was the dismissal of Portuguese coach Andre Villas Boas, who was appointed in June 2011.
The London club did well enough during the group stages but started losing ground following questionable decisions by AVB. The nadir was the 1-3 reverse at the hands of Italian club Napoli, during the first leg of the Round of 16 tie.
However, after Villas-Boas' sacking following Chelsea's 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion in a Premier League game, Chelsea's overall form saw a drastic change from bad to good. Under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, the Blues shocked the world by making it to the semi-finals of the Champions league, where they toppled defending champions Barcelona.
The rest, as they say, could well be history.
IBTimes UK takes you through the Blues' road to the Champions League Final (Group Stages)
The Blues were placed alongside Spanish side Valencia, German oufits Bayer Leverkusen and Belgian club Genk in Group E of the league stages of the European competition. Initially it looked like Chelsea would progess through the knockout stages with ease. However, the Blues were made to work hard for their place in the Round of 16.
Match 1: Chelsea 2 - 0 Bayer Leverkusen
In their first game against German outfits Bayer Leverkusen, the Blues registered an easy 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge. Although the goals came late - in the 67th and 90th minutes, by David Luiz and Juan Mata respectively - the Blues dominated most of the game and were not troubled much by the German side.
Match 2: Valencia 1 - 1 Chelsea
The Blues' second game, against Spanish side Valencia, proved to be a little tougher as Chelsea only managed to get a draw in this game. Although they did take the lead, a penalty in the 87th minute proved enough for Roberto Soldado and Valencia to resuce a point at the Mestalla.
Match 3: Chelsea 5 - 0 Racing Genk
Chelsea's third game was against Racing Genk at Stamford Bridge and saw the Blues thump the Belgian side 5-0. The hosts scored early, with Raul Meireles finding the net after eight minutes. After that, Spanish striker Fernando Torres scored a quick brace - 11th and 27th minute - to triple the advantage. Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic and Ivorian striker Salomon Kalou sealed Genk's fate after they got their names on the score sheet, in the 42th and 72th minute respectively.
Match 4: Racing Genk 1 - 1 Chelsea
Chelsea's second meeting with Genk, at the Cristal Arena, did not prove to be as successful as the first, with Chelsea only managing a draw. However, Chelsea were to blame for the draw as they did not play as well as they did in the two teams' first meeting. They missed a lot of chances, including a penalty by Brazilian defender David Luiz. The goals came from Brazilian midfielder Ramires in the 26th minute and the equlaiser from Jelle Vossen after 61 minutes.
Match 5: Bayer Leverkusen 2 - 1 Chelsea
Chelsea's worst result of the Champions League Group stage came at the BayArena (Germany), where the Blues suffered their first Champions League defeat of the season at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen. The Blues, once again, took the lead, in the 48th minute thanks to Ivorian striker Didier Drogba. The German side equailsed through Eren Derdiyok and just when it seemed Chelsea were headed to their third draw, German defender Manuel Friedrich put his side in front - in the 90th minute.
Match 6: Chelsea 3 - 0 Valencia
With Chelsea in danger of crashing out of the Champions League from the group stages for the first time, this final game against Valencia was a must-win game for the Blues. As a result of this, Chelsea started attacking right from the beginning. Their hard work and determination bore early fruit - the hosts opened the scoring after just three minutes, via Drogba. Ramires doubled their lead after 22 minutes and Valencia's fate was sealed by Drogba, who scored his second after 76 minutes.