Once again, Chelsea walked away with a win at the highest level of club soccer while the other team was the one who took the ceremonial title of 'better.' Yes, Chelsea was out shot, out possessed, and out opportuned (not a word, but you know what we mean) by Bayern Munich, a continuation on a theme from their series with mighty Barcelona. Yet it was Chelsea taking that oddly long walk to what passes for a tribune at Allianz Arena as winners.
Chelsea aren't the first team to win while the commentators and pundits praise the losers. They're not the first team to get a result with an overly defensive strategy that the nominally 'better' team simply couldn't break down. What's at work when this happens is what we really mean by 'better.'
Bayern looked better for most of the initial 90 minutes against Chelsea. In the highlight clip world of soccer, they looked like a team that should have had no trouble scoring multiple goals. Instead, their single goal came late and they had relatively few answers once they scored. Instead, faced with several problems, they ended up on the back foot as the game continued to penalties. It was that penalty phase that really told the story. Once again, Bayern thought they'd done enough. They hadn't, and that ended up being the story.
Nothing really new here in the big picture sense. It's just another example of how one club appears to be doing everything right for large stretches of a game only for the other club to win. What makes it so pronounced in the current environment of world soccer is the insistence that the 'better' club is also the 'wronged' club. That's coming from commentators and pundits, not just fans. Those watching Saturday's game in the US got to hear about fate, destiny, the mercurial alignment of unknowable things pushing to Chelsea winning a shiny trophy. All of that is another way of saying that the better team got to take that lengthy walk up multiple staircases first. What's lost is the idea that 'better' might not mean controlling a game they weren't winning.
Corner Rating: (with 1 sticking to playing up this idea of the better team and 11 realizing that in contemporary soccer controlling the game without scoring enough goals to win it doesn't make a team better) 3.
Last Week's Corner: So does anybody have Bolton, Blackburn, and Wolverhampton out of the automatic promotion slots? Since last week's corner, Bolton has had an expected clear out, but they still have Stuart Holden and Tim Ream in the squad. That certainly isn't going to lower our 10 from last week, and we'll go ahead and make that a 10.5.
Two Weeks Ago Corner: That's when we talked about a reshuffling of the top leagues in Europe. We're going to go ahead and push our 9.5 up to a 10.