In the first nine years of Roman Abramovich’s ownership, from 2003 to 2012, Chelsea reached the semifinals of the Champions League six times, and the finals twice, winning once. However, since that day in 2012 when Chelsea were crowned European Champions, the Blues have played just one semifinal (2013-14) and have missed out on the Champions League altogether in two of the last three seasons — a most obvious sign of Chelsea’s relative decline.
That downwards trajectory is not lost on some of the longer-serving members of the squad, including David Luiz, who’s the only player still playing regularly for the club from that famous May 19th victory. The veteran centre back, who played through that final and scored one of the penalties in the shootout practically on one leg, misses the Champions League anthem and believes, like many do, that Chelsea must compete regularly in Europe’s premier club competition.
“It is important for our club. We are a big club and big clubs want to play in the Champions League.
“I have missed it. It’s great to be there, to try to play against the best teams in the world, the best players, the best coaches. Everybody has been missing that.
“I watch a lot of football, but when the Champions League anthem comes on I miss it. It’s hard, but we have to be humble and understand that we didn’t do the job one year ago and we had to pay the consequences. We have to be mature enough to understand that.”
Sunday’s draw against Manchester United could turn out to be a very important point in our quest to get back into the Champions League, strengthening our hold on fourth place in the Premier League. It’s certainly a point gained on Arsenal, with Chelsea now holding a two-point advantage over the fifth-placed Gunners with two games left in the season.
“Was the draw at United a bit step to making the top four? Yes. It is an important point for Chelsea. But we still have to think game by game.
The race for the top-four has become a bit of a running joke, as none of Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have managed to step up to take advantage of the other teams dropping points at nearly every turn.
Points won in the last 3 games by the top 2: Manchester City 9... Liverpool 9. 18 between them in 6 games.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 28, 2019
Points won in the last 3 games by the teams going for the top 4: Spurs 3...Chelsea 2...Manchester United 1... Arsenal 0. Just 6 between them in 12 games. ♂️
David Luiz believes that is more down to the “lower table” opponents refusing to bow down to the top six teams and believes the coaching personnel and quality of players is more evenly distributed throughout the league than ever.
“The last few games for everybody has been tough. People have started to joke that no-one wants to be in the top four because everyone is losing points.
“It’s not easy for anybody. We saw Manchester City fighting for the title at Burnley and it was difficult for them until the end. Sometimes people forget to respect the other sides, they train every day, they have a philosophy, have great players, great coaches, great fans and they try to fight also.
— David Luiz; source: Evening Standard
Chelsea’s last two fixtures include a home game against Watford before a visit to Leicester City on the final matchday that could decide whether Chelsea will listen to the Champions League or the Europa League anthem next season.