Benfica v Chelsea, Europa League Final: 'It's the same story – let's hope for the same end,' says Petr Cech ahead of Benfica clash
Chelsea looking to claim second European title in as many years
Wednesday 15 May 2013
Almost one year on from that magical night in Munich, Petr Cech is hoping for a repeat in Amsterdam. The veteran goalkeeper was a hero in the Allianz Arena, saving one penalty in extra time and two in the shoot-out to make Chelsea European champions.
Cech said that was a "special" night and was particularly notable because it came just months after Chelsea changed their manager mid-season, replacing Andre Villas-Boas with Roberto Di Matteo. This season, Di Matteo was sacked and Rafael Benitez installed in November, and Cech hopes that Chelsea can triumph over adversity again.
"It was a fantastic story and I think that is why it ended the way it ended," Cech remembered. "I think it was just meant to be. It was really an incredible story but I think winning back-to-back European trophies will be a great story too, in almost the same circumstances in having to change the manager in the course of the season again. Hopefully, it will be the same ending."
Cech's career has been very successful but last year's final was the peak of it. "So far it is a highlight of my career because it is a Champions League final," he said. "After all the success I have had with the club, it was special, having lost the final in 2008. Sometimes you don't get a second chance. We got a second chance and we grabbed it."
Against Bayern Munich last season, Cech saved from former team-mate Arjen Robben in extra time before stopping kicks from Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the shoot-out. He said he revels in the pressure of a shoot-out.
"It is a great challenge and you are in the centre of the challenge, because obviously you are in the goal and you face all the penalties," Cech said. "As a player it is a huge challenge for the one who takes the penalty and the goalkeeper, and I like situations like that. But hopefully we will avoid another drama!"
His opposite number for Bayern, Manuel Neuer, scored against Cech last year and the Chelsea goalkeeper would have no hesitation in taking a penalty if required tomorrow night.
"I would if one day the manager came to me and asked me to take one. You see in the history of the game how many great players have missed a penalty, if you want another one you can have another one. You are not in bad company."
Cech's medal cabinet is very well-stocked but he would love the chance to add something new.
"It is great to be involved in the final. It is the first time we have played in the competition, we have reached the final, played away, so it is a positive thing.
"The Europa League is a prestigious competition for many countries and many teams and this club has never won it because it is the first time we have played in the competition, so it would be great to add that trophy to Stamford Bridge."
But, given the choice, he would rather not be back again next year, instead preferring a return to the Champions League. "It is not something you say with a lack of respect, but I hope it is not going to happen."
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