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Yearender soccer: Glory for Spain and Messi but problems never far away

Updated: 2012-12-25 16:33

Divine inspiration

Chelsea, who finished sixth in the Premier League in May, went on to Munich for the Champions League final.

Written off by virtually all of Europe's media before they played Barcelona, they again confounded the critics by beating Bayern Munich on penalties in their own stadium to become the first London club to lift the European Cup in its 57-year history.

Yearender soccer: Glory for Spain and Messi but problems never far away

Chelsea's Fernando Torres (R) celebrates his goal against Aston Villa with teammates Victor Moses (C) and Cesar Azpilicueta during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London, Dec 23, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Despite also winning the FA Cup, it was not a year without huge problems for the now deposed European champions, who are owned and run by the ruthless billionaire Roman Abramovich.

Six months after leading the club to the greatest night in their 107-year history, coach Roberto Di Matteo was cast aside by the Russian - just before Chelsea became the first defending champions to be eliminated from the group stage of the competition.

Their tilt at the world club title also ended in failure when they lost to Corinthians.

Their triumphs were further blemished by racist controversies involving captain John Terry - found guilty and banned by the English FA despite being cleared in an earlier court case - and unfounded allegations made by the club against Premier League and FIFA referee Mark Clattenburg.

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