Saturday 19th May, 2012. A Didier Drogba penalty seals a penalty shoot-out win against Bayern and Chelsea's first ever Champions League trophy, but was the game in Munich a victory for the Premier League or a sign of its regression in recent seasons?
Roberto Di Matteo's side were completely outgunned over 120 minutes, mustering just nine shots compared to their opponent's 43, but it was Chelsea's name on the trophy. The Blues were the fifth English club to win European football's elite domestic competition, with no other nation represented by more than three winning sides.
While the vast majority would agree that the Londoners had enjoyed more than their share of fortune on the way to success, Chelsea were the only English side to reach the quarter-finals.
Now halfway through the 2012/13 competition, the eventuality that the Premier League may have to bank on one club reaching the latter stages is becoming increasingly likely once again, with just United and Arsenal somewhat unconvincingly progressing.
While the reigning champions exit at the group stage may have cost Di Matteo his job despite an eventual 10-point haul, his compatriot in Manchester is hanging on for dear life after City's performance in the group stages heralded no wins and just three points.
Mancini's side's most recent failing came in Dortmund, as the Bundesliga title holders went a long way to proving that the gulf in class between Germany's elite league and that in England has eroded.
The hosts started the game with no fewer than six first team regulars rested from the kick-off, yet still managed to produce a display that was worthy of more than the one-goal margin with which they won. Jurgen Klopp's side restricted the visitors, who themselves had left out the likes of Aguero and Toure, to just six shots at goal all game, with the English champions blunted by Dortmund's pressing style.
Edin Dzeko didn't do much to dispel theories that he is no more than an impact sub nowadays, despite producing two-thirds of City's meagre shots tally on the night, while Dortmund's fringe players stepped up to the plate. Allowing their opponents to retain possession, as they often do, in the middle third, Dortmund had inferior figures for both possession (48% to 52%) and pass accuracy (83% to 88%).
However, their speed in using the ball and getting it forward was far more impressive and brought about a far superior tally of 15 shots. Dortmund's trend in conceding possession, however, is nothing new. Only two sides have averaged less than the German outfit's 39.8% (Celtic and Cluj) but they rank as high as 11th of the 32 sides for shots per game, with 14.8.
In winning the group of death and dropping just four points from a possible 18 their progress to the knockout stages is undoubtedly the most impressive, with wins against the champions from La Liga, Premier League and Eredivisie. Nevertheless, in their native Germany, Dortmund have fallen off the electrifying pace set by Bayern Munich, and Jupp Heynckes' side also breezed through the group stages, albeit against significantly weaker opposition.
Topping Group F with 13 points, a look at the WhoScored.com Champions League team statistics page shows Bayern rank second for possession in the group stages, only behind Barcelona, with 61%, and third for pass accuracy, with 88.2%. While the German superpower's triumph in the group was expected, the Bundesliga's third placed team from last season, Schalke, usurped the side in the equivalent position from the Premier League, winning Group B ahead of Arsenal.
Huub Stevens' side picked up an impressive 0-2 victory at the Emirates Stadium having restricted their opponents to just five shots, of which only one tested keeper Lars Unnerstall. Indeed, Arsene Wenger's side's lack of chance creation has been a persistent problem in Europe despite their progression, with only Nordsjaellend firing off fewer shots in the group stages than Arsenal's 47.
The Gunners mustered just eight in the reverse fixture, compared to Schalke's 22. However, the north Londoners gained a two-goal lead at the Veltins-Arena, but were quickly on the back foot as Schalke dominated possession, with 57%. The German outfit also recorded a better pass accuracy (84% to 79%), won more corners (10 to 3), more dribbles (6 to 0) and more tackles (22 to 13) in a comprehensive display.
The table below shows the average points picked up by teams from nations represented by more than one club and is evidence that the Bundesliga, having struggled to compete with the domestic clubs of Spain, England and Italy in the past, is well and truly back on track. Whether the Premier League must now play catch up seems the sensible question based on performances in the Champions League thus far.
*All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com