When David Luiz left earlier this month, the last remaining player of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League final starting lineup was gone from the club. It was yet another sign of the end of an era.
But earlier this summer, two of those players returned in non-playing capacities to help begin the new era: Frank Lampard, the new head coach, and Petr Čech, the new technical
Thanks to last year’s third place finish (and Europa League triumph), Chelsea get to start this new era already with a Champions League campaign. It won’t be easy of course, though winning a knockout competition (provided we make it to the knockout rounds), is always easier than winning a 9-month slog in a league that also contains Manchester City and Liverpool.
Lampard, who’s experienced all the highs and all the lows of Chelsea’s Champions League campaigns for a decade and a half, knows this as well as anybody.
“It’s a big challenge for us as a team. We know that with the difficulties of the ban and where we’re at. But it shouldn’t take away from the great challenge that it is to try to do well in [the Champions League].
“I think the Premier League is so strong and that is clear when you have two teams. Manchester City are clearly absolutely a top team in world football. I think the English teams are strong at the moment and I hope that continues, because I think that’s great for us in England and the Premier League.”
“It’s important for us, it’s where we want to be. It gets tougher every year, coming third last year and winning the Europa League gets them that [elite] status. It is where we want to be.”
The Chaaaaampions anthem is back at the Bridge this season, and hopefully here to stay.
The financial and competitive benefits of being in the Champions League make it an absolute must-have for any top team in Europe, but it’s not just about participating. There are no trophies for participation. We’re in it to win it, as unlikely as that may or may not be.
“I had some great nights in it, great moments and great memories. Talking about the players, they want to play in it and show what we are about. It is nice that we are there. It means that we need to keep our league performances up now to be there next year and tackle it head on.
“It is the greatest club competition in football and I was lucky enough to win it once. I’m looking forward to working in it as a manager.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Goal
It may be a rebuilding year at Chelsea this season, in every sense of that cliché, but that shouldn’t preclude us from dreaming big and aiming high.