After the return of the 3-4-3 on Saturday, Frank Lampard had another Antonio Conte throwback up his sleeve in his pre-match press conference yesterday.
With the prospect of ball-hogs Bayern Munich taking the pitch at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, Lampard raised the possibility of Chelsea having to “suffer” without the ball — which, as we might remember (fondly or otherwise), is a lovely bit of Conte-ism meaning drop deep, stay compact, block off, close down, and look for counters.
“Bayern Munich are an incredible side with the ball. If we have to suffer without the ball we have to suffer, so that’s our job over these next two games.”
Should Chelsea actually concede possession to the visitors tonight, it would certainly be a rarity this season.
In 38 games so far, Lampard’s Blues have been out-passed by volume (which is often reported as possession) only three times: Liverpool in the Super Cup, Ajax in Amsterdam, and this past weekend, Spurs at the Bridge. Up 2-0 in the second half, Chelsea were more than happy to let Mourinho’s Spurs pass the ball around inertly for minutes at a time.
Or were we already preparing for tonight, killing two birds with one stone?
“The performance versus Tottenham was first class off the ball, the team is feeling strong and feeling focused but we have to deliver.
“My job is to look at the opponent and see if we can find weaknesses there. I understand if people call us the underdog because the Bayern team is so strong and they have so much experience, but the underdog is there to change things around. We all love an underdog story and they are some of the best stories in sport. I am focused on what it is going to take to win these two matches [against Bayern].”
Whether we play on the front foot or sit back in a more reactive stance, the suffering will probably be real. Regardless of tactics, we’ll have to be at our very best to beat the German champions.
“A big part of my job tomorrow is to explain to the players that over two legs we need to be at our maximum. We need every detail, every box ticked in both games.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
These are the sorts of games where heroes are made. Lest there be suffering.