A stark wake-up call.
Chelsea have lost plenty of big games this season, home and away, but not once were the team outclassed the way they were in this one. Bayern’s technical ability, athleticism, game management and intensity were all on a different tier.
Bayern started the game fully aware of their status as Champions League favorites, and some slick associative play led Robert Lewandowski winning and converting a penalty in the 8th minute. Lewandowski then turned provider around 15 minutes later, with Ivan Perišič grabbing a goal after some clumsy play from Kovačić.
Callum Hudson-Odoi scored a peach of a goal that was ruled out because of a marginal and totally irrelevant offside call, akin to how Pulisic’s goal was disallowed against Liverpool in the Super Cup.
Tammy Abraham grabbed his 18th goal of the season after Neuer spilled the ball into his path but Bayern finished the job in the second half with plenty of vigour. Lewandowski grabbed himself another assist and another goal to wrap things up, and truth be told, they could have had more if they wanted to.
Full-time xG:— ExpectedChelsea (@ExpectedChelsea) August 8, 2020
Bayern 3.11 - Chelsea 1.08
We were taught a lesson by a team that is better than us in every conceivable way.
There is not a lot anyone associated with Chelsea could have done about these games. While Chelsea fought valiantly and more than held our own against Manchester City and Liverpool, Bayern gave the Blues no chance.
There is a lot to learn from these games, including in terms of squad building as well. It is worth remembering how Bayern were said to be in decline not too long ago, with the team suffering a 5-1 defeat to Frankfurt as recently as October and as low as 7th in the table in December. In football, narratives are dictated by results and results can change fast. A little bit of tactical creativity such as moving Alphonso Davies, a disappointing winger to full-back, can go a long way towards changing the dynamics of the team.
Chelsea are not perfect and Chelsea are not close to the best teams in the world. But we were not expected to be in the upper echelons this season and there is plenty of time to improve. Onwards and upwards.
Statistics from fbref.
Note: individual stats will not be presented for this game, quite simply because there was nothing of note.
The team picked for this game appeared stronger on paper than the one used in the first leg. The only major complaint was the continued sidelining of Fikayo Tomori. It is bizarre how he has fallen out of favour to the extent that he has, considering how poor some of his more senior teammates have been.
Lampard settled for the 4-2-3-1 used around Christmas period over the 4-3-3 we have become used to seeing. It would appear this move was designed to mask the unsuitability of Kovačić to a more attacking role. But Bayern’s superiority across the pitch meant they would have won regardless of the tactical system used.
Some moves, like starting Hudson-Odoi on the right when Mount was better equipped to track Davies, were harder to understand. Twelve months after convincing Hudson-Odoi to sign a new contract, it appears as if Lampard has not fully figured out how to use him yet.
Lampard did not make any substitutions other than swapping Abraham for Giroud around the 80th minute, and it would appear as if this move was designed to protect the young players more than anything else. While Lampard has been brave in giving academy players chances, it is worth keeping in mind just how badly Reece James’ confidence was affected after the first leg. To expose someone like Lewis Bate or Dynel Simeu to the sheer ferocity of Bayern could have had detrimental effects on their development.
None of the goals were directly on him but at the same time, he did not have a particularly good outing. There is not a lot more that can be expected from a 38-year-old backup goalkeeper who has found himself in the first XI by default.
As with some others in this XI, Caballero has no business playing for Chelsea in games of this magnitude. The fact Caballero has started crucial Champions League ties, a top 4 decider and a cup final reflects poorly on the club, not the player himself.
Did a better job tracking Davies than he did in the first leg. However, Bayern’s defensive structure meant he rarely got the chance to exhibit his crossing ability and he eventually resorted to taking potshots from long range.
Lampard praised James’ resilience to bounce back from a torrid showing in the first leg. This does not mean James was at his usually high levels today, but considering how he was eviscerated by Bayern’s left wing at Stamford Bridge, he held his own.
Was caught square by the speed of Bayern’s passing in the first half and this issue only continued as the game progressed. The problem with Christensen these days is not that he is “soft” or that he is scared to go into duels, it is the fact he cannot stay switched on throughout a game. Performances like the one against Manchester City suggest there is a special player inside him but he needs to become more consistent.
Was slightly better than Christensen but considering the overall performance, that says more about his partner in defence than it does about him. Bayern capitalized on his inability to judge the flight of balls and one such missed interception almost led to a goal. He will have better displays.
Was arguably the worst player on the pitch. He just could not cope with the speed of Bayern’s passing and while it is not his fault that he is at Chelsea, he looks out of his depth, to put it plainly. If he is to continue his career here, he needs to learn to defend space behind and ahead of him. Easier said than done.
Gave a good account of himself, something that cannot be said for many Chelsea players. He started the game pretty slowly and having not played in weeks, Bayern capitalized on his rustiness to force him into a few bad passes. He eventually got into his groove and returned to his usual buzzing self.
Kanté was moved into a more advanced role in the second half to press higher in the hope of creating turnovers in the final third. The move made sense since Chelsea were chasing the game and needed goals but it should not be viewed as a long-term solution.
This game showcased the worst of Kovačić — poor awareness, lack of footballing intelligence, limited field vision and slow decision-making. This is not to say Kovačić does not have a future at the club or anything along those lines; players with that sort of ball manipulation skills and technique will always find a role at big clubs.
While he has improved leaps and bounds this season on the aforementioned skills, to turn himself into a reliable option, the question is about him building on it and continuing further.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see where Kovačić fits in Lampard’s desired 4-3-3. His skillset means he is neither an “attacking 8” nor a defensive midfielder. He is superb at progressing the ball, but that alone does not make a world-class midfielder.
Having shown a lot of mental strength to bounce back from a dismal first season, the onus is on Kovačić to improve more and find himself a spot from where he can contribute.
As with Caballero and Emerson, the fact Barkley started a crucial knockout game for Chelsea reflects badly on the club. Barkley is a solid and robust player, capable of delivering some useful goals or assists and works very hard. But he’s not of Bayern’s level.
This is not to say he should be sold immediately either. Keeping him will not harm the team and he is a useful option to have off the bench. However, a team with serious ambitions does not rely on players like Barkley as much as Chelsea have this season.
The difference between him and his opposite number, Leon Goretzka, summed up the difference between the two teams. Chelsea started too many players who are, at best, only good enough to be squad options at serious clubs. One would think this issue will be fixed as the club signs better players.
Was given no time on the ball by Bayern’s press while Bayern played around his efforts to press with ease. He tried his hardest, but this game was a level above his capabilities at present. Considering his improvement curve, one would think he will be ready for this level in another 12 months.
Even without the goal, this was perhaps Tammy’s best performance since the restart. While he did not always get his runs quite right, he did a good job holding up play and bringing his teammates into action. The fact he was offside for Hudson-Odoi’s disallowed goal was a real shame but even otherwise, this was a solid performance.
The season has not been perfect for Tammy but all said and done, 18 non-penalty goals in his first season at a big club is a solid return. If it were not for a freak injury due to being pushed into the ad hoardings, he perhaps could have hit greater heights.
A mixed bag. He was initially asked to play on the right, a decision that made little sense. This meant he had to track the marauding Davies, though he did a reasonably good job of it.
Sometime later, he was swapped to the left flank and this is where his game improved. He got a few nice touches and capped it off with a stunning goal from distance. In a moment that summed up his season, the goal was chalked off because Tammy’s trailing leg was offside in a phase of play that did not matter to the goal itself.
Hudson-Odoi started the second half brightly but eventually ran out of gas, as you would expect from a player in his first start since February. His work ethic was certainly good and there were flashes of his quality; he now needs to build on them and contribute more next season.
Olivier Giroud (81st minute) - Nothing of note.