It felt like Chelsea needed a rather non-insignificant miracle in the Champions League last night to overcome Real Madrid last night and advance, and unfortunately, there would be no miracles of any kind this time, minor or major. We’ve seen two-goal deficits overturned on historic nights before, but this Chelsea team is very different from any Chelsea team we’ve seen over the past 20 years — and not necessarily in a good way.
But interim caretaker Frank Lampard saw more positives in this game, another goal-less defeat (0-2; 0-4 on aggregate), than in his previous three games in charge, and while that’s a very, very low bar to clear, that’s where the bar’s been lowered to this season.
“For 60 minutes [we] had big energy, big organisation in the team and caused Real Madrid a lot of problems. The only thing that was missing from our game was a goal. [...] One goal or two goals in that 60 minutes changes the face of it. We didn’t do that and at this level, they’re so clinical.”
“[But] I saw things today that I liked. [...] Individuals were performing at the level we want, the team was performing how we want. Brighton wasn’t at the level, I said that after the game and we can’t be a team that turns up here and doesn’t turn up there. It’s now competitive all the way through.”
Of course, the season’s now also effectively over, with seven games to go in the Premier League and Chelsea 10 points out of the last European place in seventh and 12 points clear of relegation. (There’s a massive glut of teams below us, and even if we lose all seven, only 4 times in the last 27 seasons has a team gone down with 39+ points; and only once since 2003, Birmingham City in 2011.)
So the motivation to perform must come from internal sources, be that the coaches, the suits, or most pertinently, the players themselves. The cliché is that you now play for personal and professional pride, and that’s what we need to see for the next month.
“For me, you have to be competitive with everything we do every day and to get into the team you have to show it. The team today is what I felt was the most form team individually, the fittest team in terms of what this game was going to ask of us and they showed it. They showed they can compete with Real Madrid, for sure, except from the final-third stuff.
“So I think it’s important to take each step. Each step for me and the players now is a day off tomorrow and back to work on Thursday and get working towards Brentford.
“People will make a lot about this season for Chelsea because we’ve had so much success and the reality is this club is going to be back. It will take work and a bit of a process. I think the fans appreciated this performance today. Maybe there have been times this season where they haven’t been feeling like that. So we have to latch on to that and pick up good results for the rest of the season and good performances for the rest of the season and then go again next year.
“[We] have to set those standards high again and I keep saying the same stuff but only the work of the group and having a clear direction from the group is the way. Let’s see it. In my next seven games, I will do my mini version of that. If the performance can rise, I think it will give the fans a good feeling and give us a good feeling in the summer and I think that’s as far as we can look.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Here’s to better days ahead.