Reality check: Chelsea’s far cry from Europe’s elite

Last night, Chelsea was ingloriously dumped out of the UEFA Champions League following a 4-1 drubbing by Bayern Munich at the round of 16 stage.

The Blues lost 7-1 on aggregate, their worst UCL aggregate defeat, raising further question marks for Frank Lampard’s men.

In recent memory, all the buzz surrounding Chelsea’s prominent toughness of character and dogged defending has completely faded away, a clear marker as to how far the 2012 UCL winners have drifted off Europe’s top creme.

Last night Frank Lampard’s men were second best in every department, with Bayern showing composure and class despite not throttling at full gear. While Frank Lampard may cite inexperience as the difference between the two teams, there was clear indication that the once tough as nails Chelsea team are now miles behind the pecking order.

Chelsea went into the game missing out a number of key players in the likes of club skipper, Cesar Azpilicueta as well as American sensation, Christian Pulisic, not to mention a huge lack of experience in Reece James, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham. The latter, who notched his 18th goal of the campaign in last night’s encounter, has 35 goals less than his opposite number, Robert Lewandowski, who clinched his 53th of the season.

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Speaking at a press conference after the game, Lampard duly noted the inexperience of his time and the time it will take for them to compete against Europe’s top elite

“For Reece, Callum, Tammy and Mason, but what I saw were young players there staying in the game, showing their quality and fighting until the end.

“N’Golo Kante, who played 50 per cent of our games this year, we missed him badly and he showed why he is the player he is with his level of performance in the game, particularly in the second half.

“So, the result isn’t nice and probably most people expected us to lose anyway but we went in with the absolute right intentions and we competed. Of course, we are not happy with the defeat, but when you match up the two teams of where we want to get to then it will take time.

“It won’t happen overnight; we know the position that we are in. To be congratulated a lot from the outside for getting into the top four shows the position we are in as Chelsea, I suppose. So we take a rest, which the players richly deserve and we look forward and we want to improve.”

Indeed, the future could be auspicious, following the signings of Hakeem Ziyech and Timo Werner, with negotiation ongoing for Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz. Again these youngsters, despite their talents, lack sufficient Champion League experience, a factor which could mar Chelsea’s chances again as they look to register a better impression in Europe next season.

In his closing statement, Lampard did say “we’ll be back”; it remains an interesting watch to see what impression the Englishman’s men can make next term in view of the grossly inexperienced youngsters Chelsea now have in their ranks.

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Edidiong-Ronny Ikpoto

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