Chelsea will play their final game of the season on Saturday in the Champions League against Bayern Munich, unless they can overturn the huge 3-0 score line.
Munich lead from the first leg, with three away goals. The German champions are joint favourites to win the Champions League along with Manchester City.
Despite the three-goal deficit, the tie was even at half time in the first leg. Frank Lampard’s side were doing something right. Nullifying their wingers was the main aim. Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman got on the ball with their powerful running, eventually find Robert Lewandowski who usually finds the back of the net.
So where did it all go wrong at Stamford Bridge?
Switching off will cost you at the highest level
For 50 minutes the score was 0-0. Granted Bayern had most of the chances and looked more dangerous, but it was even.
Gnabry scored in the 51st and the 54th minute to almost kill the tie. Lampard’s side switched off and conceded two goals. You simply cannot do this against Europe’s elite.
The first goal was more unfortunate to be fair, but the build-up to the opener can be questioned.
Willy Caballero pumped it up field for Chelsea, but the failure to win the second ball meant the visitors went onto the front foot.
Cesar Azpilicueta slipped which allowed Gnabry to find space. He found Lewandowski who returned the ball to the German winger who slotted into the net from close range.
The second goal was similar, but this time, it started with Manuel Neuer. The goalkeeper cleared the danger into the middle of the park. Lewandowski won the header which found Gnabry in space. Once again, there was no challenge for the second ball.
The number 21 eventually received a through ball behind the defensive line to slot past Caballero.
Lampard does prefer this formation. But with the personnel in his armoury, it may not be the best system to play.
It leaves the defence exposed when the opposition are attacking, the first leg was an example of this. Marcos Alonso is naïve when defending, this goes against him in a back four because it means there are holes to exploit.
Playing a three, which eventually turns to a five, this allows numbers to get behind the ball which compacts the space.
With out and out defenders not a strong point for Chelsea this season, a back three has looked the best system.
Lacking the clinical edge
Lampard’s side did have chances in the game, especially in the first half. Jorginho won the ball back after Bayern did not clear their lines. The mistake was never punished after Mason Mount fizzed one across the box.
Alonso went close just before half-time after good build up play from Matteo Kovacic, Chelsea’s man of the match on the night. The left-back directed a shot towards goal but it was comfortable for Neuer.
Mount raced through one on one three minutes before Bayern’s opener. It looked promising for the number 19, but the raw pace of Alphonso Davies meant he got back and intercepted the Englishmen.
It is highly unlikely that Chelsea will overturn the tie to progress into the quarterfinal. All preparations are already about next season. New signings Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner are in training. The future looks bright.
This game on Saturday will be about keeping the score respectable. Christian Pulisic is missing from the game, Willian, and Pedro too. The likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham can announce their expectations for next season if they supply a good showing. There is going to be heavy competition for places next season.