Chelsea vs Bayern Munich
Chelsea welcomed FC Bayern Munich to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening for a Champions League last-16 clash.
The last time these two sides faced off in Europe’s biggest club competition was all the way back in the 2012 final.
Chelsea came out on top on that occasion after penalties.
There would be no shoot-out on Tuesday, though, as Chelsea must still travel to Germany for the reverse leg on March 18th.
Ahead of this tie, the Blues had picked up a crucial victory over capital rivals Tottenham, whilst Bayern Munich retained their spot atop the Bundesliga with a 3-2 victory over Paderborn.
Chelsea were once again unable to call upon the injured N’Golo Kante, with Frank Lampard opting for the same starting eleven that saw off Tottenham this past weekend.
Chelsea XI: Caballero, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso, Barkley, Mount, Giroud.
Bayern Munich XI: Neuer, Pavard, Thiago, Lewandowski, Boateng, Davies, Gnabry, Muller, Alaba, Coman, Kimmich.
Chelsea hold firm
Bayern started the tie on the front foot, with Thomas Muller getting a shot off inside 40 seconds.
The German powerhouse continued to dominate the early proceedings, with Chelsea barely getting a sniff of the ball.
Mason Mount was perhaps Chelsea’s brightest spark in the opening 10 minutes, firing two shots off target as the Blues appeared to opt for a more direct approach, launching the ball up to Olivier Giroud and then having Ross Barkley and Mount attempt to latch onto the loose balls.
Mount was then played through by a sensational ball from Mateo Kovacic, but the lightning-quick Alphonso Davies was able to recover well for Bayern.
Willy Caballero then came up clutch for the Londoners, flying out of his six-yard box to smother a Robert Lewandowski effort.
With just over half an hour played, Giroud was inches away from connecting with a Mount cross that would likely have resulted in a goal. Muller then went down the other end moments later and hit the bar.
Marcos Alonso forced a decent save out of Manuel Neuer as we headed towards the interval.
But despite both teams having had a couple of decent chances, the first 45 drew to a close with the score at 0-0.
And given the fact that Bayern were arguably heavy favourites heading into this tie, Frank Lampard will likely have been the more pleased of the two managers at the break.
Chelsea stuck to their shape well, earned a few half-chances on the counter, and limited the service to Bayern’s main danger man, Lewandowski.
One Chelsea player did look somewhat off the pace in the first half at Stamford Bridge, though. That man was Ross Barkley.
Gnabry loves England
Despite his poor showing in the first-half, Barkley would still begin the second 45.
The Blues were then dealt a big blow in the 49th minute, as Jorginho was shown a yellow card, ruling him out of the second-leg.
Moments after the Jorginho booking, Bayern took the lead through Serge Gnabry.
The former Arsenal man was allowed to play a ball to Lewandowski after Azpilicueta slipped over when attempting to mark Gnabry. The Poland international then played a lovely ball back to Gnabry, who slotted home to make it 1-0.
Gnabry and Lewandowski combined again just three minutes later to double the Bundesliga champions’ advantage.
The now-Bayern winger didn’t have the most fruitful time in England with either Arsenal or West Brom.
But this term, Gnabry has been a huge thorn in English teams’ sides. The 24-year-old scored four as Bayern smashed Tottenham 7-2 in this competition earlier this campaign. He then bagged himself a brace at the Bridge on Tuesday.
Chelsea heading for exit door
Lampard responded to going 2-0 down by bringing on Tammy Abraham and Willian for Giroud and Barkley.
The Premier League side struggled to recover after the quick-fire brace from Gnabry, though, with their defending rather desperate and disjointed.
Rather unsurprisingly, Lewandowski eventually got in on the goalscoring action, adding Bayern’s third 75 minutes in.
Chelsea’s woes were added to 82 minutes in. Alonso was sent off after VAR advised the referee to check the Spaniard’s challenge on Lewandowski.
The final whistle blew with the score at 3-0, and, given the fact that Chelsea now face a gruelling trip to the Allianz Arena, you would imagine there is a good chance their 2019/20 Champions League adventure is all but over.
But whilst losing 3-0 at home isn’t the most flattering result for Lampard and co, there shouldn’t be too much hate directed towards the English tactician.
Lampard knew that his side were underdogs for this tie, speaking earlier in the week about how they may have to ‘suffer’ vs Bayern.
And how Lampard set up did seem like a smart choice. For the most part in the first-half, Chelsea held their own against the vastly more experienced Bayern side, and they would continue to carve out the odd chance throughout the 90 minutes.
The problem for Chelsea, though, was that, at the moment, their squad just isn’t on par with a side such as Bayern Munich, and the German outfit’s quality was on clear show in the second-half.
The lack of quality compared to Bayern couldn’t really be helped by Lampard, though.
Chelsea are very much a work in progress at the moment, after losing Eden Hazard, and being unable to sign anyone over the summer.
But there are certainly some top youngsters amongst Chelsea’s ranks. So, whilst Tuesday will be a night to forget for the Stamford Bridge faithful, a couple of new additions in the summer, and some more development from the likes of Mason Mount and Reece James could see the Blues be a lot more competitive vs a team like Bayern in the near future.
Tuesday will also likely be a great learning experience for Lampard, who is still a very inexperienced manager.