Even Didier Drogba would have struggled to dig Chelsea out of this hole. There was no dramatic turnaround. There was no Petr Cech to perform heroics in goal, no Drogba to power a header past Manuel Neuer and no hope of Chelsea pulling off another miraculous comeback against Bayern Munich, who look a good bet to win the Champions League for the first time since 2013 after reaching the last eight with another ruthless display.
In truth it always was fanciful to think that Chelsea, beaten 7-1 on aggregate, would be capable of burgling Bayern at the Allianz Arena again. The gulf in class was vast and, although Frank Lampard can be proud of finishing fourth in his first season as Chelsea’s manager, this was another painful reminder that his callow side remain a work in progress.
While Lampard praised his players for fighting until the bitter end, Chelsea’s final match of a draining campaign was an ordeal. They will be in the Champions League again next season but they have some way to go before they are on Bayern’s level. They have not been past the last 16 of this competition since 2014 and it is not hard to see why Lampard, who captained Chelsea when they beat Bayern in front of their own supporters in the 2012 final, wants defensive reinforcements to accompany the attacking signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.
“We will look at improving in the summer,” Lampard said. “That’s our job. We have worked at it already. From having the ban we have missed out where other clubs have spent. We have a quick turnaround. I know where we can improve in a footballing sense.”
There is no escaping reality: this was a mismatch and although Chelsea tried to preserve their dignity, Bayern easily exposed their flaws. The Bundesliga winners, 3-0 up from the first leg at Stamford Bridge, showed no mercy and head to Lisbon in good nick, full of confidence before meeting Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
The treble is on the cards. Bayern will fancy themselves against Barça, even though keeping Lionel Messi quiet will not be straightforward. Robert Lewandowski is in rampant form – the striker scored his 46th and 47th goals of the season here – and it is hard to find any weaknesses in Hansi Flick’s side.
There was no sign of any rust, even though this was Bayern’s first competitive outing since beating Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup final on 4 July. They took control from the start and pounced in the seventh minute, Serge Gnabry drifting in from the right to release Lewandowski, who tumbled after being fouled by Willy Caballero.
Chelsea’s relief at seeing the flag go up for offside faded. The referee, Ovidiu Hategan, pointed to the spot after a VAR review and Lewandowski stroked his penalty past Caballero, who was booked for the foul.
Lampard, who gave little away after being asked about interest in the Leverkusen winger Kai Havertz, looked worried. Chelsea were without César Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Jorginho, Billy Gilmour, Pedro, Willian, Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, forcing Lampard to name six academy prospects on the bench, and did not have the tactical discipline to contain Bayern.
Flick’s side were relentless. Alphonso Davies kept motoring forward from left-back, giving Reece James a torrid time, and the second goal arrived when Mateo Kovacic dawdled near his own area, allowing Lewandowski to rob the midfielder and set up Ivan Perisic for an easy finish.
Lampard, who wants a goalkeeper, a centre-back and a left-back, spoke about naive defending. Chelsea conceded 54 goals in the league this season and are slow to scent danger. Kepa Arrizabalaga, the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, was on the bench again and although Lampard dropped Antonio Rüdiger after last week’s defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup final, his 4-3-3 system gave Bayern too much room.
Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma struggled as a central defensive pairing, Emerson Palmieri was rusty after being handed a rare start at left-back and N’Golo Kanté, back in the team after a long absence with a hamstring injury, was off the pace in midfield.
At least there were flickers of resistance from Chelsea. Callum Hudson-Odoi, keen to impress against the team that almost signed him last year, had a fine goal disallowed for offside against Tammy Abraham, who did pull one back when Neuer pushed a cross-shot from Emerson into his path.
Yet the only real scare for Bayern came when Jérôme Boateng fell injured after retrieving a long ball. The defender was down for a while and eventually had to make way for Niklas Süle.
Yet Bayern were relentless. They extended their lead when Corentin Tolisso, on as a substitute, volleyed in from close range and there was still time for Lewandowski to score again, proving once and for all that Chelsea were out of their depth.