Frank Lampard felt tonight’s defeat to Bayern Munich was a ‘harsh lesson’ for his players in elite Champions League football.
The Germans scored three second-half goals to take the tie away from Chelsea ahead of the return leg in Munich next month, and while Lampard was quick to acknowledge the quality possessed by the visitors, he was also frustrated his own side couldn’t raise their game to match the occasion.
‘That’s football at this level,’ the boss said.
‘Bayern Munich’s levels were fantastic. Unless we were to get everything right it was going to be a tough night. We didn’t get everything bang on, we weren’t confident on the ball. That was my biggest disappointment, mostly from start to finish.
‘We want to play here, we’ve shown that all season, but today we went away from that. That can happen in an intense atmosphere when all eyes are on. It was a harsh lesson and a reality for the players of the levels we want to get to.
‘There is a lot of quality in their team, and a build to it with players like Lewandowski, Muller, Boateng, Neuer, Alaba, who have been there a long time. There is a lot to their team we have to respect.
‘In the first half we suffered in moments but we defended resiliently. Technically our defending wasn’t great but we stayed in the game and had a couple of chances.
‘You have to show more than we showed over 90 minutes. The first goal had a bit of a slip in the build-up, but the clinical nature with which they finished it showed a team of their quality will score goals if you give them chances.’
Lampard considered what his players must learn from the experience
‘They need to use it to positive effect, even if it may not feel like that this evening.
‘A lot of players there either haven’t played Champions League knockout football, have played Europa League which is a big difference, or have played it a few years ago and not at Chelsea when we were getting to semi-finals and finals.
‘When you have an eye-opener like tonight, the only answer, young or old, is to not look at any other part of the team but yourself. ‘Who was I up against, who was my direct competitor? How do I feel I played against them?’
‘There were a couple of performances in our team, mainly Kovacic, that played with a personality and a quality that makes you go ‘he could play in any team with that level’. Other than that, we need to see it wasn’t a night we showed that.
‘We chose a system that played well at the weekend. I knew it would work differently today, allow them a lot more possession by having the extra man at the back, but the extra man would also give us some extra security. After that it’s match-ups. That was a learning curve for us.’
Chelsea have it all to do in the second leg...
‘We have to go to Munich and play with a lot of pride and see what we can do there. We can’t consider too much the scoreline in terms of how we approach it. It’s pretty clear we are in a very bad position going into the second leg. It’s a show of character, that’s all we can do.’