?Chelsea’s Champions League first-leg match against Bayern Munich was being tipped as the biggest test of the season so far for the club’s young stars, and that proved to be the case as the Bundesliga side quickly took control of things at Stamford Bridge.
The game was still goalless at half time, but Serge Gnarby struck twice shortly after the restart to put Bayern Munich into a deserved lead, while Robert Lewandowski finished things off with a simple tap in the latter stages of the match.
He didn’t get on the scoresheet himself, but Frank Lampard’s side quite obviously struggled to deal with ?Thomas Müller throughout the game, with Bayern Munich’s Raumdeuter finding space too easily in the final third and even hitting the crossbar with a header.
Although Thiago Alcântara and Joshua Kimmich controlled the tempo of the match slightly deeper in midfield, Müller was given licence to roam by Chelsea’s midfielders which almost proved to be their downfall.
Neither Jorginho or Mateo Kova?i? were able to come close to marking Müller, and while Chelsea’s midfield has been immaculate in the Premier League recently, Tuesday’s match highlighted just how important N’Golo Kanté still is in west London.
It’s obvious to point out that Kanté would have been able to limit the threat that Müller offered.
Chelsea were tormented by Müller throughout the first half and after they paid more attention to the Raumdeuter after the break, that just freed up even more space for Coman, Gnabry and Lewandowski to put Lampard’s side to the sword.
The Blues still impressed at times against Bayern Munich without Kanté, but it always felt like a matter of time before Chelsea went behind and they eventually imploded in on themselves after Gnabry’s opener.
The World Cup-winning midfielder also would have had a knock-on effect across the pitch which could have made Chelsea more competitive, especially in wide areas.
With the middle of the pitch more sured up bu Kanté’s presence on the pitch, that would have allowed the likes of Reece James and Marcos Alonso to venture forward much more – a key tactic for Chelsea in their win against Tottenham.
But without that width out wide, both Mason Mount and Ross Barkley were forced to cover more ground, starting their possession much wider than usual and leaving Olivier Giroud incredible isolated through the middle.
Tuesday’s defeat to Bayern Munich will be an important wake-up call for Chelsea’s next generation as they continue their development, but it’s clear without Kanté marshalling their midfield, Lampard’s side will always fall short against European football’s biggest and best.
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