Chelsea’s Champions League campaign is surely over after they were brutally outclassed by Bayern Munich in the last-16 first-leg tie at Stamford Bridge.
The Bundesliga leaders followed in the footsteps of closest rivals RB Leipzig, who won at Tottenham at this same stage six days previously, by coming to the capital and producing a hugely impressive display.
And, as when Bayern inflicted an historic 7-2 home defeat on Spurs in October, former Arsenal star Serge Gnabry was the tormentor-in-chief as he revelled on his return to London.
The 24-year-old scored four at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and he delivered the end product Bayern had threatened from the kick-off when he struck clinically twice early in the second half after being set up by the outstanding Robert Lewandowski.
Lewandowski surely snuffed out any lingering hopes Chelsea had of a comeback when he finished off another sweeping attack, fed by the brilliant teenager Alphonso Davies.
As if this was not enough, Chelsea’s misery was compounded by defender Marcos Alonso being sent off late on after a clash with Lewandowski after the experienced Jorginho had been ruled out of the second leg when he received a silly yellow card for dissent.
Chelsea’s lack of technical class exposed
Chelsea may have actually over-stretched themselves by getting out of a group containing Valencia and Ajax, key results being a win over last season’s semi-finalists in Amsterdam and a freakish 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge, when they came from 4-1 down.
This, however, was a step too far.
The warning signs were flashing almost from the kick-off as Bayern, looking sharper and more inventive than the side well beaten by Liverpool at this same stage last season, sliced them apart.
Chelsea somehow survived the first 45 minutes in tact but the threat from the likes of Gnabry, Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman was evident, Thomas Muller coming closest with a header against the bar.
It was no surprise when Bayern opened up Chelsea with precision for three second-half goals and Frank Lampard’s side simply had no answer in any area of the pitch.
When Chelsea had half-chances they could not convert them and when dangerous balls flew across the face of goal there was no-one on the end of them.
Chelsea looked a well beaten side once the deadlock was broken by Gnabry six minutes after the break and if there is any consolation, and in truth there is not, it is that the damage could have been a lot worse, such was the gulf in class.
They pulled off a miracle to win the Champions League against Bayern in their own Allianz Arena in 2012 – but there is no evidence to suggest they will come anywhere near the result they require in the second leg.
Bayern show high quality
When Bayern were comfortably overcome 3-1 by Liverpool in the second leg of their last-16 meeting at home last season, they looked a tired side in need of rejuvenation.
And while it is hard to take an accurate measure of just how good they are given how poor Chelsea were, this was still mightily impressive.
Lewandowski is a world-class talent completely at home at this level while Gnabry is approaching full maturity. Thomas Muller, who looked past his best, looks re-born.
And in 19-year-old Alphonso Davies they have a glorious young talent who has it all, raiding from left-back with pace, composure and end product.
Bayern have a love affair with the Champions League, are they in the process of rekindling it?
Man of the match – Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)
‘Sobering and brutally honest’ – what they said
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard told BT Sport: “The performance was poor and sometimes you have to be brutally honest. They outclassed us in every department and it’s quite sobering. The level of team they are is why they challenge in the Bundesliga and Europe year in year out. I’m disappointed we couldn’t do more against them. We have to take it on the chin and work towards getting back to the levels we want to be at.
“If you look at the choice of passes they make, our choices have to improve. If our players have a bit about them, which I think they do, they will look at who they were playing against and the level they need to work to. We will always play with pride but I’m more concerned about the bigger picture. How quickly can we recover for the Premier League and how quickly can we get to the level?”
On the suspended players: “Jorginho is done by talking to the ref, which is unnecessary when you’re on a yellow card. Marcos Alonso I haven’t seen yet and I will look at it, but they are out of the game so it’s an opportunity for someone else to come in.”
Chelsea crumble to European low – match stats
- Chelsea have suffered eight home defeats in all competitions this season, their worst tally of home defeats since the 1985-86 season (also eight).
- Bayern Munich are only the third team in Champions League history to win their first seven games in a season, after Barcelona in 2002-03 and Real Madrid 2014-15, neither of whom went on to win the trophy.
- This was Chelsea’s heaviest ever home European defeat and their heaviest defeat at Stamford Bridge in any competition since January 2018 (3-0 v Bournemouth in the Premier League).
- Only Barcelona (10) have won more away Champions League games in England than Bayern Munich (seven), with Bayern scoring 26 goals in their last 10 away matches in England (W6 D2 L2).
- Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry has scored all six of his Champions League goals in London (four vs Spurs, two vs Chelsea) – he is the first player in Champions League history to score all his first six goals against teams of the same nation.
- Gnabry has scored six goals in two appearances in London for Bayern Munich, having scored none in nine appearances in London for Arsenal between 2012 and 2014.
- Bayern manager Hans-Dieter Flick became only the seventh manager to win his first four Champions League matches, and the first since Diego Simeone in November 2013.
- Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski has scored nine away Champions League goals this season, a joint record in a single season in the competition along with Cristiano Ronaldo in 2013-14.
- Lewandowski has been directly involved in 13 goals in just six Champions League appearances this season (11 goals, two assists).
- Marcos Alonso became the first Chelsea player to be sent off in the Champions League since John Terry was dismissed in April 2012 against Barcelona.
Chelsea return to Premier League action with a trip to Bournemouth on Saturday, 29 February (15:00 GMT), while Bayern travel to Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on the same day (14:30 GMT).