Champions League recap: Chelsea's youngsters put to the test

Chelsea will need all their attacking verve as they stand on the brink of elimination.

All of Chelsea's Champions League goals this season
All of Chelsea's Champions League goals this season

Impressive going forward in the group stage, Chelsea will need the performance of a lifetime at Bayern to stay in the competition.

Rule changes for this season


Season so far

Matchday 4 highlights: Chelsea 4-4 Ajax
Matchday 4 highlights: Chelsea 4-4 Ajax

Form guide: W3 D2 L2 F11 A12
Top scorer: Tammy Abraham, César Azpilicueta, Jorginho (2)

Their campaign in ten words: Inconsistent but history suggests they thrive when up against it.

Group H runners-up
Chelsea 0-1 Valencia (Rodrigo 74)
LOSC 1-2 Chelsea (Osimhen 33; Abraham 22, Willian 78)
Ajax 0-1 Chelsea (Batshuayi 86)
Chelsea 4-4 Ajax (Jorginho 5pen 71pen, Azpilicueta 63, James 74; Abraham 2og, Promes 20, Kepa 35og, Van de Beek 55)
Valencia 2-2 Chelsea (Soler 40, Wass 82; Kovačić 41, Pulišić 50)
Chelsea 2-1 LOSC (Abraham 19, Azpilicueta 35; Rémy 78)

Round of 16

First leg (25 February): Chelsea 0-3 Bayern (Gnabry 51 54, Lewandowski 76)

Competitive in the first half, Chelsea were simply blown away by a Serge Gnabry-inspired Bayern after the break and no one was surprised when Robert Lewandowski added his name to the scoresheet. Marcos Alonso's red card and a second-leg suspension for Jorginho compounded the hosts' woes.

Expert view: Jon Phipps, UEFA.com Chelsea reporter

Many of this young Chelsea side have been learning on the job this season, with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James all making UEFA Champions League debuts having spent the previous on loan in the second tier.

Indeed at times, it has shown; they have been inconsistent and, particularly at home in the group stage, often lacked the nous to secure the result a performance deserves. The Blues were outclassed by Bayern in the first leg and have a mountain to climb, but their added match sharpness may just give them a glimmer of hope – although they simply must tighten up at the back.

Who's in charge?

Frank Lampard was a revered figure at Stamford Bridge as a player – scoring more than 200 goals over 13 seasons – and his reputation has been enhanced during his first year at the helm with youth at the forefront of their improving performances. A fourth-placed Premier League finish and FA Cup final appearance was just reward.

Key quote: "We haven't been at this level for a long time and we need to use it as a positive. The players need to understand the levels you need when you get to the knockout stages."

Tactical approach

César Azpilicueta has marshalled the Chelsea defence this season
César Azpilicueta has marshalled the Chelsea defence this seasonGetty Images

Lampard tore up the Chelsea script of recent times when he blooded several youth products this season but that philosophy has enabled him to mould the side in his image. His preferred formation seems to be 4-2-3-1, with the full-backs given plenty of licence to attack, though a back three has been deployed when the former England midfielder has seen fit. Positivity is integral regardless of the tactical tweaks, though, meaning goals at both end of the pitch have been a feature of his vibrant outfit.

Star player: César Azpilicueta

The blend of youth and experience has been central to Chelsea's upturn this season and the reliable, adaptable Spanish international has provided essential leadership and stability, allowing his younger colleagues to blossom. The 30-year-old captain even chipped in with two key goals during the group stage.