LONDON • Chelsea manager Frank Lampard believes reigning European champions Bayern Munich are a benchmark for his young players as they target improvements on all fronts ahead of their Champions League opener against Sevilla.
Bayern thrashed the Blues 7-1 on aggregate in the last 16 last season before lifting the trophy for the sixth time in August.
The Blues are obviously not at that level yet, and are still working out the kinks following their £220 million (S$388 million) splurge in the transfer market, which has yet to pay dividends.
However, Lampard has urged his team to use Bayern as the yardstick, insisting there is plenty of untapped potential in his side despite their topsy-turvy form in the Premier League.
“It is a great platform to learn because you’re playing against the best, and we played against the best in Bayern Munich,” Lampard said at his pre-match virtual press conference ahead of today’s Group E tie at Stamford Bridge.
“We were a young team last year, working a lot to improve, and the Bayern game was a great marker for the young players in the squad to realise the levels that need to be attained. I remember having that myself as a young player.
“Of the players we have brought in, some have more Champions League experience than others.”
Chelsea have added Champions League experience to the squad in the close season with the arrival of defender Thiago Silva and forwards Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.
Three of them have reached at least the last-four stage in the past two seasons and most pundits expect Chelsea and Sevilla to be fighting it out for the top two spots, given that the other teams are debutants Krasnodar of Russia and France’s Rennes.
However, Lampard is refusing to take their expected progress to the knockout stage for granted, especially as glaring errors have pockmarked their start to the season.
“I mentioned before about concentration, focus and discipline and that becomes even more important here than other competitions because of the level of Champions League,” he added. “That’s what I would always make very clear to the players going into a match against someone of the quality of Sevilla.”
Likewise, Blues captain Cesar Azpilicueta also urged his attacking teammates to pitch in as defending is a “collective” effort.
Claiming it would not be possible to outscore their opponents in every game, the Spain right-back said: “When you are weak defensively, sometimes we feel like we have to score three or four goals every game, which sometimes you cannot do, it’s a reality.
“When we don’t score, as a defender, I think how can we put our attacking players in a better situation. Collectively, we have to improve so we all defend together, it doesn’t matter our position… at the moment, we have to improve that.”
However, with first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy out injured, Lampard must choose between error-prone Kepa Arrizabalaga or 39-year-old backup Willy Caballero for the Europa League winners’ visit, with neither player inspiring any sort of confidence as the last line of defence.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
CHELSEA V SEVILLA
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