Chelsea’s defensive fragility was brutally exposed in the 2-1 loss to Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals.
The Blues, desperate to break the glass ceiling of the semifinal after two previous losses, hit the roof of Glas. Swedish defender Hanna Glas provided the assist for Sydney Lohmann’s first goal and scored an impressive solo goal, sandwiching the leveler deflected by former Bayern captain Melanie Leupolz.
After the 2-2 draw against Manchester City on Wednesday, Emma Hayes had said she was “relieved”. What did you want done differently in Munich? “Do what I want you to do, don’t do anything else,” was the manager’s message.
Perhaps it was the nervousness of being 180 minutes away from a first Champions League final that affected Chelsea, since it was Bayern out of shape, who had won only one of their last three games, the one that shot out of the blocks and put the ball. makeshift visiting defense under pressure.
A long-term injury to right-back Maren Mjelde meant Jess Carter would return to the starting line-up, while the continued absence of captain Magda Eriksson meant that Sophie Ingle would join England’s Millie Bright in center defense.
Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger, after her impressive late save prevented defeat in Manchester, was to blame for the first goal. Glas beat left-back Jonna Andersson and Berger’s ill-timed punch slipped into Lohmann, who headed for the open net.
Hayes had spoken of his confidence in his team’s resilience after Wednesday’s performance. “Sometimes when you don’t play your game plan exactly how you want or you don’t have control of football the way you want, you have to get ahead, you have to gut something together when it’s awkward and that’s what I think the team has. done very, very well this season ”.
That mental toughness would be further tested when Bayern, buoyed by their lead, advanced.
Chelsea’s draw would come from a familiar face, literally and figuratively: Guro Reiten’s free kick was directed by Marina Hegering to the face of former Bayern player Leupolz and bounced off.
Leupolz was at the heart of Chelsea’s best play, but defensively they continued to battle against the team they outscored in their only previous Champions League encounter, as Chelsea advanced to the round of 16 on away goals after an aggregate score of 2-2. in 2017.
Bayern coach Jens Scheuer had said he was looking forward to the tactical battle, but had acknowledged that his team “would have to play to the limit, at our best”, to overcome the reigning Women’s Super League champions. They did it. With nearly an hour to go, Andersson leaned back as Glas ran into the area, slicing into the wavering Swede and whipping the net.
Chelsea reached for the leveler, but it left holes in her outstretched back. Midfielder Ji So-yun stepped closer as she shook the bottom of the crossbar only for it to bounce off the line.
Chelsea’s dream of the Champions League final seemed to fall apart, but all is not lost, they have an away goal. However, as they discovered two years ago against Lyon, returning to Kingsmeadow with a goal against one of Europe’s best is not an easy change.
Despite all the talk about the Blues team’s strength and attack, the lack of depth in the back has been exposed by injuries to Eriksson and Mjelde, something Hayes will no doubt look to address in the summer.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism