Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is refusing to get carried away but last week his squad drew comparisons to the Blues side that won the Champions League eight years ago.
After thrashing Sevilla 4-0 Lampard’s outfit made it four consecutive wins in the elite European competition, before ending the group stage undefeated following a draw with Krasnodar. The last time the club achieved as many wins in succession was on the way to glory in 2012.
Lampard was part of that winning side but is keeping his feet firmly on the ground. Asked if he knew that statistic, he said: ‘No, I wasn’t aware of that. I do like superstitions but I also don’t like tempting fate.’
Lampard’s old pal Joe Cole isn’t worried about tempting fate, though, and was waxing lyrical about the side he is building at Stamford Bridge. He claimed they ‘can win everything’ as ‘it’s a better team than when they won the Champions League in 2012’.
Lampard splashed out more than £200million this summer, recruiting the likes of Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, following a transfer ban last term, but is Joe Cole right?
Here, Sportsmail assesses the options Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo had at their disposal in 2012, compared to the charges available to Lampard this campaign, and ultimately which squad comes out on top?
Chelsea’s first-choice shot-stopper in 2012 was Petr Cech, who made more than 300 appearances in 11 years at the club and won four league titles in the process. He played a pivotal role in helping Chelsea win their first Premier League during his first season at Stamford Bridge under Jose Mourinho.
He went on to win three more top-flight titles with the Blues as well as four FA Cups, the League Cup on three occasions and the Europa League.
- In the famous penalty shoot-out victory over Bayern Munich Cech saved an extra-time spot-kick by former team-mate Arjen Robben and then two penalties in the tense shootout which followed. He was certainly a more than reliable man between the sticks. Providing cover for him were Englishman Ross Turnbull and Portuguese Hilario but they made less than 60 appearances between them as they rarely had to be called upon.
- Goalkeeper has become a problem position for Chelsea in recent years but they appear to have found a solution this season in Edouard Mendy. Like Cech, he made the move from Rennes to west London and the 28-year-old equalled Cech’s early records by letting in three goals and keeping nine clean sheets in 12 games.
- Kepa Arrizabalaga, who became the world’s most expensive keeper when he joined for £72m, has lost his place after several high-profiles mistakes, while Willy Caballero is also susceptible to making an error.
- GOALKEEPER RATING – 2012: 8/10 2020: 7/10
- FULL BACKS
- Chelsea were blessed with one of the best left backs the Premier League has ever seen in Ashley Cole. He was part of the incredible Arsenal Invincibles side but played in over 300 games for the Blues where he won the Premier League, Champions League, League Cup, Europa League and FA Cup four times.
On the right hand side of the defence Chelsea had Branislav Ivanovic, who was solid and trusted to carry out his responsibilities at the back. He won nine major trophies during a trophy-laden 377-game career at Stamford Bridge.
Southampton left back Ryan Bertrand, who has become a key player for the Saints, failed to really make the grade at the Blues provided cover at left back for Cole. Although he did start and play 73 minutes of the 2012 final at left wing. While Portuguese duo Jose Bosingwa, who played the full game against Bayern, and Paulo Ferreira were dependable deputies at full back.
Lampard spent £50m on Leicester left back Ben Chilwell over the summer after rotating Emerson Palmieri and Marcos Alonso last season. The pair have long been linked with moves away from the club and the arrival of the talented England full back means their game time is limited.
At right back the Blues have Cesar Azpilicueta, who is on the verge of making his 400th appearance for the club. He has been a key figure at Stamford Bridge over the years, helping the club win two Premier League and Europa League titles as well as the FA Cup and the League Cup.
He has seen his minutes in the league restricted this season and that’s down to the impressive performances of 20-year-old Reece James. The youngster has been a standout player at both ends of the pitch this season.
FULL BACK RATING – 2012: 8/10 2020: 8/10
There’s nowhere else to start other than with ‘captain, leader, legend’ John Terry who was Chelsea’s driving force for almost two decades at the club. The commanding centre back won the lot with Chelsea, including five Premier Leagues. He was a colossus at the heart of their defence and one of the best centre halves to grace the English top flight. The Englishman was actually suspended for the 2012 final but certainly played his part on their path to glory.
Terry’s replacement against Bayern was David Luiz, who stepped up to fill the void in the showdown, and played a crucial role alongside Terry en route to the final. Now at Arsenal the Brazilian continues to lack consistency and his displays are erratic but he was there when Chelsea needed him most.
Chelsea also had Gary Cahill in their ranks, who was a solid performer in 290 matches for the Blues, and struck up a formidable partnership alongside Terry for a number of years. Sam Hutchinson, who left Sheffield Wednesday this year, also provided cover in the central defensive position but he didn’t get a look in. .
The Blues had their fair share of defensive issues last season but again those struggles appear to have been ironed out this campaign. Yes, Mendy has restored confidence at the back but the introduction of Thiago Silva has transformed the backline.
The Brazilian has brought experience, composure as well as key leadership qualities that have been required since the departure of Terry. He has guided centre-back partner Kurt Zouma, who has also improved.
They have very able deputies in Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori, giving them greater depth than the 2012 Champions League heroes.
Again there is an obvious place to start and that is with the Chelsea manager himself. Like Terry, Lampard is a club legend after scoring 210 goals in 648 games from midfield. The former England international was instrumental in their triumphs between 2005 and 2013.
p class=”type-text”>Lampard always had the reassurance of a top quality defensive midfielder behind him with John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien fulfilling that role with aplomb. Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu was also in the Chelsea ranks at the time but was well down the pecking order.
p class=”type-text”>Ramires, Raul Meireles and Josh McEachran provided cover in the middle of the park with the former scoring some important goals in more than 250 games for the club. Juan Mata, who could play in central areas or out wide, provided creativity and guile for the 2012 side.ide.
Chelsea’s central midfield options are more refined now but all bring the quality needed to reach the top. Mason Mount, 21, is a main cog in Lampard’s system and is very much a player he trusts to execute his plan. The Englishman shone last season as the manager opted for youth and he has continued that upward trajectory this term.
In N’Golo Kante they have a superb defensive midfielder and in Jorginho, starlet Billy Gilmour and Mateo Kovacic, Lampard has the options to rotate.
Kai Havertz, signed from Bayer Leverkusen for £89m this summer, is yet to fully make his mark on the Chelsea side but the glimpses he has shown indicate he will become an influential player in time.
CENTRE MIDFIELD RATING – 2012: 8/10 2020: 8/10 8/10
Salomon Kalou was utilised on the right wing in Chelsea’s emphatic victory over Bayern in 2012, although he also lined up for the Blues as a striker during his six years in west London. He scored 60 goals and supplied 44 assists in that time.
Although Bertrand played at left wing in the European finale, Florent Malouda replaced him in the second half and was a regular fixture on the left flank between 2007 and 2013. He notched 45 goals and provided 44 assists in 229 games for the Blues.
Like Kalou, Daniel Sturridge could play out wide or through the middle but he largely provided cover at Stamford Bridge and did not make the same impression as he did at Liverpool years later.
Chelsea have a large of pool of attacking talent to draw from following their summer splurge. The arrival of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax for £38m has improved their product in the final third. The winger has the ability to serve the ball on a plate with great vision and technique.
Lampard can also call upon Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic to bring creativity to the side. Pundits Glen Hoddle and Joe Cole singled out the former as someone who has a very bright future at the club.
Pulisic, previously of Borussia Dortmund, has seen his progress in English football halted by injuries but terrorises opposition defences when fully fit.
WINGER RATING – 2012: 6/10 2020: 8/10
Didier Drogba is a Chelsea icon following 164 goals and 86 assists in 381 appearances across two spells at the club. In eight seasons he helped the Blues win the Premier League and FA Cup on three occasions and the League Cup twice.
The former Ivory Coast international was the man of the moment at the Allianz Arena, scoring the equaliser two minutes from time to take the final to extra time and then scoring the winning spot-kick to secure Europe’s top prize.
The Blues also had Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku to lead the line. The Spaniard, who was in imperious form at Liverpool before he made the £50m switch to rivals Chelsea, saw his form plummet in west London. While Lukaku was not in favour at the club. Lampard relied on Tammy Abraham last season after being served with a transfer ban and was also grateful for the resurgence of Olivier Giroud in the second half of the season.
But this summer the Chelsea boss made a statement to champions Liverpool and title contenders Manchester City by bringing in Germany striker Werner from RB Leipzig. The 24-year-old was in sensational form for the Bundesliga side, attracting interest from Europe’s elite but the Blues won the battle for his signature.
Werner, who can also be deployed in wide areas, has scored eight goals in his first 17 games for his new club. Abraham is continuing to develop his game while Giroud continues to prove he is not there to merely make up the numbers. The Frenchman, linked with a move away in January to get more game time, scored all four goals in Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Sevilla in the Champions League.
FORWARD RATING – 2012: 7/10 2020: 8/10
OVERALL RATING – 2012: 45/60 2020:47/60