Frank Lampard did praise Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic in midweek despite him playing in a disappointing loss against Bayern Munich.
The Blues were unfortunately humbled on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge, as they lost 3-0 to the German opposition in the first leg of a Champions League last-16 tie.
They will need a minor miracle in the second leg to overturn the aggregate deficit, but it was a good way of seeing how far this current group still need to go to compete with Europe’s best.
It must be stressed that Chelsea are at the start of a project with Lampard at the helm of a young squad, but they just weren’t quite up to the task against a polished Bayern opposition.
Serge Gnabry scored a quick-fire double early into the second-half to put the visitors in front, while goal machine Robert Lewandowski added a third in the second-half too.
Lampard was understandably left disappointed post-match, but did give Kovacic a special mention for his display.
“I think there were a couple of performances in our team, namely Kovacic that played with a personality and a quality that makes you go ‘OK, he can play in virtually any team at that level,” Lampard said, as quoted by Football.London.
Kovacic didn’t deserve to end up on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline and he showed once again why he has to be in the running for the club’s player of the year.
The Croatia international looked a risk when Chelsea splashed out £40million (BBC) in the 2019 summer window, as he had just finished an average season-long loan spell at Stamford Bridge.
But he is a 25-year-old that is now looking such a key piece of the side and has to be an individual that Lampard is looking at building his team around.
The central midfielder was brave in possession against a Bayern side that pressed high and it’s clear to see why he was on the books at Real Madrid.