For much of the season it has seemed as ridiculous to question Chelsea's defensive capabilities as to wonder whether the club might go several weeks without being embroiled in a controversy. Yet as Jose Mourinho watched his team's passage to the semi-final from his hotel room last night, his delight may have been tempered by concern at the state of his backline.
For much of the season it has seemed as ridiculous to question Chelsea's defensive capabilities as to wonder whether the club might go several weeks without being embroiled in a controversy.
Yet as Jose Mourinho watched his team's passage to the semi-final from his hotel room last night, his delight may have been tempered by concern at the state of his backline.
Conceding three times to Bayern here hardly mattered, the last two goals coming with the tie effectively over. But Bayern could have scored several more and this continues a run during which Petr Cech has been beaten with unusual, if not yet costly, regularity.
Chelsea survived three scares with the game goalless and the frequency with which they were beaten in the air, from crosses or set plays, in the second half was a worry, as was the way in which they were exposed down the flanks.
This was the first time they had let in three goals under Mourinho and they have now managed only one clean sheet in their past 11 matches. That marks a significant change from the run that saw their defence breached only twice over the course of 14 games from December 18 to February 12.
A continuation of this form is unlikely to trip them up in the Premiership but they cannot be so certain in this competition.
It has to be taken into account that Chelsea's late sloppiness here came when they effectively had two feet in the next round, a point emphasised afterwards by the fitness coach Rui Faria.
He also noted the desire at that stage of avoid any possibility of yellow cards for Ricardo Carvalho and William Gallas, both of whom were a booking from missing the next match. But there can be no disputing that Chelsea are not defending with the effectiveness of earlier in the campaign.
There were periods here when they looked comfortable, notably after Frank Lampard's goal and in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Yet they wobbled early on and again after Claudio Pizarro had given Bayern hope at 5-3 on aggregate, with Eidur Gudjohnsen forced to clear a header off the line.
Mourinho is missing the injured Paulo Ferreira and Wayne Bridge, and the manager cannot feel entirely comfortable with his situation at right-back, where Robert Huth was preferred with little success to Glen Johnson last night. The German looked uncomfortable when opponents ran at him and was rescued more than once by the impressive defensive work of Joe Cole.
Twice in the opening five minutes Bayern launched attacks which exposed Huth and might have brought goals. For much of the game his task appeared to be to act less as a standard right-back than a third centre-half, on hand to help with the expected barrage of crosses, and it was then left to others, Cole in particular, to cover that flank.
But one of Huth's headers presented a chance to Michael Ballack and, even with a defence comprising four central defenders, Chelsea struggled in the air on balls whipped into the box after the interval.
It was a header by Ballack which led to Pizarro's goal and the Germany international then forced Gudjohnsen into his goalline clearance. Other such chances were not taken.