Europa League Final: Frank Lampard proves the ideal stand-in captain for John Terry after leading Chelsea to second European title in as many years
The midfielder stood in for Terry last night and in the Champions League final last year
The Amsterdam Arena
Thursday 16 May 2013
The prospect of Chelsea playing a major final without their captain John Terry used to be a prospect that struck fear into the heart of each one of their fans.
It says a lot for his diminished influence at Stamford Bridge these days that when he took his place in the stands before kick-off instead, it barely caused a stir.
Naturally everyone was already aware that an ankle injury at Villa Park on Saturday had robbed him of any chance of facing Benfica, in much the same way that a suspension excluded the former England captain from the Champions League final 12 months ago.
The 32-year-old will never win any popularity contests outside SW6, yet Chelsea have always looked a slightly more fragile side mentally and defensively when playing without him, though it should be pointed out that he is not the reliable performer he once was and Chelsea did win that Champions League final last year.
With Terry’s future at the club uncertain, what Chelsea required was someone to step up and be a leader in his absence. So it was helpful to have a figure of the experience and status of Frank Lampard wearing the armband instead. Sitting next to him in midfield was surely the captain in waiting, David Luiz. And this was the best place for the pair to be, because it was an area where the game looked likely to be won or lost.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t at first make the kind of impact those in all-Blue wanted. They seemed to be surrounded by a sea of red shirts, which was in keeping with the scenes in the Dutch capital, where Chelsea’s support looked to be outnumbered by those from Portugal.
As the first half progressed, Chelsea needed more than the casual flick or hopeful punt from the foot of Luiz against his former club. It left Lampard, fresh from his two goals at Villa Park which secured his place as Chelsea’s all-time top scorer, to do his best to lead by example.
A trademark right-footed shot just before the break almost gave his team an undeserved lead. Then as Chelsea otherwise laboured for nearly an hour, the 34-year-old made it clear to his team-mates that their efforts weren’t good enough. He may not have the verbal volume of Terry, but the message came across loud and clear.
It is no wonder the Chelsea board have apparently seen sense and realised that life without Lampard would be immensely problematic, as they seem to be thinking again about letting him leave.
He almost won the game for Chelsea with just two minutes of normal time remaining, curling a trademark strike from outside the area which cannoned off the bar.
But the fact that Chelsea struggled to kill the game off when given the lead by Fernando Torres, summed up the calamitous defending that was on show and why Terry will always be hard to replace.
But in saying that, Branislav Ivanovic’s late header was one straight out of the Terry repertoire, and it was his name being sung by Chelsea’s supporters at the end.
Latest in Sport
David De Gea to Real Madrid: Manchester United goalkeeper spotted arriving at Madrid airport
Angel Di Maria to Bayern Munich: Manchester United to make £24m loss as club want '£35m' for Argentina flop
Wimbledon 2015: Dustin Brown knocks Rafael Nadal out of the championship
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Chelsea 2015/16 home shirt leaked again as new picture appears online
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Russell Brand condemns moment of silence for Tunisia attack victims as a 'minute of bulls**t'
- 4 'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
- 5 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives