Chelsea had to put the greasepaint away last night and reach for the overalls. Their defeat of Barcelona was an occasion of virtuoso football theatre. The script was different last night.
Chelsea had to put the greasepaint away last night and reach for the overalls. Their defeat of Barcelona was an occasion of virtuoso football theatre. The script was different last night. It was an evening for grafting, for eschewing style and making do. Barcelona may be more glamorous but Bayern Munich are the genuine article. This was the real test and Chelsea were not to be found wanting.
No one met the challenge more boldly than Frank Lampard, a man who has built a career on proving people wrong. As a teenager Lampard had to overcome the disdain of his own supporters, West Ham fans convinced he owed his place to nepotism. He then had to shake off a series of juvenile escapades and accusations that he carried too much weight to dominate a game. He has met and dismissed every criticism to become England's supreme midfielder.
Last night he personified Chelsea's spirit, carrying the game to Bayern. His first goal altered the mood, his second all but broke the Bundesliga leaders. A strike of rare quality, had Ronaldinho scored it we would be running out of superlatives.
Lampard utterly eclipsed Michael Ballack. The German midfielder had dwarfed Patrick Vieira at Highbury but last night he was anonymous, suffocated by Claude Makelele's attentions and Lampard's driving display.
"We know he is a class player and he scored twice, I hope that's emptied his locker and he can't repeat it next week," said Felix Magath, the Bayern manager, who won the European Cup with Hamburg, scoring the winning goal in the 1983 final against Juventus. His pedigree fits his position. Bayern have reached a European final in each of the last five decades, including seven tilts at the continent's premier title, four of them successful.
Success can go to a club's head and Bayern went through a phase when they became known as "FC Hollywood", but while Chelsea are run by businessmen, lawyers and spin doctors Bayern are under the command of distinguished former players: Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness. There is much to admire about the way they conduct themselves. Bayern are football aristocracy and they usually behave like it.
Chelsea are the moneyed, brash newcomers. The nouveau riche are supposed to display a lack of respect for their supposed betters and a disregard for convention. Chelsea and You-Know-Who took that to extremes against Barcelona. Last night, shorn of their gangmaster, the players continued to show the militant swagger of confident upstarts.
They went at Bayern, as they had Barcelona, and again received early reward. When a Bayern player fouled Joe Cole, then kicked the ball at his prone figure, Eidur Gudjohnsen was swiftly over to force a chastened apology. Within a minute of Torsten Frings clattering into Lampard, John Terry had launched himself into Oliver Kahn.
When Bayern finally rallied Lampard crushed them and the Bridge crackled with riotous joy. The fourth goal would have settled it but Bayern, true to their heritage, kept the tie alive. Yet Chelsea must be favourites.
So a place in the last four beckons. The ancien regime have cause for concern and Chelsea have the resources to keep beheading aristocrats for years. There is only one thing for it. The ruling classes will have to lower the drawbridge and let Chelsea into G14. Respectability awaits.