Dominic Fifield of the Guardian reckons a set of issues and a poor Champions League record make Chelsea no longer a power to be reckoned with.
Chelsea may console themselves with the fact they were knocked out by a ruthless Barca side with a peak Leo Messi – and it’s true – but the sad conclusion is Chelsea are no longer considered among Europe’s elite as the Champions League advancement again eludes the Blues.
Since winning the tournament back in 2012, Chelsea have only beaten two sides in the knockout stage of the competition – PSG and Galatasaray.
The issues are aggravated from inside. A club full of fresh talent have been struggling to reveal new stars to the world. The current crop of top players are yet to re-commit to the club and new arrivals have become less and less alluring. This is mentioned to highlight how difficult it will be to retrieve the status lost.
Had Chelsea somehow got past Barca, the question would erase itself. But as now, Chelsea are still yet to qualify for the next CL campaign.
The club now have a tough choice to make in the summer – should Antonio Conte stay or go? He did, despite all the struggles some of which were self-inflicted, offered the fans and board a slight hope in the Barca tie. It was never meant to be though, but perhaps, with some of his demands met, he could be the man to bring European nights back to the Bridge.