Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 8:00 PM (UK time)
The German champions set foot in London once again to fight a battle, however, this time it is guaranteed to be less hostile and remain restricted entirely to the field. The Bavarians team will also have vengeance on their mind as they look forward to reversing the decision of the 2012 Champion's League final. That was a night the London Blues remember with pride where Schwienstiger's inability to net a penalty kick goal handed the Bavarians a very difficult pill to swallow. A lot has changed for Chelsea from then on, Frank Lampard has graduated to the ranks of a coach, while Bayern still has the same look about them with at least 3 players who had played in that fateful final taking the field tomorrow!
The odds were stacked against Chelsea then, but this tie is arguably even more one sided as the Bundesliga outfit’s wealth of experience is matched against youthful naivety. London has already been kind to Bayern this season. They grabbed a superb tally of seven goals away against Tottenham back in October, with former Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry haunting his old foes with four goals.
Will Bayern be able to hoodwink their younger opponents?
Bayern had had a shaky start to the season with Kovac, however, things have improved a great deal under Hansi Flick, the new interim coach. He is said to have brought stability in the team and the effects have shown themselves on the field. Thomas Muller, out of favor in Kovac era has found himself a new and the return to form of such an experienced player has seen Bayern create excellent passes in the middle. And to add to that, while at the start of the season only Lewy seemed to have had the ability to score goals, now Bayern others to depend on. He has 5 goals to his name and 14 assists, needless to say he is also a goal maker. Robben and Ribbery left the club last season and though those are gigantic shoes to fill, Bayern current choice of wingers is pretty satisfactory too. Coman and Gnabry are excellent players and both have the pace and skill to burst through the Chelsea back line. To add to this, they have their two full backs- Pavard and Davis with their raw pace to feed wingers with passes. Kimmich and Thiago have proved invaluable in the mid-field. Then there is Lewy!
Is there a better centre-forward in the world right now than Lewandowski? No, we thought not. He’s the Bundesliga’s top scorer with a personal-best 25 goals from 23 matchdays and the Champions League’s top scorer with 10 from five games – just one short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s group-stage record but in one game fewer. All told, the Poland captain has 38 goals in his 32 competitive club appearances this season, finding the back of the net on average every 75 minutes. That's compared to 106 for Ronaldo, 103 for Lionel Messi and 91 for Kylian Mbappe. Chelsea top scorer Tammy Abraham nets every 164 minutes.
But the team has not been on their best foot from the defensive end. Plagued by injury to Sule, Martinez and their most recent defensive acquisition- Hernandez, Bayern has been forced to stick to an aging and slow Boateng. While Alaba will try his best, it is obvious that Boateng will not be able to keep pace with the Chelsea forwards, but the possible absence of Tammy Abraham from the Chelsea side might prove a blessing for him. But the defense will leak goals.
Or, will young blooded Chelsea prove more potent?
Chelsea, unlike Bayern had started the season really well but have fizzled out since. Lampard the young coach though earnest, has often been found a little wanting on the tactical side. Ahead of Saturday's game with Spurs, Frank Lampard was aware that he was beginning to come under some pressure from the club's supporters after four matches without success in the Premier League.
Chelsea have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League 14 times in 17 seasons since 2003/04 – only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich can boast more knockout appearances over that time. However, the Blues haven’t made it past the round of 16 since 2013/14. However, just like they did in the reverse fixture in December, Chelsea outfought and outclassed their London rivals, ultimately prevailing by well-taken goals from Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso. The West Londoners also had to cope with the feeling of injustice after Giovani Lo Celso remarkably survived a call for a red card, but Lampard watched his players come through another test of character at a time when they should have had a comfortable last half-hour. Perhaps the most significant part of the weekend's derby was the performance of Giroud, who added a different dimension to Chelsea's play after being omitted from the team for much of the campaign. The fact that Giroud is a World Cup winning striker and yet has still languished as Chelsea’s third-choice striker this season tells you everything you need to know about his career. For Montpellier, Arsenal and France he has been a dependable contributor of goals even when the creativity isn’t flowing behind him. But throughout his career, his status as a truly excellent striker has still been doubted. But, after a bright impact off the bench in his side’s defeat against Manchester United, Lampard gambled on the Frenchman and reaped the rewards as a result in Saturday’s victory against Tottenham. Giroud’s left-footed lash into the bottom corner showed all the hallmarks of a top quality striker at a time when composure in front of goal had become Chelsea’s kryptonite. The Blues have one of the least experienced squads left in the competition and will find themselves up against some serial winners on Tuesday. Giroud’s maturity and level-headed attitude has never been more crucial.
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