February 25th 2020: Chelsea vs Bayern Munich
Chelsea and Bayern Munich go head-to-head in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round-of-16 battle at Stamford Bridge on February 25, which will be their fifth competitive H2H meeting in the 21st century.
Chelsea Form Guide
Chelsea squeezed past the group stage thanks to a 2-1 home success over Lille in the final Group H fixture to finish second in the standings, one point clear of third-placed Ajax. The Blues bounced back after a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Valencia on the opening matchday, putting together five consecutive European games without a loss (W3, D2).
Curiously, all three of their victories during the above five-game sequence have come via a single-goal margin, with two of them seeing Chelsea find the opening goal inside the first 25 minutes of play. But, Franck Lampard will have to find out how to plug his team’s leaky defense to increase Chelsea’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals. The Pensioners have managed just one clean sheet in Europe this season, allowing over 1.5 match goals only once, though.
While they failed to secure a win in three of their last four European home fixtures, Chelsea have an eye-catching home form in Europe to draw inspiration from (W8, D5, L1). Another encouragement for the home fans is that the Blues have netted over 2.5 goals in six of their previous 13 European matches on their home venue.
A relatively inexperienced squad could be one of the reasons Chelsea are regarded as underdogs to come out on top of this two-legged tie. Another potential worry for the London outfit is their inability to keep a clean sheet in continental competitions. The Blues have failed to shut their opponents out in ten of their previous 11 European fixtures, conceding two or more goals on three of those occasions. Chelsea’s defensive frailties combined with their free-scoring form in front of the home crowd imply this encounter could see both teams score.
Bayern Munich Form Guide
Although they are still struggling for consistency in the Bundesliga, it had all gone smooth and clean for Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage. The perennial champions of Germany finished top of their section with all six wins and an intimidating +19 goal difference. Indeed, the Bavarians have scored over 2.5 goals in all but one of their six Group C outings, racking up a total of 24 goals.
In addition to a remarkable 7-2 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur in London, Bayern also boast the competition’s highest win of the season that saw them brush Red Star Belgrade aside with a commanding 6-0 victory in Serbia. 66% of Bayern’s Champions League goals scored this term have come away from home (16 of 24), with Hansi Flick’s side opening the scoring in two of their three continental trips so far.
Bayern will need to replicate that kind of performance to post their second straight away win over Chelsea in their second European visit to Stamford Bridge since the turn of the new millennium. But, taking into account their previous five H2Hs with the Blues, the Bavarians are unlikely to keep a clean sheet here. They have not only failed to shut Chelsea out in all five of those clashes, but they’ve also conceded over 1.5 goals on three of those occasions. That’s not a contrast to Bayern’s recent defensive suffering in Europe when they play away from home. The 2012/13 Champions League winners have conceded 2+ match goals in three of their last four European road trips.
There’s no doubt that Chelsea’s success in this two-legged tie will heavily depend on Tammy Abraham, who has been a revelation this season. The highly-rated 22-year-old striker is the club’s leading goalscorer in the ongoing season, although he has recorded just two Champions League goals during the group stage. Nonetheless, he is still in contention for the Premier League top-scorer. If he manages to transfer his league form into Europe, Bayern might find themselves in a bit of trouble.
Needless to say that Hansi Flick will rely on his attacking firepower to deliver him another positive outcome. Robert Lewandowski, who has been the cornerstone of Bayern’s success in Europe so far this season, is expected to spearhead the visitors’ offensive line in this fixture alongside the likes of Serge Gnabry and Philippe Coutinho. The Pole has been a menace for the rivals’ backlines this campaign, gobbling 30 goals in all competitions ahead of the winter break. Ten of those goals have come in the Champions League, where the 30-year-old already has a hat-trick and a brace to his name this campaign.