The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 draw took place today and Bayern Munich’s fate was decided: the Germans will face Chelsea first in the knockout stages of the competition. There were mixed reactions among the fanbase, but most are confident that the team will be able to pull this off.
Bayern will be heading into the tie as favorites, but there definitely is room for an upset. Chelsea are a team with quality talent all over the pitch — with the likes of Kepa Arrizabalaga, N’Golo Kante, and Christian Pulisic on their team. Bayern are no walkovers either, coming into the games with one of the best squads in Europe, on the back of the best-ever performance in the UCL group stage. This is a mouthwatering tie, and here are five reasons why Chelsea is a good draw for Bayern Munich:
A good early test
As of now, Bayern look like they will settle for Hansi Flick as coach until the end of the season. If that ends up being the case, the coach’s tactical nous will be put to the test against the Blues.
Chelsea Frank Lampard has revitalized the Londoners — though recent results have been lackluster, the squad is starting to function as a great unit. Chelsea are a team that is good with possession and dangerous on the counter, and will most likely sit back and soak up pressure, applying a pressing game.
Hansi Flick will have his hands full to devise the best game plan to get a victory in both fixtures, and an early test of this caliber, if successful, will strengthen him for the fixtures ahead.
A quality adversary to prepare the squad
Chelsea are a squad-studded with talent, and keeping their attack at bay is easier said than done. With players such as Tammy Abraham, Willian, Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea have the tools available to unlock the Bayern defense.
The Bavarians have been plagued by defensive lapses throughout the Hinrunde, and with the stakes high, mistakes in defense cannot be afforded. Similarly, the attack will have to finish their chances in a clinical fashion or risk giving the tie away. The magnitude of the occasion should invigorate the squad with purpose and focus, since they’ll have to be at their best game to overcome the Londoners. Bayern definitely have the quality to overcome Chelsea, and if they qualify, the win will provide momentum and confidence.
The London charm
Bayern generally tend to do well against sides from London. Bayern fans are all too familiar with the club’s past fixtures against Arsenal, where the German champions obliterated Gunners countless times, the most recent fixtures seeing a 10-2 aggregate scoreline, their worst-ever defeat in the UCL.
Similarly, this season, Bayern faced another club from London — Tottenham — and once again rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion, inflicting a 7-2 mauling on them away and securing a 3-1 win at the Allianz, to settle the scoreline at 10-3 on aggregate. All this gives us the feeling that Bayern are somewhat of a bogey team to London clubs in general, and this factor could play well to our strengths and confidence when facing Chelsea.
Painting London red twice in the same season seems too delectable to pass on, doesn’t it?
The home advantage
This one needs no explanation. The second leg will be played in the Allianz Arena, which is usually a lions’ den for other clubs to venture into (All-lionz Arena, haha!) [Editor’s note: This pun was Schnitzel’s idea, I take no responsibility for it.]
Bayern usually perform best at home, and the second leg will be crucial in determining the winner of this tie. With the Südkurve roaring and the fans backing the team with their magnificent support, the 12th man can help the team pull off this victory in grand fashion. If anyone had doubts on whether the Bavarians could pull this off, they need to consider this factor too, which could very well play into Bayern’s hands.
Revenge served cold
Bayern Munich is a squad that can be propelled to great heights with drive and passion behind them. The “match that shall not be named or discussed” against Chelsea in 2012 was what served as the fire that fueled the squad to win it all in 2013.
Now that Bayern Munich have the chance to avenge for wounds from the past, this tie will not be taken lightly at all, and with some players (Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, etc.) who played in that tie still with the team, they have all the drive and motivation required to make this a hammering. This one’s for clearing previous debts, and revenge shall (hopefully) be served cold.