Going by Chelsea’s recent form, they will not be favourites for their upcoming UEFA Champions League Round-of-16 contest against FC Bayern. However, a closely-fought contest has been a guarantee whenever these two teams take the field.
Under head coach Frank Lampard, the Blues have been inconsistent in the Premier League this season. Despite their defensive frailties and attacking woes, the London club remain fourth on the table, three points above fifth-placed Manchester United.
It has been a race for the final Champions League spot in the Premier League and Chelsea have so far edged out the rest of competitors. Against Bayern, they are up against an opposition who have been playing on a different level altogether.
Unlike recent seasons, FC Bayern have been really tested in the Bundesliga this time around. They are no longer runaway winners. They lead the standings but only by a point over second-placed RB Leipzig. The improved competition seems to have helped the German giants to put up betters displays in Europe as well.
Striker Robert Lewandowski is enjoying his best-ever season in the Champions League for Bayern. Moreover, no team has scored more goals, attempted more shots and registered more shots on target than the Bavarians.
When these two teams come together for the first knockout round of the Champions League this season, it should be an exhilarating contest. And it has been like that in the last two meetings between these two teams.
For football fanatics, the 2012 UEFA Champions League final comes to mind when they think of these two teams. After 83 minutes without a goal, Thomas Muller beat Chelsea’s defensive resistance to put Bayern ahead in the finale that was held on their home ground. Against all odds, a defensive-minded Chelsea team struck an equaliser through Didier Drogba five minutes later to push the game to extra-time.
The winning goal finally arrived from a penalty-shootout. Drogba scored the penalty that clinched the European trophy for Robert Di Matteo’s underdog team. It was a shock for the German giants but their revenge was served a year later when they met Chelsea in the final of the UEFA Super Cup in 2013. For that tie, Bayern were the champions of Europe and Chelsea, winners of the Europa League.
Bayern equalised twice in that final and once again, a shootout was required to determine the winner. Romelu Lukaku missed his penalty and that was enough for Bayern to lift the trophy.
There have been more such pulsating fixtures between these two teams. A 2005 Champions League knockout contest saw an aggregate scoreline of 6-5 in favour of Chelsea. More recently, Bayern edged a pre-season friendly 3-2 in 2017.
These two clubs are famous for giving it their all on the big stage. And they will be up for another fight in the two-legged contest, the first leg of which is coming up later this week.