Bayern Munich vs Chelsea | Saturday 8th August 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
Had you said to Chelsea fans at the start of this season that the final game of their season would be against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, they’d have been jumping for joy at the prospect of a potential repeat of their famous 2012 final win over the Bavarians.
Alas, their final 2019/20 fixture (because I give them no chance of going through) will be in the Last 16 at the Allianz Arena in what is being seen as a successful season by some and an average one by others.
Club icon Frank Lampard has guided his squad to qualification for Europe’s elite competition again next season but in comparison to Maurizio Sarri’s single year in charge, the Blues have actually dropped a place and not won a trophy. The young manager will argue though, that a transfer ban has meant he’s had to get the best of his relatively young set of players which have been adapting to a new playing style under the attack-minded coach.
In truth, the season was probably somewhere in the middle of those two arguments and that, having already brought in some new signings to Cobham, a more fair assessment of the job the ex-midfielder is doing will come at the end of May 2021. Those additions of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech are ineligible to help Chelsea try and pull off a minor miracle in Munich however, so will be watching from the stands instead.
Lampard will have already been planning for this game without those two players from the off as there was never any expectation they could be included in the squad, however the suspensions and injuries picked up in that first leg at Stamford Bridge and subsequently mean that it’s a thread bare Blues squad making the journey.
Chelsea could be without 10 senior players here after both Cesar Azpilicueta and in-form Christian Pulisic limped off in the FA Cup final defeat, a game Arsenal deserved to win. It compounded the rotten luck the Pensioners had in that game, with some questionable refereeing seeing Kovacic sent off to add insult to injury. The Croat will be available for selection here but Marcos Alonso and Jorginho will both miss out due to their red and yellow cards respectively in the first leg.
It means that some academy players will make up places on the bench in Bavaria and the likes of Emerson and Hudson-Odoi should start – undoubtedly a weaker set-up than their usual strength in most areas of the pitch. An injury and suspension crisis is not good at the best of times but up against a side as formidable as Bayern Munich and you’re heading for trouble.
Bayern won their 30th Bundesliga title at relative ease after the German league restart, helped enormously by an incredible run of 17 wins in all competitions. Under Niko Kovac, Bayern lost their way and their identity but 29 wins in 32 matches under Hans Dieter Flick with 100 goals scored to boot has banished memories of a relatively poor start to the season.
Die Roten demolished Chelsea in the first leg to hold a commanding 3-0 lead here and will be full of confidence to know that none of the previous 92 sides to hold a three leg lead going into a second leg of a European Cup/Champions League second leg at home have been eliminated.
It could be a slow burner in this contest however given that Bayern haven’t played a competitive game for over a month since the DFB Pokal triumph over Bayer Leverkusen, so I’m looking to Munich to turn on the style in the second half.
Chelsea’s last 5 goals conceded in the Champions League have come in the second 45 minutes and they’ve struggled to keep the ball out of the net in the second half domestically too, conceding 33 goals in the second half of Premier League matches compared to just 21 in the first 45.
Betfair are offering even money on the second half to be the highest scoring on Saturday night and I’m willing to get behind that. All three of Bayern’s goals in the English capital back in February came after the break and with the Blues’ stretched squad tiring as the match progresses, Bayern are likely to find more gaps in their backline during the latter stages as they so often do, passing teams to death. There’s less urgency for the home team to come flying out the traps here so a patient approach and therefore backing second half strikes makes sense.
With Lewandwoski, Muller and Serge Gnabry all having the best seasons of their career, I can’t see how a patched up Chealsea team can handle those three players plus their supporting cast in deeper roles if they are all on form. I would make Bayern, with their elite mentality and tremendous winning experience favourites for the competition given their potency in front of goal as well as Chelsea’s fragile defence, my second selection will be to back Bayern -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at 53/50 with Bet365.
We’ve seen so many times before that this Bayern team are relentless so the 3-0 advantage will likely not deter them from wanting to continue to build their positive momentum into the quarter finals and beyond with those rounds set to come thick and fast. Just ask Arsenal about whether Bayern like to ease off in the second leg and the words ’10-2 on aggregate’ may just come up in conversation.
With a few question marks around team selections, particularly for Chelsea, I would wait for the line-ups before backing anything on the player props with too much confidence. The outrights identified above look a good way in though and they’ll both be one point plays for me.
Chelsea have produced some brilliant displays at times this season but perhaps unsurprisingly given the young average age of their playing staff, they have been inconsistent and it’d take something rather special to make this tie remotely competitive and I’m happy to lay them.