The first legs continue in the Champions League this week as two more enticing ties take centre stage. Chelsea will be hoping to defy the odds as they meet Bayern Munich in a repeat of the 2012 Champions League final, while Barcelona will be looking to get a lead to take back to Spain against Napoli.
Chelsea vs Bayern Munich
This tie is a repeat of the 2012 Champions League, which was the only success in this competition for Chelsea. The victory in Munich was the finest moment of Frank Lampard’s career, but if he is able to guide this Chelsea side to the Champions League prize, then it may exceed that honour.
The Blues have struggled defensively throughout the season, and that has been evident throughout their European campaign to date. They conceded nine goals in the group phrases but were able to squeak through following three wins in the competition. They remained unbeaten in the group stages after their opening day defeat against Valencia, but this will be a much bigger test than they have faced previously.
Bayern Munich were the only team to boast a 100% record through the group stages. They also only conceded five goals and scored a competition-high of 24 goals. The standout win from their group stages was that 7-2 success against Tottenham Hotspur. Serge Gnabry scored a hat-trick on that evening, and the winger could be an important player once again for the Bavarians.
Chelsea’s defensive issues means that there could be more Champions League disappointment for an English side. Bayern should get the vital away win in this tie.
Napoli vs Barcelona
Barcelona have endured a turbulent season to this point, but Lionel Messi and co will know that their campaign will be judged on how they perform in Europe. Barcelona are still reeling from their semi-final capitulation last season at the hands of Liverpool. Despite the wealth of riches that Barcelona have, they are struggling for fit strikers at present. They have lost Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele through injury, which has led them to sign Martin Braithwaite on loan.
The Catalonian club managed to get through to this stage of the competition without losing a game. They also have the joint-best defensive record in the tournament at present. Messi will once again be their most important player as the creating and goalscoring responsibilities will be on his shoulders.
Napoli could present a stern test for Barcelona after being one of only three teams to beat Liverpool in all competitions this season. Napoli beat Liverpool on the opening matchday in the competition, but they have suffered two defeats since then. They have the same defensive record as Barcelona, but that will be truly tested this coming week.
Barcelona should be far too strong for Napoli in this tie. They will get a narrow win from this game in Italy, before completing the job when the fixture returns to Spain in a few weeks time.