Chelsea v Bayern Munich
Tuesday 25 February, 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Impressive Lampard faces acid test
Frank Lampard knows how demanding and pressured the environment can be at Chelsea, having experienced it as a player for many years, but he is so far dealing with those challenges as a manager with eye-catching authority. It would have been tempting to hide behind the transfer ban, and to bemoan the loss of star player Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, but Lampard has been honest about his team’s failures when they have occurred.
Among those failures have been some big successes, especially when you consider this is only Lamaprd’s second campaign as a manager. He defeated his old mentor Jose Mourinho on Saturday, as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-1 to boost their chances of retaining fourth spot, and the Blues are trading at [1.63] in the Top 4 Finish market. In the Champions League, Chelsea found their way through a tricky group that included Ajax, Valencia and Lille.
The biggest concern for Chelsea is their patchy home form. In the Premier League, they have won just three of their last eight at Stamford Bridge, while in the Champions League they won just one of their three group games in West London. Under Lampard, Chelsea have lost seven times at home in all competitions.
N’Golo Kante is still struggling with a groin injury, while Lampard must decide whether to stick with Olivier Giroud in attack (he scored against Spurs) or restore Tammy Abraham to the starting XI after his ankle injury. Veteran goalkeeper Willy Caballero is expected to keep his place, with Kepa once again on the bench.
Bayern on an upward curve, at least for now
The psychodrama at Bayern Munich seems to have settled into a familiar pattern since Pep Guardiola set the bar high and left for Manchester City in 2016. Both Carlo Ancelotti and Niko Kovac had initial success, winning the Bundesliga title in their maiden seasons, but both were seen off in their second campaign by a set of players that were unconvinced that either man could be a long-term success.
The Italian was criticised for a lack of intensity, while Kovac wasn’t credited with a sufficient level of tactical acumen. Jupp Heynckes steadied the Bayern ship post-Ancelotti, and now Hansi Flick is doing a similar job now that Kovac has been ousted.
A run of eight wins and a draw from the last nine league games has taken the Bavarians back to the top of the Bundesliga, and although Friday’s 3-2 win over rock-bottom Paderborn was far from convincing, Bayern got the job done in the end and were able to give a few fringe players a run-out. Robert Lewandowski’s second-half double proved decisive – the Polish international now has 25 Bundesliga goals in the first 23 games, a feat only matched by the great Gerd Muller. For club and country this term, Lewandowski has found the net 42 times, and in the group stage of the Champions League he recorded the competition’s fastest ever quadruple against a hapless Crvena Zvezda.
It isn’t just Lewandowski who is catching the eye. Canadian teen Alphonso Davies has been converted into an excellent left-back, Thomas Muller has racked up 14 Bundesliga assists this term, and Serge Gnabry is in sparkling form. The Arsenal reject has now reached double figures in terms of goals in four straight Bundesliga seasons for three different clubs, he is a regular starter for Germany, and he put four goals past Spurs in the group stage in a 7-1 win. At the heart of defence, David Alaba has showed maturity in an unfamiliar position.
Apart from long-term absentee Niklas Sule, Bayern aren’t missing any key players. Benjamin Pavard and Jerome Boateng are available after suspension, and Pavard may play at right-back so that Joshua Kimmich can be deployed in midfield.
Bayern worthy favourites, but are they too short?
Chelsea’s fluctuating home form and Bayern’s recent results justify the Germans as favourites, but it’s difficult to get too excited about a price of [1.86] in the Match Odds market.
If you look at Bayern’s games against other teams in the Bundesliga title race, they have drawn twice with Leipzig, lost to Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen, and their only significant win against another heavyweight was a 4-0 home success against Borussia Dortmund.
Goals the way to go
Bayern play a high defensive line, and Chelsea have enough speed in attack to get in behind them and create chances. At the other end, Bayern have racked up 23 goals in seven competitive games in 2020.
I can see this being a lively affair, with goals at both ends. I’ll back an Over 2.5 Goals/Both Teams To Score double at [1.82] on the Sportsbook.
Lewandowski and Gnabry likely to strike
Serge Gnabry has six goals in his last nine appearances, while Robert Lewandowski has netted 15 goals in his last 13 matches. If you use the First To Score For Their Team market on the Sportsbook, you can get odds of 6/4 on Lewandowski and 10/3 on Gnabry.
Alternatively you can just back Gnabry to score at any time at [2.9].