Bayern Munich has spent their time off hyping up the match against Chelsea despite their three goal aggregate lead. Are they felling some pressure?
Bayern Munich is one of the best teams in the world, both pre and post the Covid break. They returned and won the Bundesliga in a trot as they normally do and then they shifted all of their focus towards the Champions League.
Chelsea will be travelling away to the site of their most historic victory: the Allianz Arena. But the Blues are behind on aggregate by a whopping three away goals. The German side’s lead is practically insurmountable. And yet, Bayern seems to be worried about it.
Both the players and the manager keep referring to the Blues in comments. They are calling for the club to take nothing for granted, to get past Chelsea, to be focused. Why is Bayern so worried with the lead they have?
Leon Goretza probably got most of it right when he said Chelsea will be able to go straight into the Champions League fixture from the previous season, whereas Bayern has had time off. Match fitness is just as important as physical fitness and Chelsea, thanks to their FA Cup final, will only have one week between the two matches. Bayern, meanwhile, last played on 4 July.
The manager, Hansi Flick, goes into the usual “one game at a time” spiel, but at the same time it all feels a bit awkward. He spoke about how Chelsea has improved since the restart and how Bayern cannot get ahead of themselves. While all of that is true, Bayern is hosting. They have a 3-0 aggregate lead. They are arguably the best side in the world right now. So why the need to worry?
A great deal of it is the history between the two sides. The last time Bayern assumed they would defeat Chelsea at their own stadium, the Blues came in and ruined the party. Didier Drogba kept the Blues in it for extra time that Bayern was mentally unprepared for. Petr Cech showed the then very young Manuel Neuer how to do a penalty shootout. Drogba stepped up and completed a miracle.
Chelsea, and Bayern, both have a few figures in and around the club from that day. For the Chelsea figures, such as manager Frank Lampard, it is a story of triumph against the odds. For Bayern figures, like Thomas Muller and Neuer, it was an embarrassing day where they celebrated far too soon. That is the message both sides will be pushing before the clubs meet again in the Allianz Arena.
But perhaps most importantly of all is that the 3-0 win in February flattered the German side. Chelsea very much held their own through the first half. It was only through severe mistakes in the second that Bayern rocketed ahead. That was when the two sides were on level footing. The same cannot be said about this next match.
The best thing that Lampard can do for his squad is play into Bayern’s fears. Chelsea has a psychological advantage, however slight, and it shows every time someone at Bayern feels the need to bring up the match. It is a nearly insurmountable lead, but Chelsea has done it in that stadium before. The Blues have already started climbing that mountain.