As soon as the paper bearing the letters “FC Bayern Munchen (GER)” was unwrapped, the iconic picture of club legend Didier Drogba with the Champions League trophy back in 2012 enters the mind of every single Chelsea fan. A match that is etched into our minds, not only for the historic first UCL trophy, but for the manner in which it was achieved. From the comeback against Napoli, to *that* game at the Camp Nou, to equalising in the final to beat the German heavyweights in their own backyard. Painting the Allianz Arena blue, from the usual red it dons.
A lot has changed in the 7.5 years since these teams last faced each other in the competition. Escaping from all the nostalgia, however irresistible, must be done in order to snatch a victory against the Bavarian side, who seem to have an appetite for facing teams from London in this competition. After humiliating Arsenal on several occasions, they absolutely ran riot against their North London rivals Spurs in the group stages, with an aggregate score of 10-3 over both games. They also maintained a 100% record in the group, winning all six of their games. West London, however will be no easy task for Bayern. We were drawn against them in the 2004-05 season’s quarterfinals, where we emerged victorious with a 6-5 scoreline.
Chelsea have had their fair share of problems; and the most important of all being inconsistency. Our counterparts, too, have faced this issue in the Bundesliga. They are currently fifth, 6 points off table toppers Leipzig. Having won the league 7 years in a row, this is a real shock for a side with lofty ambitions such as Bayern. Their interim boss Hansi Flick, who was appointed since Nico Kovac was relieved of his duties, maintained a diplomatic tone when asked about the draw and said, “There are no easy teams in the round of 16. Our goal is to reach the quarter finals, and we have to keep our concentration in both legs.”
Frank Lampard also gave his thoughts on the draw, “It is a tough draw, that’s for sure. But we knew that we would get a massive team after qualifying from the group.” On paper, playing Bayern in their current state seems much better than our other options such as Juventus, PSG or Barcelona. Despite this, we should be aware of their threats in the form of Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry who are both having stellar seasons, along with Coutinho who is rediscovering his magic touch in Germany.
Chelsea should also remain optimistic as the possibility of new additions to the squad in January along with the long awaited return of Loftus-Cheek provide a certain degree of hope of advancing to the last eight. The home game is scheduled on 25th February 2020, while the return leg is on the 18th March. A cause of concern is the quality of opposition we face leading up to the home game, as well as after the game at the Allianz Arena. Chelsea face Arsenal, Leicester, Manchester United and Tottenham right before the home leg, and face Manchester City immediately after our return leg. Rotation is a must, and hence depth is key. With a few smart signings in the winter transfer window and avoiding injuries to key players, we can definitely take the game to them and have a real chance of advancing to the next stage after missing out on the competition entirely last season.