Champions League: 5 lessons from Chelsea and Bayern games
1) Jose Mourinho thrives in these cat-and-mouse two-legged ties
When Chelsea took the lead at Parc des Princes through a 36th-minute Branislav Ivanovic header there was a sense that this was game over for Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League bid, such is the Portuguese’s ruthlessness in these ties.
That Chelsea gave up a goal in the encounter will have irked the two-time competition winner, but ultimately his side have handed him the perfect recipe with which to bake a quarter-final pie.
Expect a host of defensively-minded players to feature at Stamford Bridge as the Blues look to soak up PSG’s necessary advances before killing the tie on the counter attack.
2) Thibaut Courtois makes strong case as world’s best
In the various guises of the world’s best player award there has only been three goalkeepers ever make the top three in this millennia.
Manuel Neuer was the latest of that trio when finishing third in last year’s FIFA Ballon d’Or voting, but it’s conceivable that the Bayern Munich stopper will find Chelsea’s Belgian a stubborn opponent for such accolades in future. Like a Messi v Ronaldo rivalry with oversized gloves.
Courtois was at the peak of his powers in Paris, making a number of crucial saves to keep the hosts at bay. His form will be crucial to Chelsea’s 6/1-rated Champions League assault.
3) The curious tale of the star-studded strikers
Diego Costa was bought by Chelsea in part to divert the source of Mourinho’s moaning, but mainly to provide the west Londoners with a more proven frontman with which to tackle these big European opponents.
That he has now failed to score in nine cup appearances somewhat detracts from his Premier League impact. There is still time for him to come good, especially as he gains greater fitness after his three-match ban.
Opposing him is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who so often provides the magic for PSG. He has not scored in seven outings against a Mourinho-managed side and should he fail again at Stamford Bridge that majesty will likely be confined to Ligue 1.
4) Provocation the key to stifling Bayern Munich
There are easier ways of resuming your season after a two-month break than facing the German powerhouses, but Shakhtar Donetsk proved themselves anything but ring rusty in holding Pep Guardiola’s side to a goalless draw.
Key to their success was breaking up play through fouls, which antagonised their opponents and surprisingly lured them away from their game plan into a niggly tit-for-tat affair. A repeat of that tactic at the Allianz Arena could see an upset.
5) Robert Lewandowski could be on the way out
In surmising the action in the Sky Sports studio, Bayern alumni Didi Hamann pondered whether the Polish striker could make a swift departure from Bavaria after just one season.
As the game petered out into a stalemate the former Borussia Dortmund striker was handed just 15 minutes to nab a goal, that’s after playing all of the recent 8-0 win over Hamburg on the wing.
The former Liverpool midfielder thinks Lewandowski is being mistreated and would be perfect for Arsenal or Man Utd, but do they agree?
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