Champions League last-16 first leg tie: Bayern storm Stamford Bridge

Chelsea head into the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich on the back of a morale-boosting win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Meanwhile, the German outfit make the trip to Stamford Bridge having maintained top spot in the Bundesliga with a hard-fought triumph against Pederborn.

Ahead of Saturday’s game with Spurs, Frank Lampard was aware that he was beginning to come under some pressure from the club’s supporters after four matches without success in the Premier League.

With Bayern, Liverpool and Everton also on the horizon in various competitions, there would have been an acknowledgement that the Blues needed to get back on track as soon as possible.

However, just like they did in the reverse fixture in December, Chelsea outfought and outclassed their London rivals, ultimately prevailing by well-taken goals from Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso.

The West Londoners also had to cope with the feeling of injustice after Giovani Lo Celso remarkably survived a call for a red card, but Lampard watched his players come through another test of character at a time when they should have had a comfortable last half-hour.

Perhaps the most significant part of the weekend’s derby was the performance of Giroud, who added a different dimension to Chelsea’s play after being omitted from the team for much of the campaign.

Although Lampard will insist that Tammy Abraham has earned a regular spot on merit, there have been increasing calls for Giroud to become more involved, especially after the World Cup winner missed out on a January exit.

For now at least, Chelsea will be grateful that the Frenchman remains part of their squad, with the target man also able to offer the team more height when it comes to defending set-piece situations.

Despite that not being required too much against Spurs, it is something which can only benefit Lampard’s side in the coming months, with teams only growing in belief when it comes to getting the better of an inconsistent, and sometimes indecisive, backline.

Bayern have also shown their frailties in defence over recent weeks, conceding seven goals from their last five outings in all competitions.

That said, there are fewer concerns going forward with seven goals being scored during meetings with FC Koln and Pederborn respectively.

The back-to-back triumphs, which have seen Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski contribute five strikes between them, has ensured that Bayern remain at the top of the domestic standings at a time when their rivals struggle for consistency.

However, Hans Flick is aware that there is a demand for further progress in the Champions League after last season’s last-16 exit, which made it six campaigns in a row in which Bayern had failed to reach the final.

With this year’s competition as wide open as it has been for some time, Flick and his players know that there is a window of opportunity, especially against opponents who have found it difficult on their home patch.

Tuesday’s contest will mark the second time that Bayern have made the trip to London in under six months after thrashing Spurs by a 7-2 scoreline during the group stages.

While the English club were perhaps unfortunate to lose by such a wide margin, Bayern displayed the kind of ruthlessness which could carry them to their sixth success in European football’s premier competition.

Chelsea will be inclined to keep things as tight as possible during the first leg but if their previous form is anything to go by, inviting pressure onto themselves may only play into Bayern’s favour. Having successfully come through 20 minutes against Spurs at the weekend, Abraham could return to the starting lineup in place of Giroud. – SportsMole

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