Champions League Round of 16 first leg: Dortmund welcome Chelsea in crunch clash

The first-ever meeting between Borussia Dort­mund and Chelsea takes place at Westfalenstadion tonight, as the two teams lock horns in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

BVB progressed to the knock­out rounds after finishing second in Group G behind Manchester City, while the Blues navigated their way past AC Milan, Red Bull Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb to secure top spot in Group E.

Borussia Dortmund extended their winning run since the World Cup break to six matches across all competitions after securing a 2-0 Bundesliga victory away against Werder Bremen on Saturday.

Despite dominating pro­ceedings, EdinTerzic’s side were struggling to find an opening for over an hour, but it took just 69 seconds for 18-year-old substitute, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, to break the deadlock with a thunderous strike on the 67-minute mark, before Julian Brandt sealed the victory five minutes from time.

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Dortmund currently sit third in the Bundesliga table and remain in a hotly-contested race for the title, with only eight points separating the top six teams with 14 games remaining.

BVB will welcome a return to Westfalenstadion, which has be­come somewhat of a fortress for the German outfit in the Champi­ons League, as they have lost only four of their last 21 home matches in the competition; three of those defeats have been against English oppositions though.

Indeed, Dortmund have strug­gled against English teams over the years, failing to win any of their last 10 games in European competition including eight defeats. Their last victory against an English side dates back to March 2016, when current Chelsea forward Pierre-EmerickAu­bameyang scored a brace in a 2-1 win away at Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League.

Despite winning only two of their six matches in the Champions’ League group stage earlier this sea­son, Dortmund managed to finish above both Sevilla and Copenhagen to advance to the last 16, and they will now endeavour to beat an out-of-sorts Chelsea side over two legs as they bid to reach the quarter-fi­nals for just the third time in the last nine seasons.

Despite winning only three of his last 14 games as Chelsea boss across all competitions, Graham Potter allegedly retains the full support of the club’s hierarchy, seemingly ending speculation that the 47-year-old could soon lose his job.

The Blues have won just one of their eight matches, since the turn of the year and have drawn each of their last three Premier League fixtures, including a 1-1 draw away at West Ham United on Saturday.

Former Chelsea man Emerson Palmieri cancelled out an earlier strike from January loan addition Joao Felix, before the visitors were denied a late penalty when VAR controversially waved away a hand­ball from Tomas Soucek shortly after the Hammers midfielder saw a goal at the other end chalked off by the officials for an offside in the build-up.

Chelsea’s hopes of finishing in the top four continue to fade, as they currently sit ninth in the Premier League table and 10 points behind fourth-placed Newcastle United. The West Londoners may be required to go all the way in the Champions League if they wish to compete in Europe’s elite club competition again next season.

The 2011-12 and 2020-21 champions endured a rocky start to their group-stage campaign earlier this season, with a shock 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb bringing an end to Thomas Tuchel’s reign in charge. However, the Blues bounced back under the tutelage of Potter and won their remaining four games to top Group E ahead of sec­ond-placed AC Milan.

Since a 2-1 away win against Red Bull Salzburg on October 25, Chel­sea have failed to win any of their last nine matches on the road across all competitions, and securing a positive result against Dortmund today could prove challenging as they have won only three of their last 11 away meetings with German opposition. -SportsMole

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