BERLIN: Bayern Munich are chasing another treble in a repeat of 2013 – but that glorious success came a year after they suffered a devastating penalty shoot-out defeat at home to Chelsea in the Champions League final.
They now host the Londoners again in Saturday’s last 16 second leg with another shock highly unlikely. A 3-0 first leg win at Stamford Bridge means the return tie should be little more than a formality, though coach Hansi Flick is demanding full concentration.
“My team will not underestimate Chelsea,” he told Sport1. “To come into the quarterfinals we need belief in our own strengths.”
Bayern’s strengths are well known after another domestic double built on unbeatable form since the mid-May return from the coronavirus suspension.
Continental competition is now resuming too, also behind closed doors, but with the quarterfinals onward being held as one-off games in Lisbon from Aug 12.
Barcelona or Napoli will be Bayern’s first opponents in Portugal, assuming they progress. But first things first, for Flick.
“We are absolutely focused on Chelsea and in our group no one is talking about Lisbon,” he said. “We all know that we have a very good position from the 3-0 win in the first leg but the second leg has to be played first.
“Chelsea have a rhythm through the last weeks which we’re missing. But that was known to us.”
Frank Lampard captained Chelsea to their Champions League triumph in 2012 and led the team to a top four finish in the Premier League in his first season in charge as manager. But they lost the FA Cup final, from a goal up, to local rivals Arsenal last weekend.
The Chelsea side which stunned Bayern eight years ago has been dismantled and rebuilt more than once. Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller are all who remain with Bayern.
Muller opened the scoring in that final and is now on the verge of his 112th Champions League game, which would draw him level with former captain Philipp Lahm in the club’s record books.
Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas holds the overall record with 177 appearances.
Chelsea’s tough cup final loss included injuries to Christian Pulisic, Cesar Azpilicueta and Pedro while Willian, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour were already absent.
Jorginho and Marcos Alonso are suspended and new signings Timo Werner – from Bayern’s Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig – and Hakim Ziyech are not eligible to play.
Bayern have a largely fit squad, though winger Kingsley Coman is out, but have been out of competitive action since defeating Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup final early last month.
But restarting with a three-goal advantage is a help and a repeat of 2013 could then be just three games away in the modified format.
Flick, who won the World Cup as assistant to Joachim Loew in 2014, is not thinking of another trophy just yet.
“We have the goal to play this power-tournament as successfully as possible if we make it,” he said. “To already have thoughts about how you’d celebrate a possible title is way too early.”
But the coach did admit “that we’re one of the favourites,” a status impossible to deny given English powerhouses Liverpool have already been knocked out.
Real Madrid could pose a threat but enter their last 16 second leg trailing to Manchester City, Barcelona and Juventus have each had relatively weak domestic seasons and Paris Saint-Germain have also played only a couple of competitive game since the coronavirus pandemic.
Flick and Bayern may not get a better chance to repeat the Wembley glory of 2013 in Lisbon. If they can complete the job against Chelsea first, of course. – dpa