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Champions League Preview: Bayern Set To Inflict More Misery On Injury-Ravaged Chelsea As Napoli Eye Barcelona Upset

Champions League Preview: Bayern Set To Inflict More Misery On Injury-Ravaged Chelsea As Napoli Eye Barcelona Upset

Chelsea will be guests to Bayern Munich for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Saturday evening, trailing 3-0 from February’s reverse fixture.

A lot has happened in the six months since the sides last met, but Bayern remain the overwhelming favourites to advance to the quarter-finals, where they could face Napoli or Barcelona.

Bayern produced a hugely impressive display at Stamford Bridge and all but got the job done inside 90 minutes thanks to Serge Gnabry’s brace and one from Robert Lewandowski.

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In the entire history of the European Cup and Champions League, no team has ever won by three or more goals in the first leg of a knockout match away from home and failed to progress, going through on all 92 previous occasions.

Being paired with Bayern in the first knockout round brought back good memories for Chelsea fans when the draw was made way back in December, with this a repeat of the 2012 final which they won.

In the first competitive meeting between the sides since the 2012 final, however, it proved to be a nightmare for Lampard as Bayern produced a classy display to run away with the first leg.

Bayern’s most recent game was the DFB-Pokal final against Bayer Leverkusen on July 4 – Lewandowski taking his season’s tally to 52 goals with another brace in Berlin as Bayern ran out 4-2 winners.

Despite going into the return leg as favourite, Bayern will be without Kingsley Coman who is carrying a muscular problem.

Also, Benjamin Pavard has been ruled out so Joshua Kimmich – now more familiar playing in holding midfield – will likely shift to right-back.

As for Chelsea, Lampard’s FA Cup final misery was compounded by the loss of three players – Christian Pulisic, Cesar Azpilicueta and Pedro – to injuries that will rule each of them out of this game.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour are also ruled out, while Marcos Alonso and Jorginho are suspended while Willian and N’Golo Kante are fitness doubts.

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And at the Nou Camp, Barcelona will welcome Napoli to Camp Nou also on Saturday night for the second leg of their last-16 clash in the Champions League.

The tie is delicately poised following a 1-1 draw in the first leg back in February, and the winner will advance to Lisbon for a knockout tournament.

Barca should be fired-up for Saturday’s contest as they look to move on from the disappointment of the 2019-20 La Liga campaign, where they relinquished control of the La Liga title to bitter rivals Real Madrid.

The Catalan giants have had their problems this season but must still be taken extremely seriously in this competition.

Barca are actually unbeaten in their last 35 Champions League matches on home soil, while they have not lost in any of their last 15 home fixtures against Italian opposition, picking up 12 victories in the process.

Napoli also disappointed in their domestic league during the 2019-20 campaign, only finishing seventh in Serie A, some 16 points behind fourth-placed Lazio.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side did beat Lazio 3-1 in their last league game of the season on August 1, though, and they could be sharper than Barca for this match, having only just finished their domestic campaign.

Napoli have actually never been past this stage of the Champions League, losing to Chelsea and Real Madrid in their last two last-16 ties.

The Italian side have only won seven of their last 21 matches in this competition and have lost their last four two-legged ties against Spanish opposition.

Defeats on their last three visits to Spain, coupled with an overall away record of two wins and five defeats to La Liga opposition, means that the Italian outfit are the underdogs heading into Saturday’s contest.

They are yet to lose in this season’s Champions League, though, and impressively overcame the reigning champions Liverpool at home in the group stages of the competition before claiming a point at Anfield.

Barca will be without the services of central defender Samuel Umtiti due to a knee injury, while midfielders Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal are both suspended for the home side.

Ousmane Dembele trained with the first team on Wednesday as he continues his recovery from a long-term hamstring problem, although it seems unlikely that the Frenchman will be involved against Napoli.

Griezmann, Clement Lenglet and Frenkie de Jong have all recovered from their recent injuries and should make the starting side, while Ivan Rakitic could get the nod in the middle of the park.

Luis Suarez missed the first leg in Naples through injury, but the Uruguay international is available for the return fixture and should join Griezmann and Lionel Messi in attack.

As for Napoli, Kostas Manolas is definitely absent due to a rib injury, but the Italians are hopeful that Lorenzo Insigne will be able to shake off a thigh problem in time for the contest.

Insigne picked up the issue against Lazio last weekend, and he trained individually on Wednesday as he fights to prove his fitness for the clash at Camp Nou.

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