Football

Bayern Munich well ahead of Chelsea: Lothar Matthaeus

Clubs meet in repeat of 2012 Champions League final

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ROUND OF 16, 1ST LEG
CHELSEA BAYERN MUNICH

German football legend Lothar Matthaeus believes his former team Bayern Munich are "clear favourites" against Chelsea.

The clubs meet for a Champions League last-16, first-leg clash at Stamford Bridge tomorrow morning (Singapore time) in a repeat of the 2012 final, which the Blues won.

Matthaeus, who won the World Cup and European Championship with Germany, told publication Abendzeitung: "Bayern are the clear favourites. This is no longer the big Chelsea from the past with players like Michael Ballack, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

"(They) are a very young team that have undergone a change. Therefore, I assume that Bayern will reach the next round.

"In terms of quality, Bayern are well ahead of Chelsea... Overall, the team no longer have the shine of earlier days."

Bayern had the best record of the group stage with a perfect six wins out of six, scoring 24 goals along the way - including 10 against last season's finalists Tottenham Hotspur.

After a patchy start in the Bundesliga, Bayern have returned to their familiar position at the top of the pile.

Matthaeus credited interim coach Hansi Flick, who replaced Niko Kovac last November.

Said Matthaeus: "Since Flick has been coach, Bayern have been quiet.

"This is comparable to the (Jupp) Heynckes period. The club and the entire environment have moved closer together.

"Hansi has a good feel for a team, he is great in human and communicative terms. I think the Treble is possible, but everything has to fit...

OPTIONS

"There are now options in the squad again, strong players can also come from the squad. Bayern's 2013 Treble-winning side also recognised this."

Thomas Mueller was the top scorer in that 2013 side and has enjoyed a resurgence under Flick, with nine goals and 15 assists.

He told The Athletic: "Chelsea have young, talented players and a quality team that can really hurt you... But they're not the best team in Europe right now and we don't need to be afraid. I'm confident."

Champions League joint-top scorer Robert Lewandowski, meanwhile, told The Guardian: "The players feel more confident because they know what the trainer wants from them. The communication is much better.

" I still believe that one day we will play in the Champions League final and we will win it."

For that to happen, Bayern need to score in London, said chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

The two-time European Cup winner told Bayern's website: "A good result would be that we score. That was a bit of a problem last year against Liverpool."

Last season, European champions Liverpool and Bayern played out a goalless draw at Anfield, before the Reds beat Bayern 3-1 in the second leg in Bavaria.

Football