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Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich, Champions League: Team news, preview, how to watch

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Round of 16, first leg

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Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mu Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/GettyImages

It may have been eight years ago, but it might as well have been yesterday.

Of course, we all have to move on at some point.

Thomas Müller, Jérôme Boateng, and Manuel Neuer remain from 2012. For Chelsea, everyone has moved on already — though some not very far, with Frank Lampard, Petr Čech, and Ashley Cole (and Paulo Ferreira, who was an unused sub) all employed by the club today in various functions.

Chelsea and Bayern have actually played twice since May 19, 2012, once in the UEFA Super Cup the following year — Chelsea, as Europa League champions and freshly re-Mourinho’d, lost in a penalty kick shootout — and once in a preseason friendly, with Bayern winning 3-2 at the start of Conte’s second season in 2017.

Despite that shared history, this will be only the second game at the Bridge between these two sides, following the first leg of the 2004-05 quarterfinals, when Chelsea won 4-2 thanks to a Lampard brace, and would go on to win the tie 6-5 on aggregate.

Now is the chance to make history, which is our favorite kind of history.

Date / Time: Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 20.00 GMT; 3pm EST; 1:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Clément Turpin (France) — first ever Chelsea match for the 37-year-old Ligue 1 referee, who ominously enough, was the referee for Bayern’s 7-2 away win (not a typo) at Spurs during the group stages.
Forecast: Cold rain, possibly hail, with a bit of wind, too — weather, the great eqaulizer!

On TV: BT Sport 2 (UK); TNT, Galavision (USA); Sony TEN 1 (India); Canal+ Sport 2, SuperSport 5 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); B/R Live, Watch TNT, Univision NOW (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA)

Chelsea team news: N’Golo Kanté, Christian Pulisic, and Callum Hudson-Odoi have been ruled out. We had been hopeful that CHO would be fit, but it appears he will not be (might be for the weekend). The other two are still facing weeks out.

In better news, Ruben Loftus-Cheek continues gaining fitness and could be ready for substitute duty, while Tammy Abraham was able to play a few minutes against Spurs, even if he was just 70 per cent fit — though some reports are suggesting Olivier Giroud will get the start again today anyway. Andreas Christensen wore a mask on Saturday for his broken nose, and was excellent.

In a way, this is a bonus match for us, with the emphasis firmly on more realistic targets like a top-four finish and a deep FA Cup run — even if Lampard will never admit to that in public. Chelsea are definite underdogs — again, even if Lampard will not admit to that in public — but as three-time Champions League-winner Mateo Kovačić put it, this is a chance to relax, have fun, and show the world what we are capable of (or not capable of).

Big players live for big moments, so we just might find out if we’ve got any like that.

Bayern Munich team news: After a few early season stumbles, including a coaching change, Bayern are back on top of the Bundesliga these days, maintaining a one-point lead over RB Leipzig and a four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern have not lost a game in any competition since mid-December (11 games) and have been held to a draw just once in that time, earlier this month by the aforementioned RB Leipzig (who walked all over Spurs in North London last week in their Round of 16 first leg). Normal service has long been resumed in Bavaria.

That said, this is a big game for Bayern as well — beyond any notions of revenge for 2012, empty as such things tend to be — with interim head coach Hansi Flick angling for a permanent appointment, which certainly wouldn’t be helped by such an early exit from Europe. He will be able to call on a nearly fully fit squad, with only center back Niklas Süle and veteran winger Ivan Perišić (on loan from Inter) set to miss out.

Bayern should need no introduction, though they are a somewhat changed side from those familiar teams of recent years. Both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry have gone, and replaced by the next generation of Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman, Alphonso Davies, and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Of course, when you have Robert Lewandowski still pouring in the goals (just the 38 in 32 games in all competitions) and Thomas Müller continuing to defy logic with his gangly legs taking up unorthodox positions, it’s really not so hard to look good and dangerous. Even Philippe Coutinho has managed to do so.

View from the enemy: Bavarian Football Works

Previously: Chelsea posted highlights of the 4-2 on, and this is not a drill, YouTube (NO WAY), which is great. But as much as we should move on ... not today. Here’s still my absolute all-time favorite video about May 19, by two dudes whom I never met and don’t even know, and yet share the deep bond of that most perfect night.