When Niko Kovac took his Bayern Munich facet to former membership Eintracht Frankfurt for a Bundesliga conflict in early November final 12 months, a 1-5 loss for the guests price the Croat supervisor his job.
Bayern hadn’t begun the marketing campaign nicely, successful simply 5 of their first 10 league video games. That they had additionally misplaced to Borussia Dortmund within the season-opening German Tremendous Cup. As an emergency measure, Bayern promoted their assistant coach Hansi Flick to interim supervisor.
Flick, Joachim Loew’s assistant within the German nationwide staff from 2006 to the triumphant World Cup marketing campaign in 2014, effected a outstanding turnaround within the house of a month.
Since December, Bayern have gone on a 26-game unbeaten run, with only one draw—a goalless one in opposition to RB Leipzig in February. In that point, the Bavarian facet has scored 82 targets, at a median of over three per recreation.
Forward of Bayern’s Champions League Spherical of 16 second-leg conflict in opposition to Chelsea, these stats are unlikely to present visiting boss Frank Lampard quite a lot of confidence. The Chelsea supervisor faces the unenviable process of turning round a 0-Three deficit from the primary leg at dwelling in February.
Having clinched each the league and the German Cup within the post-resumption section, Bayern are hoping to emulate Juup Heynckes’ all-conquering treble-winning staff of 2013. They’re additionally well-rested. The German staff final performed on July 4; Chelsea have been in motion final Saturday. However going deeper within the competitors, which may have single-leg ties from the quarter-finals onward, such a niche from aggressive soccer might pose beginning troubles. If Bayern go previous Chelsea, they’ll face Barcelona or Napoli subsequent and both of Actual Madrid, Juventus and Manchester Metropolis within the semi-finals, none of whom have had a break this lengthy.
It helps Bayern’s trigger that these different conventional heavyweights within the competitors should not of their finest mould for the time being. It’s been chaotic for Barcelona since resumption. The Catalans, already out of the Copa del Rey in February, dropped 9 factors of their final 9 video games to see bitter rivals Actual Madrid win the league title.
The Champions League represents Barcelona’s finest hope of a title this season, however successful will probably be a problem. Locked 1-1 with Napoli from their first leg, they’ll hope to trump Gennaro Gattuso’s facet at Camp Nou and guide a quarter-final berth. Napoli received the Coppa Italia beating Juventus and have proven they are often harmful in knockout competitions.
Metropolis go into the house leg with a 2-1 lead in opposition to Actual Madrid. Pep Guardiola’s facet will probably be determined for European success after ending a distant second behind Liverpool within the league and a protracted authorized saga with UEFA.
A susceptible defence and a troublesome draw imply Metropolis should make critical enhancements from their home kind to go the space in Europe. Given the firepower they possess in assault, Metropolis, nevertheless, stay among the many frontrunners for the title. A possible maiden European triumph will want Metropolis to first get the job performed at dwelling in opposition to Zinedine Zidane’s Actual Madrid, who have been spectacular in digging out wins within the league. Madrid, 13-time champions, have at all times been a distinct beast on this competitors. Whereas overturning the 2-1 deficit in Manchester will probably be troublesome, doing so just isn’t past them.
The winners of this tie is also up in opposition to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus within the quarters, if they’ll go previous a difficult Lyon facet, who’ve a 1-Zero lead from their first leg in France.
Juventus received their ninth straight league title final month, however that has extra to do with their rivals slipping up than their very own kind. The Bianconeri picked up simply two wins from their final eight video games and have been in a defensive hell—no champions of Italy have shipped 43 targets since 1962.
THE DARK HORSES
The quarter-final match-ups for the opposite half of the draw is already recognized—certainly one of Atalanta, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Atletico Madrid and Leipzig will play the ultimate in Lisbon on August 23. None of them are outright favourites, however neither are they simply dismissed.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta, specifically, may very well be the shock package deal this season. Set to play in opposition to PSG within the final eight, Atalanta have been spectacular within the Serie A the place they completed third, scoring a league-high 98 targets. With PSG having not performed for 4 months earlier than they simply about received the French Cup and French League Cup finals late final month, match health may very well be a problem for Thomas Tuchel’s facet.
Kylian Mbappe’s probably absence resulting from damage may also work to Atalanta’s benefit, though the Bergamo-based membership itself might miss the providers of key ahead Josip Ilicic resulting from a private matter. Atletico will begin favourites within the different quarter-final in opposition to Leipzig, who’re with out Timo Werner after the striker transferred to Chelsea. Atletico ended the season nicely, not dropping for the reason that restart and are at all times a troublesome staff to beat. Having earlier reached the ultimate twice underneath Diego Simeone, they’ve the expertise of going far within the competitors. With a comparatively beneficial draw, they’ll goal to go a step additional and win the title this time.