Barcelona fought back to grab a 1-1 draw with Napoli while Chelsea got thrashed 3-0 by Bayern Munich on their own turf last night.
Napoli 1-1 Barcelona
Barcelona will not compromise
In Quique Setien’s first-ever game in the Champions League, Barcelona did not compromise on their way of playing. They made 455 passes to the home side’s 195 in the first half, but only had 2 shots and 0 on target.
One would have expected them to change at half-time, but they did not.
Instead of reaching for a dopey Plan B, they simply executed plan A with more authority. They pressed better, they passed faster, and the game flowed much quicker as a result.
They completed fewer passes (342 to Napoli’s 197) but had 6 shots, 2 on target, one of which hit the back of the net as they carved the hosts open with surgical precision.
Ter Stegen stands tall
In Naples, Ter Stegen pulled out the kind of big, gutsy stops that marked him out amongst the world’s best goalkeepers.
He made 3 saves in total, all impressive but none more so than when he raced off his line to block Jose Callejon from making it 2-1 to Napoli.
The chance came soon after Barcelona had equalised and would have squashed their burgeoning momentum but their German goalkeeper bailed him out and allowed Barcelona to head home with the away goal edge.
A thin squad gets thinner
Barcelona hold a slim advantage ahead of the second leg but there were also negatives.
First there was Sergio Busquets’ yellow card for his challenge with Dries Mertens, leaving him out of the second leg through suspension.
Then there was Arturo Vidal’s idiotic red card for thrusting his head at Mario Rui and shouting at referees.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Gerard Pique limped off late on after an awkward fall saw him roll over on his ankle.
So yes, Barcelona hold the advantage in theory, but with their squad problems there is still a great chance for Napoli to spring an upset.
Chelsea 0-3 Bayern Munich
Chelsea has a mountain to climb
To make matters worse, Marcos Alonso and Jorginho will both miss the second leg through suspension. Alonso was sent off for foolishly putting his hand in Robert Lewandowski’s face and Jorginho’s yellow card was for dissent.
In the Allianz Arena, the Blues need to score three times – and not concede – just to force extra time. Stranger things have happened in football, but you wouldn’t bet on it.
Bayern loves playing in London
In their last seven away matches against English teams, Bayern has won three times, all in London.
In those three matches, the Bavarians have scored a barely-believable 15 times.
At this stage of the 2016/17 UCL Bayern thrashed Arsenal 5-1 on their own turf and in the group stages of this season they smashed seven past Tottenham in a 7-2 victory.
One player who apparently enjoys playing in the UK capital more than most, is Bayern winger Serge Gnabry. The former Arsenal player has scored six Champions League goals this season – four at Spurs in October and two today at Stamford Bridge.
N’Golo Kante is a crucial cog in Chelsea’s midfield
Kante has not had much luck with injuries this season and, when he doesn’t play, you realize how much Chelsea miss him.
Lampard picked the same team that beat Spurs at the weekend, but today the midfield two of Jorginho and Kovacic were no match for Thiago Alcantara and Kimmich.
Bayern found plenty of space in midfield and, with quick wingers and one of the best strikers in the world, the German champions will punish you. Kante, of course, is not easy to replace but with the benefit of hindsight, Lampard will wonder if a more conservative formation would have produced a different result.
Alphonso Davies has a big future
That third goal was made by Bayern left-back Alphonso Davies, who again showed why he is such a special talent.
The 19-year-old Canadian international demonstrated his explosive pace to race down the left side and square the ball for Lewandowski to tap in. It was the goal that probably puts the nail in Chelsea’s coffin.
Davies was up and down the left all evening, terrifying Chelsea’s defence with his pace. He is still young and does not always make the right decision, but he also showed glimpses of the maturing defensive side of his game.
In the first half, when it looked like Mason Mount might get away from him, Davies sprinted back and muscled Mount off the ball. If he keeps playing like this, Davies is on the way to becoming one of the world’s best left-backs.