Remember the last time Chelsea faced Bayern in the Champions League?
It was eight years ago and a lot has happened since then, so perhaps you have forgotten. Little old tie at some Bavarian ground, 1-1 draw in the end, can’t recall if anything special happened.
You might think that defeat on their home patch in the 2012 Champions League final to Chelsea might haunt Bayern relentlessly, a fog that will hang over them for all time. So does that loss hang heavily over them, ahead of their meeting at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday?
“Not really,” said Rafa Honigstein on this week’s European edition of the Totally Football Show. “There are some survivors from that team – Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller – but really it bears very little relevance to what’s happening.
“The fact that Bayern won in 2013 – and this is now part of the mythology of the club – and told themselves 2012 spurred them on and made them stronger and made them go all the way, has put a very different slant on things. It’s not nearly as traumatic and as big a deal now.
“The players, when they were asked repeatedly on Friday night, got a little bit annoyed, thinking “oh, do we really have to talk about 2012 again”, but deep down I don;’t think there’s any great sense of “this is revenge” or overcome the trauma. It’s too far away, and it’s been tempered by what happened in 2013.”
Bayern have been a little under the radar in terms of talk about a potential Champions League win, despite a record performance in the group stage in which they won all six games with a +19 goal difference, helped along of course by that spanking of Tottenham.
But ask most people who they think might win the whole thing this season, and they will probably say Liverpool, Manchester City, Juventus, maybe Barcelona or even Real Madrid. So why aren’t Bayern talked about in those terms?
“I guess it’s because they haven’t made a final [since 2013]. They came close in 2018 [getting to the semi-final], but ultimately we haven’t seen them in a final for a long time and they’re seen as being a bit off the radar. They’re not seen as stable enough, or consistent enough, since Guardiola was there. I talked to Muller for an interview in the Athletic and he said since Pep left, it’s been a little bit “wild west” at Bayern – you never know what you’re going to get.
“Hansi Flick has done well to at least suggest he can take them back to having that sort of control, towards that very clearly defined identity that put them at the top of European football, albeit very briefly.
“Karl-Heinz Ruminigge said recently that the club owed a debt in modern times to Van Gaal, Hitzfeld, Pep and Heynckes, and then said almost immediately that he sees Flick as perhaps in a position to bring back that style and identity (because they didn’t under Kovac).
“They’re doing their best to back him, and to put him in a position where he can really claim this job now, but to do that he needs to be very convincing, not just against Chelsea but against possible opposition in the quarter-finals.”
So are they worried about Chelsea?
“Bayern love travelling to London, lots of big wins for them there, but not against Chelsea: the last time they were here 15 years ago they were knocked out in the quarter-finals, by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea [in the ‘laundry basket’ tie].
“It should be interesting. Chelsea have all the characteristics that could make it difficult for Bayern, because they have lots of pacy, energetic and sort of…annoying forwards who could put pressure on Bayern’s backline and disrupt their game.
“At the same time we have seen Chelsea being vulnerable, giving away chances and not looking 100% like the finished product.
“Bayern will feel that, while Chelsea are not to be underestimated, they have a decent chance of going through and should probably over the course of the 180 minutes, have just a little bit too much, in terms of depth, experience and quality. They’re quietly confident in Munich.”
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