The 2021 European champion must lift Dortmund’s 1-0 and the Portuguese team does not want to miss Jan Breydel’s 0-2
MADRID, March 6 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The English Chelsea, European champion in 2021, clings to Stamford Bridge to try to overcome the 1-0 loss against Borussia Dortmund and achieve a pass to the quarterfinals of the Champions League 2022-2023 very on track for the Portuguese Benfica after their 2-0 win against Belgian club Bruges in the first leg.
Chelsea have renewed themselves a lot in the last two transfer windows, but the project has not yet started. Proof of this was the first leg in Germany, where despite their 21 scoring chances, the ‘blues’ were unable to beat an inspired Gregor Kobel, a doubt for the second leg. The 1-0 first leg thanks to a goal from Karim Adeyemi after a great gallop at Signal Iduna Park seems an acceptable disadvantage for the Londoners, who will face the ‘best’ team of 2023.
The Germans have chained 10 consecutive victories in all competitions -the last one over Leipzig (2-1)-, and are co-leaders of the Bundesliga along with Bayern, to reach Stamford Bridge with sky-high morale. The World Cup break, to which they arrived very ‘touched’, suited them very well, in their umpteenth transformation to return to being competitive and dangerous in Europe.
The 1997 European champions have already equaled their best domestic streak -8 consecutive wins, as in 2011-2012- and if they beat Chelsea they would reach their record of 11 wins between July and September 2015. A dynamic that they have built with its most choral version, led by a diamond like Jude Bellingham and already with Sebastien Haller, who suffered from a testicular tumor, in his best version, starting in the first leg and in the last two Bundesliga games.
Chelsea will have to combat and stop this positive inertia of Dortmund with a gear based on world-class ‘cracks’ such as Joao Félix, Enzo Fernández or Mijailo Mudryk. The ‘blues’ were able to end their losing streak of six games without winning, and with only one goal scored, with the last win (1-0) against Leeds. Three points that place them tenth in the Premier League, 11 units behind the Champions League, a priority objective by level and expectation.
However, this round will be a much tougher test for Graham Potter’s men, who in recent weeks have been weak in both areas, with gross mistakes that have hurt them too much. In addition, they will be without the injured Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kanté and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, as well as the suspended Mason Mount.
BENFICA, WITH EVERYTHING IN FAVOR TO BE IN THE QUARTERS
In the other duel on Tuesday, Benfica will have the task, a priori not too complicated, of defending at home the 0-2 first leg against Belgian Bruges. Joao Mario opened the can after the break at the Jan Breydel Stadion and David Neres sealed the game close to the end, to put his team with a foot and a half in the quarterfinals of the highest continental club competition.
This important and hard-earned victory gave even more wings to a Portuguese team that has now won four games -only one defeat in the last 12-, rising to the top of the Portuguese championship with an eight-point advantage over Porto. With patience and solidity, the ‘Águilas’ are close to repeating the high of last year, in their longest winning streak in the Champions League (3) since the 2005-2006 season. With the mattress of two goals, Roger Schmidt’s men will seek to sentence quickly.
For their part, the Belgian team arrives immersed in anxiety and uncertainty, with a dynamic dominated by irregularities and only four wins in their last 18 games. Far from that team that convinced and surprised in the group stage -second behind Porto and ahead of Atlético-, Brujas will have to improve their offensive proposal, with four consecutive duels without scoring in the current edition of the Champions League.
The Spanish Ferran Jutglà aims to repeat his substitution also in the second leg, denied in front of goal with only one goal from the World Cup ‘rest’. If Benfica will receive the Belgians with the absence of Julian Draxler, Mihailo Ristic, Chiquinho and Gonçalo Guedes, Scott Parker’s team will travel to Lisbon with the absence of Jack Hendry and the doubt until the last minute of Skov Olsen.